Monday, February 2, 2015

It's Over When it's Over - Season recap

Congratulations to The Ohio State and North Dakota State for winning their respective National Championships. I think it is safe to say that the playoff format was mostly a success. Just think, Ohio State and Oregon would not have even been in the BCS Championship game under the old format. My solution to improve upon this good start is an eight team playoff format. Here is how it would work: The Champions from each of the Power Five Conferences get an automatic bid. The highest ranked non Power Five team that won its Conference Championship gets an invite. The two highest ranked non-conference champions get a ticket to the ball too. I think all the BS-BCS arguments about loss of revenue were about as compelling as Government run Health Care. The National Championship game alone was the highest rated College football game ever. Just think, if we had a quarterfinal round during the Christmas Holiday, then Santa would have answered my wishes. As far as the Division 1 AA Championship, North Dakota State won an unprecedented fourth straight title. This was through a true playoff system year after year. Something the big boys should take note of.
Bison Bobby B and Bride at D1AA Natty Ship
Tailgate wrap up: 2014 by all accounts was a quality rich journey for the Tailgate. We began the tradition of mailing one of the DFT banners to members of the DFT Nation attending venues where ESPN College Gameday was broadcasting. Additionally, the other banner made an appearance at most of the Tailgates I attended. We will do this again next year.  There were seven road weekends in particular that allowed me to soak in the full atmosphere along with a few suds of each host school. In all, I attended a modest 14 games, including 7 new Division 1 and 1 Division III stadiums. Along the road we rented cabins, stayed in stranger’s homes, hotels and friends’ cribs. Sampled many new foods, libations and traditions. Made multiple new friends which is what makes this obsession of mine so damn cool. Here is a recap:

1.       Michigan State at Oregon – Nephew Nate and Brother Brian.

2.       Army at Stanford –Rabagos, Drubaca and Stanky Reinke

3.       Illinois at Nebraska – Moochgating with Byom, Badger Gary, Walsh and Dru,

4.       Washington State at Stanford – Coug gating with The Heins Family and friends

5.       Washington at Cal – Snobgating with Kenny King and Downtown Gilbert Brown

6.       Kansas State at Oklahoma – Daughter Erin, Uncle Buck, Mrs. Tailgate and extended family at the  Mullica Soiree

7.       Miami at Virginia Tech – Crashing the Holiday Inn Tailgate with Big T Kernan

8.       Alabama at Tennessee – Tennessee Tony’s Cabin in the Smokey Mountains along with Maryland Mike McCabe, Alabama Al and the Hockaday tailgate party.

9.       USC at Wazoo – Weekend in the rain with the Crazy Marine Corp Major at Bonnie’s House.

10.   Notre Dame at Arizona State – Ice Cream Man Porter, Pauley Walnuts, the Crazy Major, Shannon and the Kevin O’Connor Sun Devil Tailgate party.

11.   Randolph Macon at Hampden Sydney - Cabin in the woods with the Kernan/Warner family.

12.   Boston College at Florida State – The Eagle Tailgaters and Floppy Hayden.

13.   Oregon vs Arizona (PAC 12 Championship) – The Dons of Danville and newcomer Kevin Duncan.

14.   Maryland- Stanford (Foster Farms Bowl) – Winsted and the Old Marine doing the Instagate.

This was nowhere near my record of 20 games in 2013 but was rich with the quality of experience across the Board.

Highlights on tap for 2015:

Stanford at Northwestern

Boise at BYU

Rutgers at Penn State

Alabama at Georgia

Frostburg State Homecoming

Utah at Arizona

Harvard at Yale

Notre Dame at Stanford

Army Navy

Sacramento State Home Game

Bieber Champion 2014 - Hard to top Famous Jameis who has been a constant source of entertainment for the Tailgate. Jameis, we are gonna miss you buddy. I predict in five years’ time, you will be hanging out with Jamarcus Russell getting your purple drank on.

And so my narcissistic, self-promoting 2014 journey has come to an end. Eric Church sums up best in this short video:

Happy Tailgating!


