Austin is weird.
Fielding (Conner's roommate with whom he made the ISU trip last week) and I left the confines of Wacky Waco for the Weird early in the morning. We arrived in the capitol city around ten and, like most visiting fans, set about looking for the tailgating scene (Side note: There's a parking garage at 16th and Guadalupe that's $10 - that's half the cost of most garages - and is only a ten minute walk from the stadium). That's where we met our first disappointment for the day. Other than some decent-sized tailgates in parking lots along MLK, there was almost no tailgating to speak of. One would expect a stadium with 100,000+ seats to have a pretty rad tailgating scene, but I guess not. There was a George's tent-esque setup for the some alumni group near the entrances for the home side that looked pretty swanky, but overall, the tailgating scene was a huge disappointment. I guess there just isn't room enough for it with that massive stadium.
Instead of tailgating, we hit up a pizza place/sports bar on The Drag where we joined in with the Texas fans in drinking the tears of those down Highway 6. Texas and Baylor may not like each other, but we can agree on one thing: aggy sucks.
Speaking of the stadium, Darrel K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium is MASSIVE. Sure it looks like a 100-year old parking garage (because it kind of is), but the size is very befitting of the state university of the Lone Star State. The size is also a problem. Remember how people were clamoring over the fact that Baylor didn't build McLane Stadium to seat 55,000? There's good reason. When the stadium isn't full, you get pictures like these ones:
It's 28 minutes till kickoff... ☕ pic.twitter.com/i5nsfBczIL— Der Baylor Bär (@DerBaylorBaer) October 4, 2014
That's as the pre-game is going on.
Much like at TCU, the stadium did eventually fill up most of the way as fans trickled in during the first quarter, but I have a hard time believing that the attendance of 93,727 was really how many were there. The endzone seats were badly in need of a tarp on both sides. I'd guess about 80,000 were actually there, with only 30,000 staying to the end.
Baylor fans, however, had a very good showing. Section 32, the visitors section, was packed with Baylor fans and a few other sections were predominately green and gold as well. Due to my location above the main Baylor section, I couldn't really hear them all that much. Even if I could, the UT band drowned everyone out because they: 1) Are a massive band and 2) Played through the snap a number of times. I know Baylor plays much faster than you're used to, Texas band, but you gotta fix that. The stadium speakers played through the snap several times as well.
Here's where I would put a rant about the horrendous officiating, but I think you all know how bad it was yesterday.
Overall though, the Texas fans were a nice bunch. I didn't catch any flak from them for being a Baylor fan, although the blue-hair lady in front of me did say that cheering on my team as they came over to our side at the end of the game during "The Eyes of Texas" was unsportsmanlike. Yeah, okay, and your band/speakers didn't play over our band like a million times... We made conversation with some of them about the game and shared in our general hatred of A&M (the loudest the stadium got was when the PA announcer announced the final score from Starkville). The fans that were there did recognize how to get loud on defensive downs, and the place was boisterous a few times on third and long, but for a 90,000+ crowd, I was a bit underwhelmed by the noise. Perhaps it was because my seat was high up and a lot of the noise was lost by that time, but I expected more. The Texas fans are cognizant of their team's mediocrity and it clearly showed yesterday. I have no doubt that DKR was one of the most intimidating places to play back when Texas was great, but it is merely average now. I'll take McLane any day.
The student section in the endzone did chant a decent amount of profane things, but college students tend to do that. This is all I have to say to that:
The students of Texas are a-fleein' pic.twitter.com/BzwA54ZBpr— Der Baylor Bär (@DerBaylorBaer) October 4, 2014
I do have a bone to pick with one Baylor student though. During a Longhorn injury (which did look a tad like a tactical injury, to be honest), he stood up and started yelling at the player, saying the injury was "bush-league" and that it was an "Aggie thing to do", among other things. Honestly, that was incredibly embarrassing for us Baylor fans in the vicinity. Yelling disrespectful things towards the opposing team, especially at their stadium, is not something the University stands for. You can do better.
Concessions were not too badly priced. A liter of water cost $5.50, which is only $0.50 more than in Waco. I didn't buy anything else inside the stadium. The bathroom situation wasn't terrible either; better than the Case, but not as good as McClane, which is about what I expected. After the game, we went for victory ice cream at Amy's Ice Cream (highly recommend, by the way) and the guys behind the counter were dressed up as the Joker and Batman. You be you, Austin.
Weird times in a weird city with one of the weirdest games I've ever witnessed. DKR is a great stadium to go visit, but the atmosphere was clearly affected by the burnt orange product on the field (plus the fact that ACL was this weekend, as well). I would go back for a Baylor game, for sure, but I don't think I would shell out the cash for a game as a neutral observer because, at least for right now, Austinites are more interested in a music festival than a football game.
Stadium: B - DKR is a massive venue, but not all that pretty. Efficient, but not great.
Fans: A- for interactions I had, C+ for their interaction with the game - I was greeted better at Oklahoma State of all places (by the fans over 30, that is) while Texas fans just kind of ignore you. A mediocre showing of fan support for a mediocre team.
Tailgating: F - Where was it?
Overall: B - Not a bad experience, but underwhelming.
One final thought: Hearing and participating in a "Let's Go Baylor!" chant in Austin after grinding UT to the ground was an excellent way to end the game. Baylor runs this state, y'all.