published Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Chattanooga Mocs band hits the Big Apple

The audience wore Mocs Gold Rush shirts. Scrappy, the mockingbird mascot, burst through a huge, gold paper C to lead the pep band onstage as it played the school fight song.

  • photo
    LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 13 -- Pictured: -- NBC Photo: Dana Edelson Members of the Univeristy of Tennessee at Chattanooga marching band, along with Chattanoog native and "Saved by the Bell" star Dennis Haskins, appear with Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" show during a Wednesday taping. Credit: NBC Universal

And UTC alumnus Dennis Haskins — better known as principal Belding from “Saved by the Bell” — made a surprise appearance to thank host Jimmy Fallon for his great show of school spirit.

That was the scene when the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s pep band appeared on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” which aired at 12:30 a.m. today.

“It went through the roof! It could not have gone better,” said Mr. Haskins in a phone interview after the taping last night. “The Mocs were the stars of the day.”

The pep band received its invitation after Mr. Fallon threw his weight behind the Mocs as his favored underdog team in this week’s NCAA basketball tournament. He has given UTC a generous amount of national airtime each night this week.

Slideshow: Dance practice


The “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” show’s reasons “Why We’re Rooting for the UTC Mocs in the NCAA Tourney” include:

* Dennis Haskins, aka MR. BELDING from ‘Saved by the Bell,’ went to school there. Heeeellooo!

* In their list of buildings, they once had the ‘Old Math Building.’ Keepin’ it simple. I like that. (via Wikipedia)

* Aaaand, we love a Cinderella.



* Coach John Shulman, via remote broadcast

* Dennis Haskins, UTC alumnus

* Dr. Erika Schafer, UTC assistant band director

* Ashli Skiles, UTC cheerleading coach

* Josh Smith and Josh Boiles, trumpets

* Jarred Klein and Reed Bobo, tubas

* Marcus Harris, baritone

* John Rose, trombone

* Kelly Knapp, piccolo

* Nikki McClung, alto sax

* Brittany Meyers, tenor sax

* Matt Broom, drums.

* Sarah Eck, cheerleader

* Emily Ryans, Sugar Moc

* Amy Rutherford as Scrappy

On Tuesday night, his audience waved blue and gold shakers after Mr. Fallon introduced an original song by The Roots about UTC’s coach, John Shulman.

A highlight of the lyrics: “Shulman — the Don Juan of the SoCon.”

“The John Shulman song was hilarious,” said the UTC junior and band member Marcus Harris.

Mr. Fallon interviewed Mr. Shulman via a remote broadcast.

“This has become a cult thing. It’s gone crazy,” Mr. Shulman told the Times Free Press. “I don’t know whether I would have done this, but it’s meant a lot of exposure to ... our whole school.”

Mr. Shulman said he was happy for the band members who appeared on the show.

“We’re in front of the camera a lot and they’re not,” he said.

During the show, Mr. Fallon educated his audience on famous alumni of the university, such as retired U.S. Army Gen. Burwell B. Bell III and Mr. Haskins, who then surprised the audience.

“I came up through a trap door and the place went bananas,” Mr. Haskins said.

Mr. Haskins repeated principal Belding’s signature line “Hey, hey, hey, what’s going on here?” and cued the band’s parade into the studio. The actor also presented Mr. Fallon with a Mocs cap, which the talk-show host immediately wore.

Mr. Harris said the band members were nervous about the taping but excited about the national attention their university is receiving.

“All my family and all my Facebook friends were talking about it and watching,” he said. “I was just proud to be part of it.”

He added, “Not everybody can be No. 1, but it’s terrific to be in it (the tournament). This was about celebrating, being involved.”

Staff Writer Mark Wiedmer contributed to this story.

  • Video: Official underdogs?
    UTC students react to late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon's skit on the 16th-seeded Mocs' challenging opening-round NCAA tournament game Thursday against top-seeded UConn.
about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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