Note: (August 2013): This post was originally published Sept 16, 2011. There are numerous references to “thirties” and “bottles” which was an intentional reference to what was the name of my blog at the time. It’s also interesting to see how my writing style has subtly changed in the last two years. It’s the same post, but I am adding a very important update from the year 2011 and a few more pictures. Hope you enjoy.)
The annual outdoor kegger known as the Rocky Mountain Showdown starts bright and early again Saturday morning. I went to my first Showdown in 2006 and I’m looking forward to attending my sixth consecutive Showdown this weekend; I’ll be providing a thirty and a bottle. I have a feeling some of the other 65,000+ attendees will bring some libations as well. I’ve been a CSU fan for as long as I can remember, so I recall the big time moments. I remember watching the Bradlee Van Pelt head spike on TV. I remember the Marcus Houston goal line stand. I remember the tear gas. I was a kid for those. The CU game took on a whole new meaning to me when I started to go in person.
I’ve had a blast at each of the last five contests between the Buffaloes and the Rams, although some years have been more fun than others.
My eyes were opened to the awesomeness of this game in 2006. My freshman year at CSU, a random mix of kids from 3NW Parmelee Hall piled in my bright red ’95 Buick Skylark (may God rest her classic soul) and headed down I-25. We didn’t know exactly what we were getting into. The traffic and parking thing was kind of a disaster but we settled into some good seats before kickoff. Surprisingly, I wasn’t much of a drinker at this time so we bypassed the tailgating experience, which seems like a heinous crime today.
Anyway, during the game I was blown away by the passion, intensity and vulgarity of the student section. The “Dir-Ty-Hipp-ies” chant never seemed to end. I remember thinking, “I can get down with this.” CSU won, 14-10 behind a 20-23 effort from Caleb Hanie and a big touchdown grab from Korey Sperry. Dan Hawkins was 0-2 as CU’s coach after losing to Montana State the previous week. Some CSU fans wore Blue and White Montana State shirts. Driving back to Fort Collins I kind of knew I wasn’t going to miss too many of these games.
In 2007 the TV networks rewarded our not-so nationally prominent programs with the coveted 10 a.m. kickoff slot. I wondered what the tailgating scene would be like at 7 in the morning. It was not hindered. We pulled up to see beer pong games already in hotly contested double-overtime. Thirties and bottles were being torn apart before most of the state’s alarm clocks had gone off. The game was exciting but disappointing. Down 31-28 in overtime, Hanie threw an interception in the end zone to end the last game Sonny Lubick coached against the University of Colorado.
One of my best friends got punched in the face in 2008. This might be my favorite off-field memory of these games. By this year, we were all-in, tailgating veterans. Grill. Truck. Music. Multiple thirties. Plenty of bottles. Prime Location. And the time-slot, though on a Sunday, was an ideal 5:30 p.m.
Naturally, it was our duty to accost and harass anyone who came through our parking lot in a gold shirt. After a few hours of drinking, Matt 3 (that’s just his name, don’t ask questions) decided a CU fan deserved to have some Keystone Light dumped on his head. Not like a celebratory, waving/spraying of beer, just a calm three-second pour as if the kid was balancing a cup on top of his head and Matt was just topping him off. The Boulderite shockingly did not appreciate this gesture and cold-cocked 3 (below, shirtless) right in his cheek.
Somehow a random CSU girl managed to calm Matt down– not a particularly easy task– and the situation did not escalate. It helped that she was a certified bombshell. Maybe she was an angel of peace. Anyway, the CU kid had some friends in green and gold that kept the rest of us from throwing down in fisticuffs, as Ron Burgundy would say.
That was the same year we saw people (not in our group) throwing full, unopened cans of beer at CU kids. That was the same year I had my brother Andrew’s (above, tongue out, one eye unintentionally closed) ticket. I never gave it to him and when we were going into the stadium he was nowhere to be found. He got into the game without a ducat, although he’s not sure how. I’m still waiting for him to pay me for that unused ticket. He did receive a different kind of ticket before the game, this one for public urination after relieving himself on someone’s CU flag that was laid on a grassy knoll. Looking back, that was quite the tailgate.
Inside the stadium ,things were equally chaotic for CSU in Steve Fairchild’s debut. An uninteresting 38-17 loss. There were back-to-back kickoff returns for each team, which was kind of cool I guess. Whatever. We left dejected and already hungover.
The game was in Boulder my senior year. A lot of CSU students didn’t go as some sort of stupid protest or something. It was a true road game, so there were no deals for CSU student tickets. My friends and I each dropped about $70 to get into Folsom. It was worth every penny. For the first time in the series, I admittedly drank a little bit too much, but I still remember the good parts.
As our group of about ten was walking into the stadium, we encountered a girl from CU. If I drank a little too much, she drank way too much. As her boyfriend looked on in embarrassment, she tried to fight a couple of us. She was stumbling forward attempting to land absolute haymakers on one of my friends. He calmly ducked under them as the rest of us were just cackling with laughter. She had a legitimate audience and, even though she didn’t know it, she was killing the crowd.