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Bowl Wrap Up

Brother Brian Tailgate and his crew at the NGC Military Bowl.
Jameis was able to beat the rape rap but not able to outrun the Ducks in the Rose Bowl. Big redemption for the Big Ten and we also witnessed the Big 5 of the mighty SEC West all go down in flames along with Paul Finebaum and David Pollack’s incorrect opinions of college football. My take is that there is conference parity. I do not believe any one conference is better than any other. ESPN clearly does not agree with DFT. New Year’s Day may have been the best day of Bowl games in my lifetime. Urban Legend, Barry Alvarez and Mark Dantonio take down power schools from the SEC and Big 12.  New Year’s Eve had Boise knocking off UoA in the familiar Fiesta Bowl venue where magic tends to happen for them. TCU and Georgia Tech annihilated the Mississippi schools in the Cotton and Orange Bowls. Food for thought: If we still had the BCS format, Bama and FSU would be playing for the National Championship.
Rose Bowl photos courtesy of Major Mark
This final score has become iconic already

Bowl Records by conferences:
Conference USA: 4-1
PAC 12:  6-2
Independents: 2-1
SEC: 7-5
Big Ten: 5-5
Mountain West: 3-4
American: 2-3
ACC: 4-7
BIG 12: 2-3
MAC: 2-3
Sun Belt: 1-2
The Ricarts rooting on BSU at the Fiesta Bowl
Bronco fans storm the field
The band spells out BSU. Fiesta photos courtesy of Octavio Ricart.
Doctor and Mrs. Alabma Al at the not so sweet bowl

The spawns of Alabama Al in NOLA

The DFT local crew braved the blustery winter cold and winds to attend the Foster Farms frozen chicken bowl in Santa Clara. Stanford would face Maryland on this unseasonably cold and windy California night. The actual attendance was a paltry (not poultry) 20,000 due to Maryland not traveling well and Stanford not having a passionate fan base. Not much of a game as Stanford won easily, but we did get to test out a new product called Instagate. Many times when I hit an out of town game, my first stop is to Wal Mart to pick up all the necessities for my tailgate. This includes, grill, charcoal, lighter, coolers, cups, utensils, games, condiments, trash bags, cooking tools, etc. Instagate is a product that comes with all of the aforementioned and is lightweight, disposable and eco-friendly to boot. When you open the box and take out all the goodies it turns into a cooler and a beer pong table as well! That was the only thing we could not use because of the heavy winds. Everything else worked great and I would strongly encourage you to check out this link and see for yourself: The best part is when your tailgate is over, you simply can toss it out if you are flying back home.
Tailgate in a box!
Don Quilici grilling Instagate style

Voila, Instant Tailgate!
Even a Marine and the Army Lt. can figure this out

The DFT crew at the frozen chicken bowl

Terrorist attire was the only option to stay warm.
Bieber Award – After scoring the decisive touchdown against Oklahoma in the Bedlam game, Ok State speedster Tyreke Hill did not go to Disneyland to celebrate. In fact his version of celebration does not match most. He thought it would be fun to punch his lady friend in the face and stomach and choke her and end up in the Pokey 4 days after the big win. Get it Cowpoke in the pokey? Apparently this was not Tyreke’s first BBQ as the victim stated “"but it has not been this bad, just a lot of manhandling" and that Hill had never hit her before. Beating a woman in itself is grounds for Bieberhood but what he did next sealed his fate. Hill shouted at the arresting Po Po that he was being arrested because he is black and she is white. Mr Hill, you may in fact be black, who gives a crap, you beat a woman and we hope you get yours in lockup. Please don’t be such a Bieber that you would play the race card on your egregious actions. You are an idiot. No, not even the Reverend Al will bail your butt out of this one. Clearly if you don’t make it in the NFL, you will have a career hiking balls in prisons for the big boys. Enjoy your award, it will look nice next to your mug shot.
Next Week – Both the FCS and D1 A Championship games will be played deep in the heart of Texas. North Dakota State goes for an improbable 4th Championship in a row against Illinois State in Frisco and Ohio State takes on Oregon at Jerry World. Also congrats to DIII champion Wisconsin Whitewater and DII belt holder Colorado Pueblo.
Happy Tailgating!
The Eagle Tailgaters at the Pinstripe Bowl.

Tennessee Tony sporting the new DFT long sleeves.

The USC song girls never grow old. Courtesy of Major Mark.

