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Road to Game Day: Cody Invites Us Over

Words by Keith Arnold, who ↵is touring the country with his brother Phil as they invade a different ↵college campus each Saturday during the football season. They’ll be reporting back in this space with their various adventures. You can also keep tabs on their vagabonding over at RoadtoGameDay.com. This week they're in Boulder for the OK State-Colorado game.
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↵There might not be a more scenic stadium than Folsom Field, or a college town that looks better on a postcard. After having a burger and beer at the legendary bar The Sink that once had Robert Redford mopping the floors, the beautiful November day with 65 degree weather made Phil wonder aloud why he never thought about checking out Colorado for college (two words: tuition reciprocity). Writing this column at over 10,000 feet, we spent the night and this morning in the mountains before getting back for a night on the town tonight, followed by the big game with Oklahoma State on Saturday. It is a well-deserved getaway for Road to Game Day, as yesterday was a milestone for us. Somebody actually returned our calls. ↵

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↵You remember that first day? Whether it’s high school, college, or your first job, it’s just always really awkward. You have that horrible fake smile plastered on, you pick out some awful outfit that’s uncomfortable, spend a few too many minutes making sure your hair doesn’t look too combed or too messy, and always immediately forget people’s first names. Yesterday was one of those days. ↵

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↵It’s tough calling someone you don’t know. On a trip like this, it’s becoming an alarming regularity. And when that person you’re calling is a 20-year-old starting QB who has agreed to let you come over to his house while he’s between class and team meetings, and talk to you about “college football stuff,” it feels an awful lot like one of those awkward first days. ↵

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↵Coming off the most challenging game of his college career, a game that had his father (and head coach) choosing to play a true freshman instead of him, Cody Hawkins got the call after the Buffalo offense stalled and spotted Iowa State a 10-0 halftime lead, before rallying the team with 229 yards and 4 TD passes to pull off a much needed comeback victory against Iowa State. ↵

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↵What strikes you most about a kid like Cody is just how good a guy he is. He lives in a normal college house, covered equally with Colorado Buffaloes banners and posters of hot girls. His kitchen looks like a dirty bomb exploded even before he prepared his tuna salad sandwich. And he’s the kind of guy where people just stop by his place to use the microwave, borrow something random, or just hang out. Part of me wanted to be a real journalist, and ask the kind of questions that Erin Andrews or Chris Fowler might ask. But once we got through those awkward hellos and a few scripted questions, you learn that a guy like Cody is just another college kid who loves college football. No different than a lot of us are. ↵

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↵It was an hour later before any of us realized Cody had to go to a meeting. Time flies when you’re talking about football, exchanging opinions on the best QBs in the Big 12, or what it’s like to get asked out for a drink by Erin Andrews. (Unfortunately his experience, not ours … yet.) ↵

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↵You can read our interview here, but guys like Cody Hawkins are one of the reasons that college football is great. Here’s a kid who grows up around the game, around his dad’s college football programs, and takes the reins of the Colorado offense the very first game after his redshirt year. When his team loses six out of its eight best linemen to either season ending injury or academic ineligibility, not to mention their top two running backs, the offense predictably struggles. And when that happens, the QB job is never safe. Standing on the sidelines as a backup for the first game of his life, and not taking a single rep with the first team on Thursday or Friday, he could’ve sulked. But instead he comes off the bench at halftime and plays the best half of football in his life. ↵

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↵The good part of being “pretend media” is that we don’t have to pretend that we aren’t rooting for teams. I’m cheering for Cody Hawkins on Saturday, and if the Buffs can figure out a way to beat the Cowboys, we’ll be on the field cheering with him. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.