ESPN’s College Gameday: An Unexpected Journey


Mississippi State is set to take on Alabama for all the marbles this weekend, and ESPN’s College Gameday is in town for all the action.

I didn’t originally plan to write an article this week, figuring I would wait until the clash Saturday to either help celebrate or to talk some of our fans off the edge. However, I decided to create a little survival plan for everyone reading.

Sidebar: I’ve been watching a lot of Lord of the Rings lately, so things may get exceptionally geeky. If you don’t understand a reference, congrats you’re not a geek. For the rest of you, welcome brothers and sisters.

Before you start on your journey, you must first ask yourself; are you prepared for this epic? You must first travel through the frigid weather. No this isn’t Alabama oh-it’s-a-little-cold weather. I’m talking freezing weather. It’s basically the planet Hoth (okay fine, one Star Wars reference). Bundle up.

Get ready for the crowds. It’s going to be crazier than a Baggins’ birthday bash in The Shire. It will include some students still drunk from the bars, the people way too excited about trying to get front row and even, god help us, cowbells. If you’re gunning for a good spot, you have to leave before the sun comes up and, as Legolas puts it, “A red sun rises. Blood has been spilled this night.” In this case, someone probably spilled a full yellowhammer.

It’s a tall task for any mortal, let alone one looking to see the old wizard named Corso to place the headgear upon his silver hair.

Is it that important? What if I told you Corso isn’t even an impressive wizard? He’s no Gandalf. The wizard is usually wrong, in a magical sense.

Okay so you made it to Mordor – I mean the ESPN Gameday area. What now? What’s your sign? Is it funny? After you say yes, really think about it and get back to me.

Okay where to stand. I would advise not directly in the middle because you’re not going to want to fight the crowd if you have to leave early or have to make a bathroom run because you had one too many cups of coffee. The side areas have railings, and you’re going to stand straight for 5+ hours, so there’s no shame if you go directly to a railing. It’s called school passion but the smart way, not lazy.

If you don’t have a sign, why bother putting in so much effort? Think of the Fellowship of the Rings; the people that storm the battlefield first are always the first ones to die. In this case, take a few extra hours of sleep or go get in some early tailgating. If you just want to watch it live then there’s still a good view in the back. Don’t be the guy in the very front holding up your hands and pretending you’re holding a sign.

I’ve probably been a little rough on Gameday, so let me give you some positives. Erin Andrews acknowledged my existence once. That’s the best possible outcome and she’s not even on the show anymore. Outside of that, maybe you become a meme or your poster makes it on twitter.

Look, if you’ve never been then just go. The temptation – much like the One Ring – is going to win out. It will persuade you to go crazy at 11 a.m. over some game picks.

You also want to go with friends, but make sure they’re fully committed to the journey. Last thing you want to do is plan this whole trip and halfway through the quest some of the Fellowship wants to turn around. Lame. That’s not a full trilogy; it’s an Adam Sandler movie. You know, the kind he started making when he stopped caring. Or it’s like a Dane Cook joke, which is just horrible no matter how long it is.

So we made it through the epic event. It was a hurried ending I know, but that’s how you’ll feel when 11 a.m. rolls around. Do you feel dirty on the inside? Do you need a shower? Too bad because now it’s 11 a.m. and it’s almost game time.

Some final tips:

  • Don’t go too crazy Friday night. Saturday is the big day. You don’t shoot off your best fireworks on July 3rd do you? Beware of getting stuck in the bars too late. Assuming you’re going out, if you’re trying to do Gameday properly you need to be up at 5 a.m. so the clock starts immediately after midnight.
  • As my spirit animal, Hunter S. Thompson, once said, “It’s Super Bowl Sunday, have to start with a super breakfast.” Food is good, especially if you’re tailgating all day. Think a cup of coffee will do? Well, make sure your tailgate actually has food or you may be royally screwed. The Waffle House, for once, is your friend.
  • If you’re tailgating, slow down Speed Racer. A game day is not a race, don’t let the amateurs fool you. Don’t be the guy or gal passed out on the quad thirty minutes before kickoff like my roommate on Florida weekend (I hope he doesn’t read this). It’s a big weekend, soak it in. Just don’t soak too much fireball in before the game actually starts. The post game celebration on the strip is going to be just as crazy as the tailgate, and you have to rally.

Just in case you’re too mentally exhausted to figure out what to do next, let me reference this article from over the summer. It’s what you have to do when you go tailgating.

Listen to my words carefully and we’ll make it out alright. Follow the tailgating tips, remember the treachery that can be Gameday and of course, continue to roll with the Tide.