I had no idea what to expect going into Thursday's game tailgating wise. Partially because I couldn't have it on my mind due to the fact that my three classes that day were quiz, test, test. Which, really, is not good because my mind is away from my schoolwork on game days. Mostly because the majority of game days are on a Saturday, but still. Regardless, I got what I needed to get done done and got out to enjoy the second to last tailgate ever at Floyd Casey Stadium. What ensued was...interesting.
As previously stated above, I was busy all day and the day/night before so I was running on about an hour of sleep going into the game. I was able to be the tailgate area at about 3:00. To be honest, I forgot what traffic to the game looked like seeing as I am usually there at least six hours prior to game time to avoid any traffic and begin tailgating. Upon arrival there were not very many people there. Those in charge of students tailgating had given us time to set up the day before to save us some time of set up after class Thursday, so really there were just a bunch of tents and grills in tailgate spots scattered throughout the student tailgate area not in use.
As relaxing as the tailgates usually are this one seemed...hectic. I don't know if that is the right word, or if I was just running on fumes or what, but the mood was different. Excitement was in the air definitely. Everyone had their black on. I even went out and got some black wranglers for the occasion. By about 4:30-5:00 the tailgate area was at its peak with people finally starting to make their way to the game.
The reason I described this tailgate as hectic is because I think there was just so much going on. The sorority of Zeta Tau Alpha had a tailgate last week that was actually deemed a "tailgate crush". Shirts were made, the food was catered and I heard the ballpark estimate spent on said tailgate was $6,000. Across from that was an inflatable laser tag course. I can't say that I know anyone that went inside there to play laser tag, but the idea seemed a bit...odd to me at a tailgate. Maybe it was for the kids? I just don't see how the events of football and laser tag really match up. Also, it was discussed a week or so ago how strict Baylor has been on alcohol at tailgates. Let me preface this with saying that there has never been a time where alcohol was allowed in the student tailgating area, even to those of age. In the past you would see alumni and other adults casually walk by the area with a beer in hand just to check out the scene, but this time if you were in the student area at all, even just walking by, with an alcoholic beverage, you were told to leave. I saw a girl get stopped for having a pepsi because the guy thought it was a beer. So, as to our discussion in the previous week or two about how seemingly the tailgating areas have become more relaxed in regards to alcohol, it appears that they are cracking down again in the tailgating area. I'll reiterate this just so I don't get in trouble here, I completely understand why the student organizations cannot have alcohol and agree with the ban there, but for passers by to be asked to go around that seems a little strange, especially because this is the first time it has been strictly enforced. Its kind of like any sporting event with referees, you want the game called the same way throughout the entirety of the game, not for the officials to change up how they do things in the 4th quarter as opposed to the first three. If this is how Baylor is going to continue with the student tailgating areas then that is fine, just be warned that if anyone comes that way to say hi to me or just to check things out that if you have an alcoholic beverage, you will be turned away.
With that being said, with the game being as big it was, I wanted to get there early and try to sit somewhat close to the field. Normally, I leave for the game about 10-20 minutes before kickoff and sit decently high up, but I get there in time for kickoff and am able to sit around like 30 of my good friends. Last Thursday I left a little before 5:30 and I barely got into the student section due to how many people had gotten there so early. In fact, there was a point where students were beginning to be turned away form the student section and told to go to the south end zone because there simply wasn't enough room in the normal student section anymore. Which, I think, is pretty cool. I never thought I could get to a Baylor game an hour early and almost not be able to sit where I normally do. It was a cool experience, and from what I hear the black out looked awesome. From what I hear, those in the south end zone weren't as packed in as those in the normal student section, M-Q I think, something like that, but it was still pretty crowded and loud over there.
It was a fantastic atmosphere. I said this before on twitter, but I feel like I go to a school with a major football program now. It's one thing for the team to be good, but I'm honestly surprised and impressed and so very happy about how much the student body has gotten behind this team and given them such a great home field advantage. Aside form last year's TCU game, which we can all agree was an awful performance, Baylor has been very good at FCS.
I expect the tailgating scene for the next tailgate, AKA the last tailgate ever at Floyd Casey Stadium, to be absolutely huge. I know of one fraternity that is going to get a live band to play, so I guess I have to figure out some way to combat that. Maybe I'll hold a free-throw competition that involves students v. the basketball team. Too soon?