My alarm goes off at 7:30 and the day greets me with a smack of "Crush" by Jennifer Paige to the face. I love this song. Also, Louisville is playing a home football game today.
I get the coffee started before I hit the shower to kick-off the standard morning routine. "Crush" has never been more in my head. The Headquarters roommates are finding this out.
Tailgate mornings generally involve a last-second trip to Kroger, and this one is no different. I promised friends that I would be there with a U of L cookie cake in tow, and that's a promise I don't intend on breaking.
You almost always run into a friend, family, member or acquaintance during the pre-tailgate portion of a home game day, and on this morning that person is former CC crush Bilal Powell. The Jets have a bye and he's home with his wife and newborn child visiting some folks. He thanks me for the unwavering support that CC showed him while he was a Cardinal and says it's the only reason he was able to breakout as a senior. There are a ridiculous number of pretzel chips in his shopping cart. I'm talking at least 15 bags. Guess they don't have them in New York.
Bilal says he's not going to be able to make it out to the game because of the kid and all, but that he's confident this will be a major day for the Cardinal program. We bro hug and part ways.
I locate the bakery folks and they have a specially made cookie cake waiting for me. The cake includes me being hoisted into the air while wearing my Art Carmody jersey. The trim is red. The woman who hands it to me is crying.
About 15 minutes later we're on the road to make sure we're at our spot by 9 a.m. Tom Jurich is behind the wheel because he's always behind the wheel on game days. Loves the control and is just a giving type of guy in general. Also, Tom Jurich lives at CC Headquarters in this scenario.
We hit the gravel lot next to Old Cardinal right at 9 a.m. Most of us have green lot passes or could acquire them, but we all agree that Old Cardinal stays the spot in order to accomodate the few who don't or can't. It's a loving group.
A few other members of the crew are already set up and looking comfortable. Jurich gives his signature triple honk to let everyone know that the calvary has arrived.
It's no shock that Mayor Greg Fischer already has his tent and full spread of food lined up and ready to go. The thing about Fisch is that he's sort of like that really nice friends' parent who you tailgate with; he's more than willing to supply the bulk of the food, but he doesn't want you to feel overly indebted or anything. In fact, you spend most of the day forgetting that he's even there. A standard "oh dear, this looks amazing, thanks again" once at the beginning of the day will suffice.
Most of us haven't even started eating when Schnelly busts the cornhole boards out. One board has the infamous picture of himself smoking his pipe and the other is a picture of one of his dogs wearing a cheerleading outfit. None of us really get this, but Schnelly thinks it's the funniest thing in the world.
Harned and I take to our sides without even saying a word. We haven't been beaten in seven years and see no reason for that to change today.
Jim James takes a quick break from supplying the music - he played "Crush" for me earlier because it's still lodged in my brain - to saunter over to Schnelly's boards. He's become "won't leave his wife/girlfriend alone during the tailgate guy" recently and it's really starting to rub a lot of us the wrong way. You know, the guy who responds to "hey man, you want to play?" with "sure...hey babe, let's do this."
Harned and I take James and girlfriend down 21-1. We do our choreographed victory celebration with some added emphasis on the post-backflip high-five to let James know we aren't thrilled about the shit he just pulled. He gives us a shrug and a pained look before mouthing "I'm sorry" in an overly dramatic manner. It makes both of us feel bad. He's just trying to be a good boyfriend the only way he knows how. We both love Jim. Everyone loves Jim.
Russ and Gorgui have literally been throwing the football for the past three hours. They've also made a wager on which one of the horses bearing their names will win more races over the next 12 months. The winner gets to room with Dark Slime senior year. He's insanely clean.
We're only an hour and-a-half from kickoff and Little John has had way too many. He always does this shit and it drives me crazy. It's just like his commercials: yeah, they're funny, but you can only take so much. You hear the same story about his drunken shenanigans (commercials) 50 or so times and you start to get resentful. We're far too old for this. I'm just glad I don't have to sit anywhere near him.
We're still an hour away from kickoff when Diane Sawyer (yes, Diane Sawyer is at my dream U of L tailgate, deal) starts her "we need to get this show on the road" routine and everyone begins to pack. She's the biggest "in your seats well before kickoff" person I know, and I love her for it.
We all make the trek to the stadium, witness a Cardinal beatdown of epic proportions, and meet up back in the lot for a celebratory drink before settling on a plan for the evening. My Gattiland suggestion is shot down with tremendous speed.
These are the things I spend my days thinking about.