Game Day 101
Some call it the official kickoff to fall and some just call it an excuse to have a good time. Either way, to Kansas City football fans, college game day is true religion.
Nestled in the epicenter of Division 1 college football, Kansas City is central to some of the most deep-rooted game day legacies in the sport. Whether they are wiping sweat or trying to keep warm, fans and students alike take in the game day experience at the University of Kansas, the University of Missouri and Kansas State University Saturday after Saturday each fall.
But when it comes to tailgating traditions, it’s a matter of alma mater. From the 50-yard line to the parking lots, each of these universities has a unique game day atmosphere, and we have discovered just what makes these three universities so attractive come football season. So whether you bleed black and gold, chant “Rock Chalk” or swim in a sea of purple, folks, college football is just around the corner.
Ah, I can almost smell the brats and hear the washers clicking now …
KU Game Day Traditions
Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
A Gregorian-style chant oft heard bellowing from deep within Memorial Stadium, the Rock Chalk Chant got its beginnings from a KU chemistry professor in 1886. In the original version, “Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU” was repeated three times. The “rahs” were later replaced by “Rock Chalk,” a flip-flopped version of the “chalk rock” (limestone) found on Mount Oread, the hill upon which KU’s campus sits.
Fun Fact: It’s the age-old question: what exactly is a Jayhawk? The beloved mascot’s roots go back more than 150 years and stem from a group of settlers in the Kansas Territory who opposed slavery and called themselves “Jayhawkers.” Legend has it that the Jayhawk is a hybrid of two birds — the blue jay, a noisy, quarrelsome bird known to rob other nests, and the sparrow hawk, a stealthy hunter. In its early years, KU faculty and students began calling themselves “Jayhawks,” and the name stuck.
Wave the Wheat
Sports fans have been doing “the wave” at stadiums across the country for years, but for KU fans, “the wave” has a unique Kansas flavor. A celebratory gesture and a sign of Kansas pride and solidarity, Jayhawk fans lift their arms over their heads and slowly wave them back and forth creating the illusion of a Kansas wheat field dancing in the prairie wind.
Where to go in Lawrence
After the game, be sure to head to Mass Street (short for Massachusetts) in downtown Lawrence. It’s a short walk from campus and home to every bar, restaurant and quirky little shop you could hope to find in a college town. Some of our favorite haunts include The Free State Brewing Co. (636 Massachusetts St.) and The Replay Lounge (946 Massachusetts St.).
Tailgating is permitted only in designated areas on KU’s campus, and tailgaters are asked to contain tailgating festivities to just in front of or just behind their individual parking spaces.
Many of the Jayhawk faithful choose to tailgate on Hospitality Hill (aka Campanile Hill), a large grassy hill that overlooks Memorial Stadium. Fans can reserve a tent there ahead of time by calling the Kansas Athletic office — (785) 864-6220 — or set up their own tent on the day of the game. Fans can also purchase tickets to Jayhawk Village, KU’s official pregame tailgate, also located on Campanile Hill.
One element you won’t want to miss (and likely won’t, due to its eye-catching façade) is the beloved “Kanbulance” named ResKU — the ultimate tailgate wagon, which is an old ambulance decked out in crimson and blue. The Kanbulance, owned by a handful of loyal KU fans, brings an impressive set-up to KU tailgating. On game day, Kanbulance tailgates often include as many as 200 people, and its owners host planning meetings to map out food themes for each and every home game.
Perhaps the most popular spread occurs on the last game of the season when the Kanbulance hosts a chili cook-off.
Rock Chalk Chili
• 2 pounds ground beef chuck
K-State Game Day Traditions
The “Wabash Cannonball” spirit song plays a vital part in K-State game day spirit. The song’s popularity at K-State dates back to December 1968 when K-State’s Nichols Gym burned down. The gym, which housed the equipment for K-State’s band, was destroyed, thus ruining most of the band’s instruments and sheet music. With a basketball game coming up three days later, the band scrambled to find instruments and sheet music. Band director Phil Hewett had sheet music at his home, including the “Wabash Cannonball.” Ever since, “Wabash Cannonball” has been an inspiring song for K-Staters and is characterized by dancing and rocking throughout the crowd come game day.
“Good for a Wildcat first down!”
In 1992, K-State’s football announcer began what would become a K-State tradition after the installation of the stadium’s new press box. After a Wildcat first down, the announcer would say, “Good for a Wildcat first down.”
Throughout the next couple of seasons, the announcer did this ritual alone. But that all changed at the beginning of the 1994 season when the crowd started to shout it with him.
Today, with the addition of the first down and touchdown arm motions, K-State’s announcer, Ivan Wilkinson, no longer even needs to finish the phrase, as the Wildcat fans finish it for him, “Good for another Wildcat …” and the crowd responds “FIRST DOWN!”
Though the ritual undoubtedly originated at K-State, this practice has spread across the country and is heard in college and NFL football stadiums.
Where to go in Manhattan
Located in the heart of the “Little Apple,” Aggieville is a one-of-a-kind shopping and dining destination. On Moro Street and the six surrounding bocks, K-State fans will find bars like O’Malley’s Alley (1210 Moro St.), The Salty Rim (1204 Moro St.) and Tubby’s Sports Bar (1127 Moro St.).
