We've reached that dreaded point in the summer where we're close enough to football that we've already spent enough time discussing the biggest questions. But unless you're responsible for 6-7 posts every day about the Big 12 conference, it's still far enough away that it's too early to go absurdly in-depth or start making stupid predictions (Iowa State over K-State? Really?).
There's really only just about one thing this part of the summer is for, other than beginning your NCAA '13 dynasty, of course. That would be planning road trips.
K-State has five of them this year, and although two of them are to Ames and Waco, there are also some new and attractive options. I've never been to any of these campuses besides OU, and Ft. Worth is really the only other city I've ever been in, just because I assume I drove through part of it at some point during my various trips to Dallas.
For that reason, my brief overview of road trip ideas for OU, ISU, WVU, TCU and Baylor are going to be nowhere near complete, and I encourage you to add your suggestions in the comments. Only with your help can we make this the go-to post for anyone looking to travel to see the ‘Cats this season.
And yes, I am stealing liberally from emails to David Ubben in his Big 12 Guide series.
Norman, Okla. (Sept. 22)
This is the only campus on which I've spent a significant amount of time, since I've been to quite a few basketball games at the Lloyd Noble Center. No football games yet, and honestly I haven't spent a lot of time getting to know the area, which never impressed me that much.
Obviously, a school with tradition like Oklahoma is going to have a hell of a tailgating scene, so you're going to want to get there early to hang out on Lindsey/Jenkins streets. As far as food and drink goes, it looks like you can find everything you need at Campus Corner north of the stadium, including an ice cream place called the Sooner Swirl, which could be nice in September.
I do remember going to a Mexican place called Ted's that is a little ways away from OU on Interstate Drive. It was delicious and featured free soapapillas for dessert, which is always a good thing.
As far as lodging, you're not going to have much luck if you want to find a place that you can walk/stumble to from campus, which is unfortunate. All the chain hotels are to the East, near the Interstate. If you want to spend the whole weekend on this trip, I'd highly recommend planning to go into Oklahoma City.
Ames, Ia. (Oct. 13)
I've done a pretty good job avoiding all stops in Iowa, though I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to check out the Field of Dreams at some point. Sadly, that's a little under three hours away from ISU. Ideally, you can go watch a decent football game in Ames and then get out.
I'd probably recommend meeting up with the entertaining folks at WRNL if you can and letting them show you the ropes, but if you can't apparently Hickory Park is the signature BBQ place and the tailgating is pretty serious. Presumably that's because there's nothing else to do in Ames, which is not to say it wouldn't be a good time.
For the youngsters willing to mix with the college crowd, check out Campustown on Welch Street, or for a different crowd head to Main St. On the plus side, there are quite a few hotels here within a mile and a half of Jack Trice Stadium.
Morgantown, W.V. (Oct. 20)
This is the one game that there's a fairly decent possibility I'll be attending, so feel to shoot me an email now or, better yet, as it gets closer if you're making the trip. It's also a new destination in West Virginia, which I've never been further into than Huntington.
Lots of hotels close by here, including some fancy ones, so that's cool. I'd like to get there early and burn a couch or two, though I'm not sure where that happens.
High Street is the main place to check out for bars and you'll surely find some good food around there, too, if tailgate fare isn't your thing. The Personal Rapid Transit sounds quite interesting and worth checking out.
Ft. Worth, Tex. (Nov. 10)
If you make this trip, you should probably check out the Mexican fare. ESPN readers say the best places are El Paseo, Dos Gringos, and Joe T Garcia's.
Apparently there's a place called Billy Bob's Texas a little ways from the stadium that is known as "The World's Largest Honky Tonk" with more than 30 bars, real bullriding and 100,000 square feet of entertainment. I'll let you form your own opinions based on that.
Obviously this is a bigger town with Dallas as a neighbor, so your options are going to be a lot better than in, say, Ames or Waco. They've even got a legit zoo!
Waco, Tex. (Nov. 17)
I'm pretty sure we're saving the worst trip for last, and I can't imagine Baylor is going to have a great tailgating scene in mid-November, when they've realized how hopeless their team is without RGIII. I might be wrong, but I'm certainly not going to be there to find out.
There are a few hotels within a mile, and I guess the campus is pretty cool It is a private school, so I suppose I could believe that.
Of course the Dr. Pepper Museum is in Waco, so at least they've got that going for them. I really like the idea of parking at a place called Vitek's Barbeque and eating there or across the street at George's Bar and Grill before and/or after the game, then taking the shuttle over to Floyd Casey Stadium.