We drove from Memphis through Oxford and continued our search for the Hayward farm. Six guys excited for the weekend, all using Google Maps on their iPhone. Each shouting directions and advice. Chaos in a car. But once we turned down the dirt road, I sensed an excitement. A calm. We found our home base and the weekend was about to begin. A weekend that started with smoked ribs (on the grill since before my flight left from New York) and an ice chest full of beer. Twenty-one in total showed up last year and we crashed Ole Miss.
My friend attempted to recruit me years ago. I never listened, well, until last year. I attended the trip to the Grove and essentially crashed the campus. The planning, the mayhem, the experience – true college football. Even Eli Manning attended the game (the Giants had an off week).
And at the time, I knew I just found a new annual tradition. In 2010, I signed up for my sophomore season.
The voting occurs in June and all college games are possible. The voting process gives one vote to every person wanting to attend and an extra vote for each year you attended the event. So this season I had two votes. Next year I’ll have three.
When the election results were tallied, Columbia topped the list. We were to crash the University of South Carolina. And we did just that on October 9th. They played Alabama.
Yes, we watched the Gamecocks roll the tide and defeat the unbeaten number #1 Alabama (at the time). Arguably, the best win in the school history. An incredible atmosphere, but the weekend is more than a game. Well, it’s more than college football.
It all starts Friday night in town. This year, thirty-five guys (record attendance) either reacquainted with old friends or made new ones. In the process everyone made many memories. And for some, what happens on college campuses – well, it stays on college campuses.
For me, the party really started when we hijacked a musician’s stage, his instruments, and sang the songs we wanted to hear (the ones we knew). With 35 guys, we are bound to have musicians. Afterwards, some of us left the “alumni filled” Vista area of Columbia and headed to Five Points, the University bar scene. I joined them.
There, we crashers blended in the best we could. We wanted to truly see, feel, and enjoy the college scene, and they do it well in Columbia – from what I remember. Really well. Plus, with college prices on pictures of beer, that’s just part of the formula for trouble. Fuel to the fire.
All hungover the next morning, sharing stories, and very thankful for the 3:30pm start, we waited for transportation. With the city quiet, we sat in the downtown Marriott concerned. Taxi drivers were either not up or not coming? Forty-minutes passed. Long minutes. Then one taxi arrived and I squeezed in. Although a loving group, sometimes it’s every man for himself.
That ride, led us down dirt paths as a shortcut to avoid traffic. We crossed train tracks and wondered if we were suddenly on the wrong side? Columbia is a capital city and where were we going was only two miles away? I still wonder about the route we took that morning. But a smile from the driver made us trust the moment. It was an adventure, part of the reason why we all come.
We arrived and that, “we are so late” feeling disappeared with the first beer. Almost five hours existed prior to kickoff.
The tailgate consisted of playing thirty fans on thirty fans games of flip cup, showcasing talent on a portable dance floor, and some serious dice rolling where lady gamecock fans could win campus crasher memorabilia. The time flew. Four plus hours of SEC tailgating heaven. Next up, the game.
All South Carolina. Domination. The Gamecocks defeated the #1 Alabama. A great college atmosphere.
We all returned energized for the night with the home team victory. The crashers have few rules I noticed, but one is to root for the home team because it sets up a better evening.
We continued to tailgate till the end when we were essentially kicked out of the lot by it’s owners. Our next stop didn’t last long either. We stopped by a local house party and were asked to leave when one crasher reached in the fridge for a beer. Not proper etiquette. At college, he might as well have attempted to steal gold.
From there we seemed to split up in a frenzy, but wherever you went the people, fans, friends and even foes (Alabama fans) seemed to all appreciate the mission of the campus crasher. Our T-Shirts connected us and actually became desirable artifacts. Lady fans of the Carolina Gamecocks would ask, “I want your T-shirt,” and well, many gave them up. For what? Well, that remains as secret as the Freemason ceremony.
In summary, a fantastic second installment and although we left someone behind at the hotel who needed a ride to Charlotte, North Carolina, no one was “technically” arrested. So in all it was a good year.
What four guys from Boston College started ten years ago, has created true legends of the fall. Thank you to the founding fathers and the first followers.
After this past year, with sponsorships and ESPN coverage very likely in the near future, I know all crashers plan to keep to the core mission – have a blast and crash a campus. It’s genius.
Stay adventurous, Craig