28 tailgates later


Welcome to Iowa City; I hope the next four (my parents wouldn’t let me have more than four) years are everything you ever hoped and dreamed they’d be.

And if you do it right, tailgating will be one of the biggest reasons for that enjoyment. Now, between working for the Associated Press and The Daily Iowan, I’ve been up in the Kinnick Stadium press box for virtually every Iowa home game since my freshman year. But drawing from limited personal experience and help (a fair amount of which comes via Snapchat stories I remember viewing while high above the Kinnick turf) from friends, hopefully, this will give you a basis of what to expect. 

If your dorm is anything like the first floor of Rienow was in the fall of 2012, a few of your floormates will be sure to do their best to get the tailgating festivities going as early as possible, which is a good thing. As is typical, the alarm (or air horn if your roommates are as excited as my girlfriends usually are) will go off around 6 a.m. for an 11 a.m. kickoff or 8:30 for a 2:30 p.m. kick. For the two night games this year, I invite you to pick your own poison. 

Once you’re up and ready to go, the experiences can differ. Some people live and die with the tailgates that fraternities host. Those may or may not involve higher levels of college-kid activities than other types of tailgates. 

Use your imagination — and solo cups. Always use solo cups.

Personally, my parents enjoy making the three-hour drive from Chicagoland as often as possible to act as if they’re in college again. If your parents do this, be sure to take full advantage of their food and drink (use solo cups). Your roommates and friends will appreciate it, too.

Because tailgates not involving parents are usually light in the food department, be sure to grab a bite on the way to Kinnick or to the downtown bars (don’t watch the game in a small, cramped dorm room). There are plenty of options around Kinnick, and you have to try a “Big Ass Turkey Leg” at least once before you graduate.

If you choose to go the bar route, the kitchen will likely be slammed, but if you do manage to get a platter of wings, you will become everyone’s new best friend (Sorry, Martha). If you do go to Kinnick, you’ll pay too much for food and will still be hungry afterwards. That’s just the way it is.

Once the game is over, a nap is usually in play. Not bedtime, a nap. You may be exhausted the next day, but for no reason should you stay in on Saturday night because you tailgated that morning. Trust me, getting a full day’s experience is well worth it.

If it takes you four years to get a degree, there will be 28 football Saturdays during your time as a student. Yes, school is important, and you’ll have to sacrifice 28 days of studying (you’re crying, I know). But once you look back after four years, I promise you won’t regret it one bit.

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