The University of Florida’s tribute to Tom Petty on Saturday did not go exactly as planned.
The school announced it would honor the late rock icon, a Gainesville native, with a rendition of his classic 1989 hit “I Won’t Back Down” after the third quarter of the Homecoming game vs. Louisiana State University (UF lost by one point).
That’s what happened. Kind of.
As the song began to play over the loudspeakers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, it was interrupted by LSU’s marching band.
Some fans expressed their, um, displeasure from the stands.
On its Facebook page, the band, The Golden Band from Tiger Land released a statement saying the snafu had nothing to do with how they feel about Petty’s music or legacy.
“Clarification on the 3-4th quarter situation last night. As is customary and tradition for LSU for every game over several decades, at the end of the 3rd quarter Tiger Band always plays Pregame/Touchdown for LSU. The plan was for LSU to honor their decades-old tradition while Florida honored their singing tradition simultaneously. Then right after LSU finished their Pregame, a tribute was to ensue. To help facilitate this, the LSU band started their Pregame tradition early with :10 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter. At no time was it the intentions of Tiger Band to disrespect or interrupt a tribute of someone we consider a musical icon and apologize to anyone thinking this was the case.”
Not everyone was buying the excuse:
“LSU showed itself to be quite classless about the moved game last year, so I guess they’re just continuing what has become an annual tradition.”
Another commenter wrote: “In 40 years of going to Florida Field, the opposing bands always waited until after We Are The Boys to play their song, including FSU and Tenn,. And even GA in Jacksonville. If you knew the Tom Petty salute was to start right after We Are The Boys, taking away your time to play the LSU song, then LSU should have taken a pass. How many commercial breaks in the 2nd half could they have played their song.. If FL is ever at LSU after one of Nawlins greats has passed and they do the same thing between the 3rd and 4th qtr, I hope the FL band would stay silent during this time.. God Bless Tom Petty.”
And yet another critic: “Why are you making excuses? Every single piece of video evidence, let’s remove the rivalry bias, proves the utter disrespect by your band. The irony is that it wasn’t for a former player or even a UF graduate. It was for a musical icon that was a former UF grounds keeper that found success and fortune in the music industry. The lack of class from students and staff at LSU is disgusting.”
This post kind of sums up the widespread anger: “Sometimes people make misguided choices, like being completely disrespectful to a recently decreased, community icon as well as the school hosting them. It’s the ones who own up to their mistake that are the true class acts. LSU is not one of those types. Don’t try to explain away your behavior, particularly since it is on video all over the internet. Own your rudeness, apologize and don’t do it again.”