Navey Seal delivering game ball at Holidat Bowl.

A corn husker lost at the Holiday Bowl.

Cactus Bowl fat guy touchdown. Courtesy of Shannon Coppell.

Drubaca terrorizing Vegas bowl goers.

Steve and Eric Koreivo at the Pin Stripe Bowl.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Week 15 - Championship Weekend

With all the conference championships taking place this weekend, the Tailgate chose to attend the PAC 12 Championship at the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. Okay the reality is that it chose me as it is in my backyard and we had complimentary tickets. I was accompanied by the Dons of Danville: Desimone and Gervolino and their hired muscle Kevin Duncan. We met up in Red Lot 1 at Levi with Tony from the Yard aka Pauley Walnuts and his Governor, Jo Yard. While the weather was inclement, it did not dampen our spirits or enthusiasm for the festivities of the P One Two Ship Night. Upon unloading the tailgate wagon and setting up camp, we incurred two back to back 15 yard penalties: The first was realizing we left the DFT banner behind at DFT HQ breaking Don Gervolino’s heart who is very fond of the sacred cloth. The second was having to move all of our gear from one end of the car to the other after we were fully set up complete with hot coals upon requests from the parking attendants to relocate. Nonetheless, we adapted, overcame and adjusted to the situation.
Kevin charring the protein.
Lou antagonizing the Vegan visitors.


The  menu consisted of Spinach dip on French bread, Sis’s grilled beer brats smothered in swiss cheese and kraut, chili infused hot dogs, baked beans and smoked sausage. We were on a health food kick. Meats were provided courtesy of the head Husker Jeff “Tebow” Millard. Don Desimone manned the bar and hung the party lights, Kevin helped me burn meat product and Don Gervolino provided the gas that was necessary for our tailgate and significantly reduced the liquid provisions that were brought. Capo Walnuts scored the tickets for all of us. He knows people. He did make us do the Bataan Death March to find the Will Call window just so we would fully appreciate his gift to us.
Our Motley Crew wrapping up the tailgate.

The moon rises over Levi.
Oregon led by top Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota represented the PAC 12 North and Arizona with all world LB Scooby Wright were holding the banner for the South. This was the first year the game was played at a neutral site which also doubles as the new home of the San Francisco 49ers. The triple whammy of bad planning occurred: Friday Night game, rain, and a plane ride away for both teams. This lead to a fairly low attendance, 46,000 paid, less than 40,000 showed. I would like to see this game on Saturday in the future for a more robust crowd, reflective of the PAC 12 fan base.
Fans dressed as empty seats
As far as the game goes, I am just glad that adult beverages were sold during the game. The Arizona offense must have missed their plane from Tucson because they were nowhere to be found on this rainy night in the Bay. Marcus Mariota on the other hand solidified his chances to win the Heisman by having a Houdini like night escaping from pressure repeatedly to perform miraculous plays.  Oregon's defense was noticeably stingy on this night shutting down the Rich Rod spread offensive juggernaut. With the score going into the 4th quarter at 44 -7, we opted to take our third yellow flag of the night and depart early. Final score Oregon 51, Arizona 13. As we now know, Oregon locked up a spot in the new four team playoff and will face the CirimiNoles on New Years’ day in the Rose Bowl.
A Bud Light commercial at Levi

Back at the HQ, the Dons get their Pic with the banner.
Around the Country: In the ACC, the aforementioned Florida State CrimiNoles squeaked by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets for their 29th straight win and the ACC hardware. In the Georgia Dome for the SEC Cup, Alabama easily beat up Mizzou securing the top seed in the playoffs and a spot in the Sugar Bowl. In the most impressive win of the day, Ohio State behind their third string QB Cardale Jones completely byotch slapped the Weezconsin Baaadgers 59 - 0 at Lucas Oil Field in Indy for the BIG Ten crystal. The Buckeyes earned the right to face Bama in the Sugar Bowl for the other playoff game. In the Big 12 where there is no Championship game, Baylor beat Kansas State and TCU destroyed Iowa State. But apparently that didn’t matter to the committee of Elders as they felt Ohio State deserved a seat at the table more than they did. All the more reason for the omnipotent politburo to adopt my 8 team plan next year: 5 Power Five Conference Champs and 3 wildcards. We could fire half of the Walking Dead so called Experts on ESPN if we did so. Also in the Big 12, Choklahoma overlooked their in state rival OK State and coughed one up to them in Norman. Out on the blue in Boise, the Broncos took down the Gangstas from Fresno and won the Mountain West title and a shot in the Fiesta Bowl. It breaks my heart to see Fresno lose again. If you happened to watch the Thursday night game, UCF beat ECU on a last second 50 + yard Hail Mary pass for the most exciting finish of the week.
Dr. Pepper Larry finally gets his final four
Bieber Award

