THE CHILLS AND THE THRILLS
Tom Greene’s “Gameday” experience
Ever since I left Gameday, I’ve wanted to go back. When I was amongst the Crazies at Gameday, I wanted to get out. But in the end, it was all worth it. Let me describe the details.
After I got out of work on Friday, I had to make a 3 hour drive from home to the campus of Western Michigan in Kalamazoo. Traffic wasn’t terrible, but the Weather got to be, almost immediately after I passed the exit to 127 (for non-Michiganders, 127 literally cuts the Lower Peninsula in Half from Lansing to Houghton Lake) onto the West Side of the state.
It rained Hard for a good 20 minutes on the freeway. Thankfully, I made it through, but it was a sign of things to come.
After I arrived in Kalamazoo, I went to Steak N’ Shake, and the place was packed. Many WMU Shirts, and billboards that said, “WESTERN MICHIGAN, GET READY FOR GAMEDAY!”, “ZACH TERRELL AND COREY DAVIS, HEISMAN HOPEFULS” and of course, PJ Fleck’s mantra that has resonated throughout WMU, “ROW THE BOAT!” Flooded the streets of Kalamazoo as Gameday was fast approaching.
I finally went to sleep at Midnight, and the night went by pretty fast. After about 4 hours of solid sleep, I woke up at 5AM, getting ready to head out to Sangren Hall, where the set of Gameday was.
I got there at 5:30, and the line was already packed. Many people and signs were already in line, and it was close to freezing outside and it had started to sleet. I was wearing 3 layers and a Jacket, and I probably should’ve worn more.
At around 7, people started to bail from the line and get behind “The Pit”, where all the Crazies get into for the Pregame Show. A lot of people held hilarious signs, and the funniest are ones I probably shouldn’t write on here, but two I can write here that were creative are, “WE WANT BAMA” and “WE WANT THE BROWNS”. PM/DM Me if you want to know some of the crazier once I had seen.
At 8, my friend Jordan Bennett (@DaOriginalJBone) called me and told me he was in the pit. So, I got back in line and, to my amazement, I was in The Pit at 8:20 AM, 40 minutes before the show was about to start.
Before you get into the pit, the Kalamazoo PD Had searched me with a wand and asked if I had any Alcohol on me, to which I said No and was cleared. In this article, I’d like to Graciously thank them for the job that they did to keep things safe at Gameday. Believe me, it’s Crazy out there.
After that, an ESPN Security man checked my signs. I had 3 signs, I will explain what happened to them in here as well. They said,
“MY 3 COLLEGE GAMEDAY WISHES:
- TO MEET/GET A PIC WITH SAM PONDER!
- FOR THE BEAR TO FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER (@TOMTV23)
- TO SHAKE HANDS WITH THE MAN: LEE CORSO! #GAMEDAYSIGNS”
SEND ME BEER/GAS $$
I MADE IT ON COLLEGE GAMEDAY!
He Chuckled at the Gameday Wishes and Jenny Taft sign (In that sign, I had a picture of Jenny with Stuart Holden, to which I photoshopped my face for Holden’s), but he took away the Venmo Sign. At Gameday, if you want to get into the Pit, you can’t have any signs that promote yourself. I will say, I was trying to get people to donate into my Venmo Account to get extra $$, but I totally understand that. You can donate if you want, lol.
It actually turned out to be a good thing that the Venmo sign was taken away. Throughout Gameday, it kept snowing and blowing. As the show started, I could tell my signs were starting to tear apart. What it did was I had both signs on 2 sides, that way I was only holding 1 piece of poster board during the event, instead of 3, which I came in with.
At 9:30, Sam Ponder interviewed WMU Coach PJ Fleck. I saw where that stage was and moved to the other side of the Pit. At that time and when she and David Pollack did the, “#YouHadOneJob” segment, my signs got on TV, all be it a blur. I stood by a guy who had a blow-up of Tom Rinaldi’s head. I couldn’t believe I got on TV!
By 11:30, I had already stood in the pit for 3 hours, and they were about to do a segment outside the pit that featured the signs of the week. I decided to abandon the pit and see them. At this point, I was freezing. Wind chill was about 20 degrees or less.
Believe it or not, I was actually within comfortable speaking distance of Sam Ponder. I almost said, “Sam, could we get a selfie, Quick?” But she was already trying to run out of the madness that was Gameday, and she was off to Morgantown for the Featured Saturday Night Game. (So, if you’re actually looking to meet the people that host Gameday on Saturday, Forget about it! Too many people there!)
After that, I went to the right side of the pit and watched Corso make his Gameday selection (which obviously was Western) and I was off to Two Fellas Grill to get their Bronco Wrap (which was excellent, By the way), and I went to Jordan’s apartment to warm up before the game.
As for the game, I only stayed for the first half. Western was up 14-0 and won 38-0. Waldo Stadium is a cool experience, and it was freezing the whole time. After 8 hours of standing/sitting in the cold, I figured I’d had enough and went home.
There was snow from Kalamazoo to Lansing on the way home, then it picked back up from Flint to Bay City and home. Weather dominated the trip.
Was it worth it? YES. Did I have fun? YES. And would I do it again if it were in Michigan again? YES.