Being up for 22 hours is almost never a good thing. Very few reasons can dignify staying awake for 22 straight hours, especially when only sleeping three hours the night before. But College Ames Day is a once in a life time opportunity. So here is the chronicled odyssey of that magical time from 2 a.m. till 11 a.m. where Iowa State University was the epicenter of college football.
2 a.m.- Alarms off, go straight to Twitter and look at the live stream of gameday, basically no one. I’m wide awake, feeling good. I wake up my roommate, call our ride to the stadium, and get ready for the day. Sign, check. Sweatshirt, check. Screenshot ticket on my phone, check.
2:35 a.m.- Josh arrives at the apartment, and five of us file into his truck. The thing about getting up at 2 a.m. is that it feels like a made up time. If you have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. that’s really early, and not fun. Waking up in the middle of the night seems like you’re on a different planet, it’s pre-early.
2:45 a.m.- We get dropped off just south of the stadium. Josh, and my roommate Danny go to Hy-Vee on Grand while we get a spot in “line”.
The line is a loose construct at this point. It resembled more of a middle school dance where little sub circles of people make light conversation while it’s pitch black out, and a brigade of security is making sure no one congregates towards the entrance.
Well, most people were making light conversation. For a couple of Hawk fans, it was their shining moment. Blaring ‘back in black’ and the Iowa fight song for what had to be a half hour straight. They were super funny, and very tolerable at 2:45 in the morning.
3 a.m.- I’m one and a half Red Bulls deep by now and decide I should probably slow down on the Red Bull intake. The small circles have slowly moved into a huge mass of people near the grass. Security had been adamant about this not happening because the ‘line’ doesn’t start till 3:30.
“We’re gonna start lining up a little early. No one run, or you will not be let in the pit.”
Security guy’s pause caused a wildebeest stampede towards the pit. And if you weren’t light on your feet you were gonna fall to the ground. It was like Black Friday, but to get into the line that got into the line. After thirty seconds of pushing and shoving we ended up about 8 rows back from the very front. I open another Red Bull.
3:30-5:30 a.m.- This was mostly two hours of the same stuff. I looked behind me “ooh’d and ahh’d” at the huge line forming at 4 a.m. in the morning for GameDay and constant phone checking. I slowed down on the energy consumption since my whole body was jittery and I felt like I could stay awake for the rest of my life.
A quick passing tribute to ‘DJ Khaled’. Thursday night, my friend came across a guy who looked very much like ‘DJ Khaled’ at the bars. They struck up conversation and he promised to give my roommate seats in the Coke Zero zone. It all sounded very fishy, but I called ‘DJ Khaled’ at 5 am and he promised once again that he could get us free seats, free breakfast, and free drinks. However, he was stuck in traffic and the pit was about to open. We declined the offer.
After later seeing the only guy at GameDay who looked anything like ‘DJ Khaled’ in the Coke Zero zone with credentials on, the guy turned out to be legit. So here’s to you ‘DJ Khaled’.
The other hero of pre-gameday was Parker Mahomes. A security guard who had a STRIKING resemblance to Pat Mahomes. He was taking pictures with students, chucking footballs in the parking lot to the moon. So good on you Parker Mahommes for putting up with dumb college kids at 4 a.m.
5:30- Here’s a tip to future GameDay goer’s: bring along a girl. Before they let you in they separate the line by male and female for each to be patted down and go through security. I would say the ratio of guys to girls was about 10-1 and the girls saved us a seat in the front row when we should’ve been about three rows back.
Also a very tense two seconds while my sign got studied. The one girl didn’t know what I meant, the guy behind them laughed, and the other looked at me looked at my sign and it was waved in.
“Like a Bad Neighbor Kirk Ferentz Is There”
5:30-8: I have a questions for ESPN. Do you really think a playlist that features country songs and rock ballads from the 70’s and 80’s are going to wake people up? The cameras aren’t on yet. Go ahead, bump Drake, Meek Mill, Kanye... you gotta get the people going. Eric Church (We’ll get back to him later) isn’t going to rile up a crowd. It’s just not.
ESPN personalities started to make appearances as sunlight began to show. David Pollack, Maria Taylor, Chris Fallica all got huge ovations. But let me tell you, Lee Corso is a national treasure. He raised the Cyclone’s helmet, cheers, Hawk’s helmet, boos, Cyclone’s helmet cheers, then he threw the Hawkeye helmet on the ground and it got ELECTRIC.
Also, looking around and seeing nothing but Cyclones fans in every direction. This was the first time it felt surreal. I could not believe College Gameday was actually in our cit-ay.
Show open: Reece Davis has the smoothest voice in sports. The Cyclone weather alert intro he delivered, I got CHILLS, CHILLS I tell you. That guy can read a teleprompter better than Brock Purdy can read a defense.
Let’s just take a moment and appreciate how beautiful of a backdrop the Sukup End Zone was. Wow.
9 a.m.- Unfortunately, this is was the first wave of tiredness shortly after GameDay starts. Some DJ is trying to pump the crowd up with some free Home Depot merch. Your knees are stiff, this is where the idea of sitting in a lawn chair and drinking a few cold ones starts to become more appealing. And sure enough, it was only Josh and I once 9 o’clock came around.
We stuck it out for one more hour, got to touch the original Cy-Hawk trophy, and then headed out to the tailgates.
10 a.m.- Being in the no food or drink zone was a very different world than the lots. People were already rumblin, stumblin, fumblin all over the tailgates by the time I made it to B5. I opted for a water feeling ready for a nap.
The WRNL tailgate had a great live podcast, shoutout to Ya Boy Matt Campbell, but perhaps even greater walking tacos after not eating for the first 10 hours of the day.
11 a.m.- I watched the remainder of College Gameday from TVs while I was getting rained on. And I will end this near 10 hour saga with a very simple sentence. Lee Corso’s opinion carries much more weight than Eric Church’s.
All and all, I would get up at 2 a.m., pound four red bulls before 5 a.m., and stay on my feet for 8 hours all over again. I want to thank my roomates for waking up with me, Cyclone Nation for showing out, and my bed at the end of the day at 11 pm.
I survived College Ames Day.