 – University of Alabama Birmingham President Ray Watts, the least bright Regent is this week’s winner. You see Mr. Watts, after “Analyzing Data" decided to shut down the UAB Blazers program. Robert Deniro was heard saying “Analyze This Watts”. UAB under their new coach just completed a turnaround season going 6-6 and becoming bowl eligible. Things were starting to look up for this Conference USA program. Mr. Watts decided to cancel the only program that generates revenue for the school instead of those sports that draw 20 – 30 fans in the stands and make no money. He claims the program would cost more coin than it brought in. However, he failed to meet with and discuss the issue with the program's biggest donors and boosters who all said they would have helped. He more or less unilaterally killed the program on his own. Rumor has it when he was in college he was chained to a light post on the campus quad in nothing but his skivvies at UAB when he matriculated through there in the 70s. He vowed to one day get back at those mean bullies, and so we have Revenge of the Nerds Part 3 played out in living color. Mr. Watts, you may no longer have a football program but please take comfort in the fact that you do now have a Bieber Award to add to your collection of Awards and honors.
President Watts and his mates during his college days.
The Tailgate’s next stop is Pasadena on New Year’s Day for the Rose Bowl/CFB Playoff game. The DFT banner will be at the Army Navy game in Baltimore next Saturday carried by the world’s oldest Army Captain, Lou Capezutto.

Happy tailgating!
Boise fans Storming the Blue after the big win.

Ben, Nick and the Boys taking in the action.
Mike Mullica wearing orange and red at Bedlam,


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Week 14 - Rivalry Week

This personifies rivalry week.

Although I personally took the weekend off from kicking it at the Tailgate scene, DFTers from across the Nation reported in with pics from their rivalry games.

DFT Siblings braving the cold at the epic Marshall - WKU shoot out.

The USC Song Girls never get old. Courtesy of Major Rodrick..

Who knew the Bear was a DFT Loyalist? Courtesy of Tracey Rector

 Nattily attired Bama Fan Dr. Alabama Al Rector at the Iron Bowl

Illinois sideline at Ryan Field vs, NW. Courtesy of Chris Peters.
As stated earlier in the year, I won’t do a write up on weeks when I don’t go to a game.

Results from Rivalry games around the Country:

The Game – Ohio State 42 – Michigan 28

Paul Bunyan’s Axe – Wisconsin 34 – Minnesota 24

Iron Bowl – Alabama 55 – Auburn 44

Egg Bowl – Ole Miss 31- Mississippi State 17

Territorial Cup – Arizona 42- Arizona State 35

Civil War – Oregon 47 – Oregon State 19

Apple Cup – Washington 31 – Washington State 13

Palmetto Bowl - Clemson 35 – South Carolina 17

Clean Old Fashioned Hate – Georgia Tech 30 – Georgia 24

In LA, some Hollywood actors impersonated as team from South Bend and took the field against USC.

Next Week – The Tailgate will head to Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, CA for the PAC 12 Championship between Oregon and Arizona. Saturday will be the annual Buffalo Wild Wings Conference Championships watching party in San Ramon.

Happy Tailgating!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 13 - The Long And WInding Road

                               My seven week road trip has come to an end
I began my seven week gauntlet in early October at the University of Oklahoma for Homecoming weekend and ended it this past Saturday in Tallahassee, FL, the land of Prince Jameis and Chief Osceola. Seven straight weekends away from Tailgate HQ and my fatherly/husbandly duties. I was joined on this trip by the notorious Eagle Tailgaters of Boston College fame: the Leblancs and the Gagnes. This would be my fourth year in a row to connect with this crew for a game. Anyone that prepares lobster tails at a Tailgate will be high on my list annually to tag along with. Besides, how could I pass up an opportunity to be a fifth wheel on their little couple’s getaway to Florida for the weekend? I felt a little like super creepy Rob Lowe for the weekend watching other couples.

