We all know how much time and effort coaches and players put into each battle. They practice. They lift. They study film. And they look for every possible advantage to win the game.

This season, we’re celebrating our love for college football by taking you behind the scenes on 3 campuses where game day means much more than the action between the white lines. For this series, we looked beyond the gridiron heroes to see how other stars on campus get ready for kickoff. This is “How I Prep for Game Day.”

Part 1: University of Alabama

How to Tailgate Like the Tide

By Brian Ahmed, Owner of Full Moon Bar-B-Que Tuscaloosa

If you’ve ever been to Bryant Denny Stadium at The University of Alabama, you know that the tailgate is almost as important as the game itself.

And, if you ask us, no Tuscaloosa tailgate is complete without barbecue. At Alabama’s own Full Moon Bar-B-Que, it’s our job to feed the fans. That’s why we spend over 24 hours preparing for each game day.

We know that sounds like a long time, but it’s the key ingredient to our winning recipe.  We use every minute to craft our mouth-watering meats and home-cooked trimmings like baked beans, collard greens, and our famous slaw. And if we can help bring Tide fans a smile before a big game, well, we’ve done our job.

Is it just us, or is your mouth watering, too? The good news is you don’t have to visit us to satisfy your appetite. You can do it yourself. Next time you decide to fire up the BBQ, remember these 5 Ps:

  • Passion - Cook with your feelings. Care about what you’re doing and the ingredients you’re using. You can always taste the TLC put into the dish.
  • Prep - Preparation is the key to success. Know what you need and know how you’re going to do it. Gather your ingredients and know how to prepare them. Make sure you have all of the needed tools to make the perfect meal.
  • Personality - If it ain’t broke, don't fix it. If you have your own way of doing things keep doing it, but don't be scared to spice it up from time to time. Adding different spices and flavors could add a new dimension to your food.
  • Plan - Find and make time. Timing is key. Know how long it takes to prepare the ingredients, cook the dish, then let it rest. Use time management to prepare your sides, ensuring everything hits the table at the same time. Study the time it takes to make your food just right.
  • Pride - Just do it. Take pride in your food. You’re putting your time and effort into the meal you’re cooking. Don’t take short cuts. Fully follow each step in the process. Don’t hold back, try new things and go for it. You'll never know how good something tastes until you try. Finally, enjoy the meal you cooked. After all, that’s the end goal!

Roll Tide!

Part 2: University of Texas

No Bull: Bevo Steers Fans in the Longhorn Direction

By Bevo XV

Hey y’all, I’m BEVO XV, official mascot of the University of Texas. I charged onto the scene in 2016, but the BEVO tradition is more than a century old. In fact, UT introduced the very first BEVO in 1916.

I’m a longhorn steer – not a bull – and I live on a rolling ranch on the Texas countryside. It’s a great place, but I love to spend as much time as I can on the UT campus in Austin.

Like any VIP, I have my own “handlers.” Members of an honorary student organization called the Silver Spurs care for me and get me to and from the stadium safely on game days and everywhere else I need to go. What can I say, I’m in high demand. And I’m always up for a selfie. Just don’t get too close to the horns.  

Chances are, you’ve seen me in my pen or roaming the sidelines at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. But I’m more than a football fan. Here are some things you might not know about me and the 14 BEVOs who came before me:

  • No one’s 100% sure, but the name BEVO is likely a play on the word “beeve,” which is slang for steer. 
  • The first BEVO cost $124, but I like to think I’m priceless.
  • All right, all right, all right … I’ve been known to hang out with a few celebrities.
  • I’m immortalized in the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.  
  • BEVO XIII and BEVO XIV attended President George W. Bush’s inaugurations in 2001 and 2005, respectively. Maybe I can go in 2021.
  • In 1968, BEVO VIII delayed a game because he laid down in the end zone and wouldn’t get up. The Longhorns won the game and the other coach blamed the loss on BEVO. I would never do such a thing (hooves crossed).

Is my trailer ready? I’ve gotta run. Hook ‘Em Horns! 

Part 3: The Ohio State University

Dotting I’s and Tapping T’s

OSU Band Marches on with Tradition

By Remy Gilliland

Since I first started playing trumpet in grade school, I knew I wanted to be in the marching band, but not just any band. I wanted to be in “The Best Damn Band in the Land,” The Ohio State University Marching Band.

I’ve always been a Buckeye. I grew up in Ohio – in Akron the first part of my life and in Dublin, near Columbus, for my teenage years. Every time I got the chance, I’d go to Ohio State to experience game day in and around Ohio Stadium, the Horseshoe. And every time, a big part of the experience was seeing the band march onto the field.

Now, I’m part of that experience. I’m a senior and head squad leader for T Row. What’s that mean? Our band has 16 rows of marching musicians, with 5 rows featuring the trumpet. I lead one of those rows – T Row.

The Ohio State band is known for coming up with creative, complex and incredibly compelling marching formations to accompany our music. It takes a lot of practice. I might have to know 40 different sets for the show and everyone else has 40 different sets they need to learn, too. It all works together to form the big picture. Perhaps you’ve seen one of our viral videos? We’ve morphed into everything from dinosaurs to dancers and submarines to singers. Our halftime show changes every week throughout the football season.

Some things, however, never change. Our band has many time-honored game day traditions. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Oval Walk. The center of Ohio State’s campus is called the Oval. Several paths crisscross the Oval with one wide path down the middle. About 7 hours before each game, the members of T Row gather at the east end of that wide path. After a moment of reflection, we walk the length of the Oval singing all 3 verses of our alma mater, Carmen Ohio. Each of us taps every “T” (for T Row, of course) on a statue located at the end of the path. It’s one of my favorite traditions because not many people know about it.
  • Skull Session. The day of the game, we hold a pep rally for fans inside St. John Arena, located just north of Ohio Stadium. It’s called the Skull Session because the tradition started as a practice to remind us we all need to think with our heads. After we’re done, we march to the stadium to prepare for our entrance.
  • I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State. As we get ready to march through the tunnel before each game, we sing “I Wanna Go Back to Ohio State” while we’re waiting on the ramp. Fans coming into the stadium stop and watch us. It gets everyone pumped up. It’s a fun song that all Buckeyes know well.
  • Script Ohio. Right before each game starts, we march in a continuous line until we finish spelling out “Ohio” on the field. The fans rise to their feet and clap along as we perform. Then, they cheer wildly when the drum major leads one of our sousaphone players out to dot the “i.” It’s one of the best traditions in all of college football.

Nothing beats the feeling of performing for 100,000+ people, and getting them hyped for a big game. Go Bucks!

Click here to learn more about The Ohio State University Marching Band’s scholarship fund.

Remy Gilliland is a senior at The Ohio State University majoring in air transportation. He plays the trumpet and is the T Row squad leader for The Ohio State University Marching Band.