There is a purple hue taking over Fort Worth, and it’s coming from the campus of TCU.
Sleep-deprived TCU students, in all their purple, will be on display in front of ESPN’s cameras. The first five students to line up for the show arrived at 5 p.m. Friday. Four male roommates and one of their girlfriends wanted the best possible spots.
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“We knew we had to be here early to get a good spot and a good view,” said James Flowers, a sophomore from Richmond, Va.
Why not? It has been eight years since the show made its first and only other previous appearance on campus. Most of these students were in elementary school then.
“I can remember being in the second grade waking up on a Saturday morning watching college football and GameDay,” said Los Angeles sophomore Mitchell Lefevre.
Hundreds of TCU students began setting up tents and unrolling sleeping bags by 8 p.m. on one end of the commons. Students at the other end were congregating in front of another stage for an X Ambassadors concert. It was a busy night of logistics and security for TCU and Fort Worth police. Student IDs were thoroughly checked, bags were scanned, and students lining up for GameDay were stamped on the hand with their place in line.
TCU assistant director of student activities Brad Thompson remembers the 2009 GameDay well.
“It’s definitely bigger [this year] with the addition of the concert. A much bigger production. We have more security with what happened in Vegas. We’re trying to be mindful, but also let our students have a great time and enjoy GameDay.”
Houston sophomore John Merkle, one of the four dorm roommates first in line, said they didn’t bring sleeping bags because they plan on staying up all night.
“We’ll sleep 24 hours from now, maybe,” he said. His girlfriend, freshman Caroline Culver, also from Houston, said she watched GameDay with her dad and brother.
If they haven’t dozed off, TCU is bringing out a large screen and showing “Jurassic World” at 1 a.m. and then Disney’s “Moana” at 3:30 a.m. TCU is buying the campers pizza and serving two rounds of donuts, once at 3:30 and again at 6:30 when Chancellor Victor Boschini and athletic director Chris Del Conte will help pass them out.
Both were here when GameDay came to campus in 2009.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Del Conte, who had arrived on the job from Rice only a month earlier. “For us to get it back just speaks volumes to what Gary [Patterson] has built. It’s a great way to show off our university, our football program and our conference. Everything about it is pretty awesome.”
Flowers and another roommate Ben Auten of Charleston, S.C., are both dreading Monday morning tests.
“Two tests and a quiz on Monday, so my Sunday is going to be rough,” Auten said.
But the memories they’re making Friday night and Saturday morning will be worth it.
“I plan to go get the signs and hopefully catch some of the Nationals-Cubs game as well,” Flowers said. “It’s a big sports weekend and huge for TCU.”