Since I don't have DirectTV I like watching other couples Tailgate on Saturday
FSU had just experienced a horrific cowardly act early Thursday AM when a deranged dirt bag entered the school Library and shot and wounded three people. He himself met his demise when the police showed up and used him for target practice and turned him into a lead blanket. We were not sure what the vibe and mood would be based on this recent tragedy. We proceeded with cautious respect.

We rolled into Tallaharassment on Friday evening for a BC Athletics’ Department Soiree at the Governor’s Club.  I packed my Ted Knight Mariner’s jacket, mahogany pipe and practiced my Thurston Howell brogue in the event it was a high brow event and I needed to be a yacht club poser. It wasn’t that at all as BC Athletic Director Brad Bates hosted the small dinner and provided a forum for great football banter. Many in the room had played ball for BC and later became successful in the private sector. All are very active in helping BC get to that next level. This is a very passionate program with high academic standards putting the emphasis on student first and athlete second. It was a remarkable kickoff for the weekend festivities.

Based on weather reports for Saturday, we donned our cargo shorts, T shirts and sun screen and loaded up the Eagle wagon to make the 50 mile trek from our hotel in Perry, FL to Tally.  Only one problem, we never saw a lick of sunshine all day and experienced nothing but the heavy stuff from tent up to tent down. The National weather service earned Bieber considerations for the week. Nonetheless, with this famous advice from Carl Spackler at Bushwood CC, we played on:

Upon unloading our wagon and setting up in a prime piece of real estate next to our parking garage, we had our first man down of the day before the libations were even flowing. Depth perception is a bear when you achieve senior citizen status and Captain Pops Leblanc failed to realize the lawn chair was really right next to his feet. Boom Boom Pow! A little dirt and a crown infusion had the captain hosting his gate in no time. Get well Pops, we need you back on the active roster and so does BC.
The creepy old dude will do anything for sympathy!
The Fearsome Foursome of Eagle Tailgater fame

Cilla Gagne putting the Tail in Tailgate

We were also joined by my college roommate Chip “Shrek” Hayden and his family. I like taking pictures next to him for many reasons. Don and Sheila Therrien of the BC Gridiron club also joined us. In honor of Jameis, Co-Captain Rick Gagne rustled up some cakes with JW’s favorite meat product; crabs. We also feasted on the most incredible Lobstuh Beesk (As the Bawstonians pronounced it) I have ever had. The lobster chunks out-massed the liquid. We were surrounded by Florida State fans who could not have been any more hospitable and kind to us outsiders. Pared with the chow were the famous Bawstun Pops Bloody Marys complete with shrimp, bacon, cucumbers and garlic stuffed olives. This was a meal in itself. We mostly huddled under the tent and visited neighboring tents to avoid the rain drops falling from the sky for the majority of the tailgate.
Eagle Tailgaters
Bawstun Pops Marys

Eagle Tailgaters and DFT combine forces

Shrek, the wounded Eagle and Dan
Eagle Up in the rain.
Upon entering the stadium we were able to witness the one of a kind ritual of watching Chief Osceola on his faithful steed “Renegade” ride on to the field with his flaming spear. The entire stadium was doing the Tomahawk chop n chant (as they did for the next 4 hours). The Chief handed the spear off to Burt Reynolds, the honorary captain and former Seminole footballer to plant it into the turf at midfield on the logo. The Seminole nation went crazy. I have been told that I remind people of Burt back in his day. Take a look and let me what do you think?

Burt copying my pose
The original pose

Bowden field at Doak Campbell Stadium (Known as the Doak) is one of the most iconic cathedrals in all of college football. With the structural beauty of the outside facade to the history that has been made on the field, this one has been high on my list since the days of the wide right games against Miami. I will say that the stadium felt smaller to me than what I thought it would from watching games played there on TV through the years. It holds 83,000 fans but felt more like 60,000. The rain kept a number of people away but it was still a pretty ample gathering. The old girl has seen its share of epic battles throughout its 65 year existence.

