Game Day, the Arizona Way

Feb. 6, 2012

Basketball, football, softball, you name it. UA students take very seriously the opportunity to cheer their teams on to victory. And with a nationally televised “Whiteout” game and ESPN’s College GameDay rolling into Tucson… let’s just say it’s the perfect opportunity for UA fans to indulge their wildest impulses. We present to you a running diary of the pre-game madness.

6:00 a.m. – Coming to you bright and early from McKale Center, my teeth are chattering. Not because it’s chilly but because LMFAO is blasting from 6-foot high speakers.

6:12 a.m. – The TV production crew has provided fans the necessary tools for sign making. The sign station is packed with Wildcat fans eager to show off their school pride. Fans call out their favorite players: "I don't want a piece, I want the Chol thing," "Will you marry me, Nick Johnson?" and countless acrostics highlighting the letters E, S, P and N.

6:15 a.m. – Even though this is a basketball game, UA football players are getting love from the sign makers too. Wildcat fan Corey Patrick decks out a sign reading "Yo Soy Fiesta" a reference to UA Wildcat and terror of the NFL, Rob Gronkowski. “He is a beast. He’s making us Wildcats proud.”

6:40 a.m. – There’s something about college that makes the smell of hotdogs and popcorn seem normal when the sun still isn’t up. The four exceedingly polite students manning the snack bar confirm that breakfast burritos have actually been the big seller this morning but quickly note that they’ve sold numerous chicken baskets as well. College.

6:53 a.m. – People usually picture insane sports fans as the rainbow-wigged, face painting variety. They have not met Tom Wicker and Leo Oppenheimer. On top of the painted faces and multi-color wigs, these two carry an oversized sign reading “Sean Miller for President” and, because they’re business majors, they also sell matching t-shirts. So, why should Miller make a presidential bid? “Because of what he’s done with this basketball program,” says Wicker. “And he can dribble three basketballs at once, so what’s not to like?” Your move, America.

7:30 a.m. – Now we’re cooking with gas. The first of several live "bumps" to the national TV audience gets the crowd screaming.

7:45 a.m. – Former coach Digger Phelps of ESPN, takes the floor and warms up the crowd. Dude must have been great with locker room speeches: "Let those east of the Mississippi know, Arizona plays basketball!” Almost on cue, the Wildcat faithful belt out a stirring version of “Bear Down, Arizona.” It’s a goose bump moment for any UA fan and the crowd is officially crazy now.

8:27 a.m. – The most creative cheer of the morning goes to: We-Want-Ta-Cos! (clap-clap-clapclapclap).

9:12 a.m. – A cart filled with local delicacy Sonoran Hotdogs – bacon-wrapped hotdogs with all the fixings – is rolled on the floor for the East Coast television crew to sample. If the 72-degree days didn’t already do it, this is some serious confirmation that they’re a long way from Connecticut.

9:25 a.m. – As if the fans couldn’t be any wilder, the basketball team takes the court in special white warm up tops marking the day.

9:59 a.m. – The jubilant mood has turned and you can cut the tension on the floor with a knife. One lucky UA student has 18 seconds to make a half-court shot for $18,000.

10:00 a.m. – Aaaaaand he misses. But there’s still a big game later and we haven’t had breakfast yet. Now where did those hotdogs go…