The area was established in 1898 when students at the Kansas State Agricultural College (now K-State) had to purchase textbooks downtown, which was inconvenient due to the fact that automobiles were nonexistent and the downtown area was located a far distance from campus. The college decided to build a student bookstore closer to campus, but it was shut down by the college’s Board of Regents. Soon after, a group of students bought the bookstore, which then spurred on to be a home to many student-oriented businesses.
With sprawling parking lots on both the east and west sides of the stadium festooned with rows and rows of cars, trucks, RVs and every other type of vehicle, K-State’s tailgating scene is more NFL-style as opposed to other college tailgates.
With everyone packed in so tightly there and in the reserved parking lots and the nearby satellite grass lots, the air is heavy with the smells of burgers, brats and barbecue as a sea of purple-clad fans toss the football around while mingling and ribbing the visiting team’s tailgaters.
Due to the large crowd and the seemingly endless sea of purple, many tailgaters bring flags and other insignia to mark their tailgate to make it easy for wanderers to find their way back to home base.
The bottom line? Get there early, set up camp and make some new friends in this relaxed atmosphere!
• 1 lb. ground pork sausage (1/2 mild, ½ spicy)
Mizzou Game Day Traditions
It may only last a couple of minutes, but Tiger fans hate to miss the Tiger Walk on game day — the moment when the football team arrives at the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex, walks across the Pedestrian Bridge over Providence Road, down the south tunnel and into the Tiger locker room. The tradition, which occurs two hours prior to kickoff, is a fan favorite and a source of Mizzou pride that spans generations.
Marching Mizzou, the performing marching band for the University of Missouri, was formed in 1885 with only 12 members and has grown into the largest student organization on campus. The leader of many famed Mizzou chants and cheers (including the favorite “M-I-Z,” “Z-O-U” echo cheer), Marching Mizzou’s claim to fame is “Big MO,” the world’s largest marching bass drum.
Marching Mizzou’s signature “Flip Tigers” is a staple of the pre-game show, as is the “Missouri Waltz” and the pre-game finale song, “Every True Son,” which is followed by the crowd chanting “Hooray! Hurrah! Mizzou! Mizzou! Hooray! Hurrah! Mizzou! Mizzou! Hooray! Hurrah — and a Bully for Ole Mizzou RAH! RAH! RAH! RAH! Mizzoooou-RAH! Mizzoooou-RAH! Mizzoooou-RAH! TIGERS!”
An age-old Mizzou tradition, Marching Mizzou is an integral part of game day and crowd involvement at Faurot field.
Where to go in Columbia?
If you don’t happen to snag a ticket to the game, don’t worry. Downtown Columbia is just on the north side of Mizzou’s campus and is a short walk from the stadium/tailgating areas.
In downtown, you’ll find several spots to catch the game including some of our favorites, Flat Branch Pub & Brewing (115 South 5th St.) and The Heidelberg (410 South 9th St.), which has been a Mizzou game day hangout since 1963. The eatery and bar burned in 2003 due to an electrical malfunction, but was rebuilt and remains a fan favorite to this day.
Mizzou’s campus is very parking- and tailgate-friendly, and tailgating is allowed in any parking lot or parking garage on campus. There is free parking at both Turner Avenue Garage and Conley Avenue Garage on campus. Other lots may require payment for parking, but will get you a bit closer to the stadium. Mizzou students often tailgate in an area called the Jungle, which is located on the north side of the stadium at the corner of Maryland Avenue and Rollins Street. Alcohol is allowed in this lot and is most definitely consumed, so if you are looking for a more family-friendly tailgate spot, you may want to consider using the parking lot across the street from the northeast corner of the stadium at the corner of Stadium Boulevard and Monk Drive. The cost for this lot is $15 per vehicle.
Other organized tailgate celebrations take place throughout campus on Mizzou game day. One way to take in some Mizzou traditions without the hassle of creating your own tailgate is the Mizzou Experience, located in Hearnes Fieldhouse. With dozens of caterers and performances by the Mizzou cheerleaders, the Golden Girls (the Mizzou dance team), Marching Mizzou and Truman the Tiger, doors open three hours prior to kick-off, and food and packages are available for groups of all types. To reserve a spot, call the marketing department at Mizzou — (573) 884-7238. New to Mizzou is Tiger Landing, a game day tailgate hosted by the Mizzou Alumni Association at the Reynolds Alumni Center and Carnahan Quadrangle. Free of admission charges and opening three hours prior to kick-off, Tiger Landing provides Mizzou food and beverage concessions including Tiger brats and Buck’s Tiger Stripe ice cream, cash bars, big screens, a Kid’s Zone and campus tours.
THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI
Fun Fact: The homecoming tradition at Mizzou was started in 1911, when the MU football coach and director of athletics, Chester Brewer, invited alumni to “come home” to Columbia for the annual football game against the University of Kansas.
Tiger Ice Cream Dessert
*Make this recipe ahead of time and keep cool in an
photos: Kansas Athletics, Mizzou Athletics & Kansas State Athletics