As mentioned in my last write up, I booked a trip to head to Columbia, MO, for the UGA v. Mizzou game on 11/14. As is par for the course for 2020, I was thrown a curve ball three days before the 14th by reading that the game was cancelled due to the not-so-freaking-novel Rona virus! What is a caged tailgate animal to do when a situation deteriorates like this? Correct – I adapted, overcame, adjusted and landed at the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers home game against Southern Miss in Bowling Green, KY. Of course, Bowling Green being a little over an hour from Nashville afforded me time to take in the beautiful musical sounds, sights and of course top-notch vittles (and a spirit or two) throughout the weekend.
|Welcome to western Kentucky University!|
As my luck turned for the better, I was connected with the famous Topper Tailgate crew at WKY who are allowed to continue the tradition of tailgating in the RV lot. Mason and Karla Hamilton and their adorable eight-year-old daughter, Kirbee, were our main hosts. I also spent time with two other core members of Topper Tailgate: Brian and Mark. Mark was the person primarily responsible for bringing tailgating to WKU many low tides ago. I was regaled with great stories of the evolution of the program from the now FCS to the FBS D1 Al. The Toppers served an assortment of soups and chilis, deer salami, and a full bar accompanied with flavored moonshine! Corn hole boards were set up, kids played, adults shared stories and for a while, we all forgot about the misery that 2020 has brought us. At the conclusion of the tailgate, the whole crowd gathered to toast their Toppers with a shot of Fireball mixed with Big Red Soda. I must admit, it was so good I insisted on partaking in a second one. The whole experience was the first sense of normalcy that I have felt throughout the 2020 season. The small rv lot we tailgated in was the only place that tailgating was allowed on campus. In many ways, the experience was surreal, but it was also amazing for me to get back on my tailgate horse again.
|Brian & Mason showing great hospitality|
|Mark, Brian, Karla and Mason|
|A "Topper" Shot@|
|Planting the flag on another great tailgate!|
Western Kentucky plays in Conference USA, and the Hilltoppers are in the midst of a mediocre season. Thirty some years ago the Toppers were coached by the father of Jim and John Harbaugh, Jack. They play in Houchen Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium which was built in 1968 and has a normal capacity of 22,000, making it one of the smallest in Division 1A Football. However, in the season of Rona, only a few thousand tickets were sold to ensure good government-mandated compliance. Now there is an oxymoron for you! The marching band was actually the sitting band, but they belted out some spirited numbers. The mascot Big Red and the cheerleaders did their part to provide a true game day atmosphere. My seat was on the 30-yard line in the upper deck of the stadium. It is rumored that each seat is accompanied with a flask of Deep Eddies lemon flavored vodka. But I digress, as of course I would not have partaken if this was true. The game was a hard-hitting, defensive affair with the Toppers racing out to a 10-0 halftime lead. Southern Miss made a game of it by putting up a touchdown of their own in the 4th set for a final score of 10-7 in the Toppers’ favor.
|The Harbaugh name is much revered in Bowling Green|
Around the country – With so many games cancelled this week, 15 to be exact, there were only a few games of note to cover. But let us not forget last weekend when Notre Dame knocked off #1 Clemson, and Penn State got shellacked by the Terrapins (see what I did there again?). MACtion and the PAC 12 both also got underway and the top teams seem to be materializing. This weekend we saw Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Indiana, and Liberty continue their undefeated seasons. Florida continues to impress as they rolled over a much-improved Arkansas squad. USC had luck on their side for the second week in a row as they engineered another come-from-behind victory. Notre Dame beat the Catholics from Boston and won a sizeable bet that involved a nice haul of lobsters.
The DFT Top 10 at this point is as follows: 1. Alabama 2. Notre Dame 3. Ohio State 4. Clemson 5. BYU 6. Texas A&M 7. Florida 8. Cincinnati 9. Oklahoma State 10. Coastal Carolina It is my poll, so I don’t care what you think!
Bieber – This rendition of the Beebs is bestowed upon Pookah Williams, the star running back and best player at the University of Kansas. After Kansas sputtered to a dismal start of the season going 0-5, Pookah decided to abandon his Jayhawk brothers and quit the team to protect himself and prepare for the NFL draft. Look, I understand the risking the injury thing, but the optics on this glare of selfish entitledness and the attitude that you are too good for your team. Just remember Pooka Shells, no one would even know who you were had the University of Kansas not taken a risk on you and offered you a full scholarship. You owe it to your school and your teammates to finish out the season and be a man about it. Well, you may have lost the respect of the Rock Chalk Jayhawk nation, but at least you get some new Bieber bling.
Ginger – To all the Veterans who have served our country honorably, we salute you!
The Casty – This week the award goes to its namesake Craig Castelein for blowing me off in his hometown of Nashville this weekend. I will mail your hardware to you.
What’s next? – No clue with so many games getting cancelled. I feel fortunate to have been able to attend the one game I did this weekend. In a normal season, I would be running on fumes with over a dozen or more games under my belt by this time. With the new lockdowns and my first grandson on the way mid-December, it will be even tougher to get away for a game. Until then, happy homegating and tailgating for those of you who still can!