Sun Devil Game Days – Part I

A member of the staff (Big E SunDvl) has been kind enough to share his and his friends' game days routine. This is the first of a three-part series discussing typical game-day rituals of a group of ASU football fanatics. The focus of this article is the game day ritual of his group of friends on game days in which they do not tailgate in the parking lot of Sun Devil Stadium.

The day begins with the alarm clock sounding at 8AM. I quickly get out of bed and go to the family room. I click on the TV and turn up the sound so I can hear it while I make my breakfast in the kitchen. College Game Day is on ESPN and I want to hear what they have to say about the games on tap today, especially the Pac 10 and the Sun Devils in particular (if we even get mentioned).

Once breakfast is prepared, and it does not take long to prepare some sort of breakfast bar and a glass of milk, I sit in the lounger in front of the "boob tube." I know I will spend much of my morning and early afternoon here. By now, my roommate has usually joined me (yes, he sits in a different chair). We watch College Game Day in its entirety; making sure to note what time the first Pac-10 comment was made (usually about 75% of the way through the show).

Once Game Day is over, we start making plans for the day. On this day we are not planning to tailgate in the Sun Devil Stadium parking lot (part two of this series will focus on tailgating), but we still plan a full day of preparing for the 7pm kick-off. At this time, ESPN and ESPN2 are most likely showing a middle-tier Big Ten or SEC game, so it is time to get cleaned up (both me and my condo) for the day's events. I don't mind missing much of the Indiana-Iowa or Mississippi State-Georgia match-ups, but I still check the scores and news on the ticker at the bottom of the screen while I am cleaning. I gotta have my football news.

Finally, the place is clean and so am I, so it is time to start conversations with my crew of friends that are always up to party before the games. I spend the next 20 or 30 minutes on the phone alerting people that my roommate and I are going to BBQ at our place around 1:00pm and then head over to Mill Ave. to pre-party before the game.

After the crew is on notice of the events of the day, my roommate and I throw on our gold T-shirts and head out to the grocery store to buy the items necessary for a game-day BBQ. We pick up brats, hamburgers, chicken breasts, buns, potato salad, pasta salad, charcoal, and whatever condiments the meal requires. Oh yeah, and we buy a couple cases of Bud Light or Corona (with limes) to get the day started. On our way to the car after checkout, we promise ourselves that we are going to make our friends contribute to the BBQ fund this time, but it probably won't happen.

Back at home; I click on the TV to see if any new football news has developed during my trip to the grocery store. Probably not, but you never know. It is now time to begin the BBQ preparations. My roommate or I throw the charcoal in the Weber and get the coals started while the other is preparing the meat for the grill. The brats need to be boiled in beer. The burgers need to be seasoned. The chicken needs to be marinated. We want the food to hold up to the BBQ reputation we have built from past football seasons.

About the time the coals are ready and the meat goes on the grill, our friends start to arrive. Each of them is decked out in gold and ready to eat and party before the game. On any given game day, anywhere between 4 and 10 friends show up. Everyone just sits, watches what is now an early Pac 10 game on the tube, and talks football, amongst other topics ("Where is the beer?").

The food is served and everyone goes about getting their fill. Also by now, we have each had an adult beverage or two and the drinking pace starts to quicken. It is amazing how they go down so easy after you have had a couple. During the meal, we will probably discuss the opponent in tonight's game and how ASU matches up with them. "The defense has to do X," and, "Koetter should do Y," are regular topics of discussion.

Finally, it is time to leave the condo and head to Mill Ave. I grab the gold ASU flag and its collapsible flag pole that has gone with me to every home and away game I have attended since the 1996 Rose Bowl season. Because stadium security may read this, I will leave out the other accessories I grab on the way out the door (hint: it fits nicely in my pocket and carries a Captain in it).

We figure out who is going to drive, knowing they will most likely have to leave their car(s) in the parking lot by Mill Ave. because we will be steadily partying throughout the day. Everyone loads in and we are on our way. The gold ASU car window flags flutter loudly on the short drive to downtown Tempe.

After paying for parking, or using the excuse that, "We are visiting our friends in the Hayden Square Condos," we have to decide where we are going first. There are so many cool places to choose from. Should we go to McDuffy's and watch every 1A college football game being played at the moment? Should we head over to Mill Ave. Brewing Company to have a cold, frosty one? Maybe we should go to Palapa's for a $2 Corona or two. We decide that Fat Tuesday's is our destination of choice. Upon arriving at "Fatty's," we all order a slushee drink. I always order a Pixie Stick (half grape, half strawberry). It is not on the menu, but the bartenders know how to make them. Now the partying is in full effect. We still discuss tonight's match-up and the ASU team in general, but old "war stories" are a topic of conversation, too ("Remember that time…?")

After Fat Tuesday's, we decide to venture toward the stadium for our last beer before heading over to our seats. For us, that means we are going to Bandersnatch. "Bander's" is a great place to stop before an ASU home game. The back is fenced off and there are plenty of ASU fans preparing for the game. I get a Bud Light "Tall Boy" (22 oz.) and continue the conversation with my friends and anyone else that I know that just happens to be at Bandersnatch. I am getting excited because I know kick-off is not far away.

As game time approaches, we decide it is time to walk over to Sun Devil Stadium. It is only a couple hundred yards from the Bandersnatch front door and there are plenty of other fans leading the way. On the walk over, I break down the collapsible flag pole, wrap the gold ASU flag around it, and stuff it in the front of my pants so it will make it past security at the front gates. We have been told in the past that the flagpole is a "weapon" and that we cannot bring it into the stadium, so we had to come up with a creative way to get it into the stands. Once we get it into the stadium, we usually don't get hassled when we attach the flag and wave it, so we can't complain.

Finally, we are at our seats and kick-off is just minutes away. My crew is prepared to cheer, clap, scream, boo, yell, holler, heckle, or anything else that may help the Sun Devils to victory. We just want to win, baby!

After the game, we will either be very happy or really bummed, based on the final score. The feeling won't last too long, though, because we know that we are going to do it all over again next week!

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