Passionate (and thirsty) Hawkeye fans invade College Park
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Nobody was happier when Maryland join the Big Ten Conference than Kevin Meredith.
It meant Meredith's beloved Iowa Hawkeyes would make occasional visits to the Washington, D.C. area, where he now lives — starting with Saturday's game against the Terrapins.
Meredith, president of the Capital Area Iowa Club, spoke for many transplanted Big Ten fan bases in the diverse D.C. area that were thrilled to see Maryland and Rutgers become the league's 13th and 14th members.
"We can actually bring our schools out here," Meredith said, "and show how the East Coast can tailgate like the Midwest."
Meredith, an Iowa alum and 1997 graduate of Newton High School, began planning for the Hawkeyes' first trip to College Park in November.
It paid off when more than 1,000 Hawkeye fans joined him in Lot CC1 on the Maryland campus.
"This is a midseason bowl game for us," he said. "We've had tours. We had a happy hour (Friday) night that the bar was not ready for.
"We got them done in an hour and a half (drink-wise), what they thought would last all night."
When gameday rolled around, pockets around Byrd Stadium were decked out in black and gold.
"We're trying to make it potluck, open grill, ice for everyone," Meredith said. "Just because you're not in Iowa, doesn't mean you (can't) be an Iowan."
Meredith, who works for Microsoft, not only shows his state pride, he's also trying to influence the sporting culture.
"They are unprepared," he said of Terrapin fans. "They don't understand what the Big Ten is. They're old ACC.
"They're used to dressing up, showing up at 10 o'clock for a noon game. Everyone here asked me, 'When do the lots open?' I'm telling them 7 (a.m.) and they'll be there at 6:30."