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One Saturday in Ames

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Why getting up at 4:15am and staying up til 2am reveals more about the CyHawk Rivalry and what it means to be a fan.

Iowa v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Last week a few of my buddies and I were discussing what our plans were for the Game. The 11-o-clock kickoff was a curious kick time for what was sure to be a great day. Ideas such as staying up all Friday night and tailgating were thrown around, but ultimately one idea proved better than the rest: Waking up at 4 A.M. and staying up until 2 A.M. Sunday morning. Ahead of time, I decided to take notes throughout the day to share with the readers of WRNL.

This is the story of my day.

4:15am: My alarm goes off. 2 minutes later I receive a text from my buddy, who had been up a tad later than I had the night before: “Holy F*ck I’m still drunk.” It’s going be a long day.

5:23am: The walk from Hyland to the tailgate lots is a quiet, sobering experience. It’s dark and cold, almost too quiet. Tents are up outside the student section gates, and I wonder how it’s possible that these kids who stayed in a tent all night are going to be more rested than I am.

5:44am: Beer number 1. Buschhhhhhhhhhhh

6:45am: The tailgate crew arrives and we begin to set up. 3 tents, bungie corded together, mark our spot. Breakfast is sausage and egg sliders and some cinnamon bread.

7:15am: My note here just says “Coffee and Bailey’s. Necessary.”

8:32am: Time for a change of scenery. As we make our way to the grass lots, we pass 5 kids sitting in a circle getting written up for MIP’s. Poor souls. The grass lots are insanely packed. Shoulder to shoulder, people are excited. The lack of port-a-potties is astounding; good thing I don’t have to go.

8:34am: I have to go.

9:00am: Headed back to the original tailgate for the final push before stadium entry. I watch as the students all rush in. Thank goodness I have someone that saves me a seat! Here’s what gets me about student seating: (which I could write a whole other piece about) Somehow, I believe that there is a better way to determine how people get seats without sacrificing tailgate spots or time spent in line. Understandably so, getting students off the tailgate lots and into the game is a great way to minimize risk, but as an of-age senior, it sucks.

9:42am: Finally in the game. First F*ck the Hawks chant echoes around the student section. My over/under prediction is 4.5

10:39: F*ck the Hawks chant counter: 2

Note: As the game began, I took similar notes to these. Ultimately, you and I both know what happened, and chances are my reactions were awfully similar to the way you felt, as well. Here are some of my thoughts I experienced that don’t involve the game itself:

  • “You can’t do that!” Clap Clap ClapClapClap is without the dumbest chant that comes out of the student section every single game. It should be reserved for a JV high school football game (or a home game at Baylor).
  • Extremely Hot Take: The Sweet Caroline tradition needs to go. Here’s why: Sports teams everywhere use this song for crowd participation because it’s a popular song that a 5 year old could sing along to. The Red Sox play it at every home game. So do the Carolina Panthers. So does the Pitt football team, and so did(?) the Cleveland Cavaliers. My point is: If Iowa State is all about re-branding this football team, keeping a tradition that is associated with losing is not a good idea. You know what I think about when I hear the song? Blowing a lead against Oklahoma State 2 seasons ago. It needs to go.

Ultimately, the game ended and everyone headed back out to the tailgate. That’s when the real discussion began. The older fans were nonplussed with the game result. They’ve seen worse. I walked around the tailgate for a bit, listening and talking to anyone with a football opinion. Here are some of my favorite takes:

  • One of the guys at the tailgate tried to convince me that Lazard needed to be benched after his lackluster performance. I reminded him that he had caught 2 touchdowns (among other things). His response? He’s the highest ranked recruit in school history and has underachieved. Alrighty then. Next topic.
  • Consensus at the tailgate was that we had lost because of missed tackles and dropped passes. I agreed.

I could sit here and talk about the hammered UNI - I mean Iowa - fans that yelled at us on their way back to whatever community college they go to, but I won’t. I could also say that I talked to one of my buddy’s friends who told me before the game that the Hawks would “kill us” because “you guys suck.” I could also point out that he didn’t know the name of Iowa’s starting QB.

At some point I made the long journey back home to prepare for the inevitable rally (by this time I had quit taking notes). After a shower and consumption of literally anything that didn’t have alcohol, it was time to head out to the bars, where we faced a new challenge: Attempting to stay awake.

Welch was packed, but the company was fantastic. On more than one occasion I talked to Hawk fans who complimented us on the game and how they were having a great time in Ames. In another instance, a pair of Hawk fans asked to sit with my buddies and I to watch the Oklahoma-Ohio State game. We happily obliged; the more the merrier.

As the night (and bars) came to a close, I asked myself this question: Even after all that had happened, would I do it all over again if I knew ahead of time we would lose? The answer is an unequivocal “Yes.”

Being an Iowa State fan isn’t easy. You don’t do it because you want to. You’re born into it, or you go to school here. There is no such thing as a “fair weather” Iowa State fan. We are loyal. It isn’t a choice, it’s a privilege.