Andrew decided to come to the tailgating festivities this year without a ticket again. Naturally, by game time he had enough liquid courage to attempt to get into the game without one. After a few security guards had turned him away, his friend Travis, who was already inside, did something hilarious. Forgetting that he had his face painted in green and gold lettering, he found a yellow security jacket, put it on and tried to tell another security guard that Andrew had to come with him. It may have been the painted face, the plaid shorts, or the sandals, but that didn’t work. Andrew eventually found a ticket-taker who didn’t care enough to fight off a sea of drunk kids. He gave him a ticket that was already scanned and the dude let him in anyway.
Inside the stadium, things went pretty well. CSU jumped out to a 17-0 lead behind two John Mosure touchdowns. The Rams held on for a 23-17 win and the CSU students who are not lame left our seats and celebrated with the team on Folsom Field. We rushed the hell out of that field, and it was one hell of a party. Dancing on the midfield logo. “C-S-U!” chants. Waving to the gold-clad fans in their season-ticket seats as they angrily watched in disgust. Snow angels (minus the snow) in the endzone. That experience is probably once-in-a-lifetime and I was pretty lucky to be a part of it.
Last year was my first game as a graduate, but I went disguised as a 5th-year senior. This one was pretty uneventful. We got to the parking lot early and grilled and drank. I remember pouring 16 ounces of Vodka (Burnette’s of course) into a cup because I didn’t want to walk around with an open container. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I shared it with strangers who seemed to appreciate my kindness. The game was a blowout. Pete Thomas threw three pics; Tyler Hansen accounted for three touchdowns. We left pissed off sometime in the third quarter as CU handed us a 24-3 ass kicking.
I’m planning on taking a more grown-up approach to this game (I even bought my first non-student-section ticket!), but that might fly out the window after slamming a couple beer bongs and imbibing some Jim Beam. Just like that first game in 2006, I never know exactly what I’m getting myself into at the Rocky Mountain Showdown.
Very important update (8/31/13):
“I’m planning on taking a more grown-up approach to this game.” Ummm… yeah. In 2011, we partied pretty hard and the tailgating was a blast. A couple specific moments stick out enough for me to share them with you.
Our group was posted up with a few cars on the edge of one of the CSU parking lots. Beyond the lot there is a curb, and a grassy hill that leads to a sidewalk. The hill is probably about 15 feet high and the sidewalk is probably about 25 yards from where my group was primarily positioned. Naturally, over the course of the tailgate, this sidewalk is a major thoroughfare with heavy pedestrian traffic from fans of both teams.
Eventually, we decided it was time to harass some folks in yellow shirts. Not sure why; I guess we were just sick of looking at that horrible color. At some point, somebody suggested to my friend Todd, that he take a hot dog off the grill and try to hit a CU fan with it. This quickly became the moment when Todd stole the show. We’ve known Todd for years and he’s a good dude, but there is no doubt at all that this sequence of events is truly his one shining moment.
There’s always a handful of unused burgers and dogs that go uneaten, and Todd grabbed one. With a smirk and an uncontrollable boyish giggle, Todd actually throws the damn thing. I think this was unexpected by most of us. Whoever suggested this brilliant idea probably didn’t think he would actually do it. But he did. He grabbed the dog with his thumb and forefinger and flung this wiener end-over-end on a high, looping arc, similar to that of the opening kickoff a couple hours later. The throw turned out to be an unbridled success as Todd hit the pretend bullseye on this grown man’s chest. He was clearly surprised that a cooked Oscar Meyer had come out of nowhere to bounce of his chest, but he kept his cool and didn’t really look over.
We had a subdued reaction. Mostly it was turning our backs and stifling our uncontrollable laughter. That was pretty awesome, but that was just the build up.
A little while later, someone suggested to Todd that he try the same feat, only with a burger instead of a dog. At this point it should be no surprise that Todd accepted this challenge. He grabbed a cooked patty that wasn’t going to be eaten and picked his yellow-clad target. Again most of us were surprised that he was actually doing this.
So as our large group looked on in excited anticipation with a sense of wonder, Todd flings this thing like a frisbee. Not an across-the-body, backhand frisbee throw, but an off-to-the-side, submarine style frisbee throw with a dip of the shoulder.
The flight of this hamburger is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, and I say that without hyperbole.
Keep in mind Todd’s intended target was about 25 yards away and up a 15-foot hill. Initially the burger is tailing to the right and it looks like this will be a letdown following the tremendous hot dog incident. But then… the burger starts to curve… like an intended hook on a golf ball or a frisbee floating on a gentle breeze….
The hamburger catches this dude precisely on the temple and absolutely explodes upon impact. Our tailgating group also exploded upon impact. Ohhhhhhh! There was about 12 of us jumping around like we were all on Maury and learned we arrrrrrrre NOT the father. Todd immediately rolled right into the “Cat Daddy” dance (fellas, you’ll want to click that link). Seriously though, the reaction was the best part of the entire day and it was eerily similar to this:
I mean, it was EERILY similar to that.
CSU lost that year, by the way.
Since I’m on the topic, here are some pics of my favorite tradition, The Group Shotgun. Pictures tell me it began in 2010. It will never die.
Top 2010, Middle 2011, Bottom 2012.
Thanks for reading. Go Rams. Hope to see you all tomorrow.