The Chief getting the crowd fired up
The BC Folk at the Doak.
FSU boasts several national championships,  three Heisman trophy winners, and all time greats former coach Bobby Bowden, players Deion Sanders and Lee Corso just to name a few. They are coming off a National Championship and a 23 game unbeaten streak. Boston College under Coach Steve Addazio is one of those teams that will play every down as hard as they can and they will never quit. I got to get me some of what that guy is doling out.  Coming in facing the undefeated reigning National Champions, BC fully expected to come out with the win. FSU behind famous Jameis got off to a quick start with a touchdown on their first possession. The Eagles responded with a field goal showing the Noles that they were not intimidated.  And then the clouds opened up with the heavy stuff for the remainder of the game. FSU took a 17 -10 lead into halftime but had to earn every inch they gained.

The fantastic FSU Marching band known as the Marching Chiefs put on an entertaining halftime performance blaring out songs other than the Tomahawk Chop music. While FSU dined on crab legs in their locker room at the half and Jameis stood up on a table to shout things at people, BC Coach Addazio fired his troops up to play some Dude ball. To open the 2nd half, BC behind Florida Gator transfer QB, Tyler Murphy took control of the time of possession and pounded the ball up the middle and on the edges. The Noles D had no answer for the Eagle ground attack. With 12 minutes to go in the fourth, the Eagles mounted a clock eating drive only to miss a go ahead field goal that sailed wide right. De Ja vu all over again in this stadium Yogi? As has been the case all year, our anti-hero Jameis Winston mounted a drive to put FSU in position to kick the game winning field goal which they did.  The BC faithful can hang their heads high as they gave the title holders all they could handle. Final score FSU 20 – BC 17.  This was easily the best game I have been to all year. We loaded up the Arc and made the trek back to Perry for post gaming with Lobster rolls and college football on the telly.

Around The Country- ESPN College Gameday was at Harvard for the 130th game between Harvard and Yale in Cambridge. Harvard came away with the win to end their regular season undefeated and positioning themselves for a good seed in the FCS playoffs.  In a game where not many cared, Stanford eked out a win over Cal in the Big Game. UCLA annihilated their cross town rival USC in the ABC primetime matchup. We no longer mention results of Notre Dame games at the Tailgate unless the outcomes deviate from the current course. Coach Jerry Kill and the Minnesota Gophers are quietly having a great season with another win over Nebraska. In Norman, Oklahoma during a monsoon while one unnamed freshman was in her dorm watching it on TV, another freshman across the street was breaking the NCAA single game rushing record. OU Sooner true freshmen Samaje Perine broke Melvin Gordon’s week old record by racking up 427 rushing yards in a blowout over Kansas. This is a very humble young man, and we should be happy when good things happen to good people. Give me a tweet #32 if you are looking for a future father in law. Most of the SEC took the week off from real competition and scheduled JV scrimmages. However, Ole Miss was throttled by SEC West bottom feeder Arkansas. In the Mountain West, Boise State scored the minimum retirement age on Wyoming in Laramie high up in the altitude. Yes, I still follow Boise and they cracked the AP top 25 for the first time in weeks after this weekend.

Bieber – Former TTU DC Matt Wallerstedt was accused after last week of giving away defensive signals to TTU opponents this season. If you recall, back in September he was unceremoniously dismissed from the team. There were rumors of alcohol/substance abuse as the catalyst for the reason. Either that or he was caught with a poster of a shirtless Cliff Kingsbury in his home with hearts all over it.  Of course Mr. Wallerstedt denies this accusation, however there seems to be enough corroborating evidence from multiple sources that this is true. How could you do this to the kids you used to coach? Are you still sniffing the Elmer’s stuff? Mr. W is now at Louisiana Lafayette as an assistant coach. His future in coaching may forever be in doubt but what is not is the fact that he is this week’s Bieber boy!

Next week – And so begins my Familial re-entry program. With Thanksgiving, Mrs. Tailgate’s Birthday and our Anniversary, the Tailgate will be grounded and will get reacquainted with his family. I hope they remember what I look like.

Happy Tailgating!
The Bloke at the Doak

Two and half men at the UVA - Miami game

Major Mark sent this picture of pageantry from the Rose Bowl
Rick making the Lobstuh Beesk