Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sweet Home Alabama....the skies weren't so blue

Tailgate update: The Tailgate traveled to the legendary college football bastion in the heart of SEC country that is the state of Alabama, where the skies are so blue and did you know in Birmingham they love their Governor, woo hoo hoo? The Tailgate was hosted by long time friend the good Doctor, Alabama Al, his wife Mrs. Alabama Al and their wonderful family. I was also joined by another longtime friend from my colorful youth, Tennessee Tony who is a West Virginia fan going to an Alabama game……go figure. The crowning event of the weekend would of course be the Alabama Crimson Tide hosting the undefeated MSU Bulldogs hailing from Starkville, MS in their homecoming matchup. But before we get to that event, I must share with you my indoctrination into all things football in the State of Alabama. There is more than the just the contentious rivalry between Auburn and Alabama and SEC smack talk. Football transcends generations of families, political parties, races and religions in the great State of Alabama….and it starts at a very young age. As we toured the back roads of Birmingham my eye was quickly drawn to placards in front yards with football helmets, a jersey number and a name on it. I just assumed they were for the local High School. Some were but most were for pee wee and junior football! You cannot make a trip to Alabama without also seeing the Iconic Legion Field where Alabama used to play half of its home games and is now occupied by the UAB Blazers. The great Bear Bryant won many memorable games here. It just so happens that Legion Field is also the site of the annual “Magic City Classic” matchup between Alabama State and Alabama A&M, two traditionally all black colleges from the D1 AA SWAC with the game being held the next day. So that meant the tailgating was and had been in full effect for days in the lots surrounding the stadium. The food smells were out of this world! Of course as usual, we were able to sneak into the stadium (act like you belong there and they never question you) and tour it and take pictures. As an added bonus, one of the schools was doing their walk through for the “Magic City Classic” the next day.

The legends at Legion Field

Inside the confines of Legion Field

We followed this up with some local brew at a brew pub and a dinner at Saws Soul Food. Of course to get the full indoctrination into Alabama football, one must attend a Friday night football game. Our host took us to a local rivalry matching up his son’s former team where he starred as an all state back last year and led his team to a temporary #1 ranking in the State. That high school stadium rivals some D1A stadiums I have been in.

Saturday morning came early so we powered down a pre tailgate breakfast and loaded up the tailgate wagon and headed west to Tuscaloosa to the University of Alabama campus. Game time was 7:30 so we arrived by 12:30. However, this being the SEC, the tailgating had commenced the day before. You see, the SEC does not seem to impose any silly rules such as “you can only tailgate 3-5 hours before the game and no tailgating afterwards”. They not only encourage limitless tailgating, there are very few restricted areas to set up on. As was the case in Baton Rouge four years ago, almost every nook and cranny of green space and then some was absorbed by tents, grills, generators, flat screen TV’s and shouts of ROLL TIDE and the sounds of Lynard Skynard banging out that little ditty about the state of Alabama…so listen up Neil Young you unwashed freak…these are some good folk!

The good Doctor, concerned that I put on a few lbs. since he last looked in on me, insisted that in conjunction with tailgating that I needed some cardio work. So he baited me into seeing the sites and traversing the campus with a promise that I could load up my pockets with adult beverages in the event that I became thirsty. I did. It was a classic SEC weekend carried out in Big 10 weather as the thermostat hovered below 50 degrees during the day with skies not so blue. Along the trail of tears, we walked through the quad (the main tailgate area), stopped at Denny Chimes Tower (where all Alabama football Captains have their hand and cleat prints engraved in the cement a la Grauman’s Chinese theatre, and visited the Bryant Museum where the accomplishments of the legendary coach are displayed. One can feel the spirit of the Bear throughout the campus on gameday as fans are clad in hounds tooth attire and his memory is invoked and his ghost called upon in times of need. Okay maybe not the last part, but this guy is as close to a human God as one can get in this part of the country. You will find his statue and plaques throughout the campus. We also caught the homecoming parade and the walk of champions where the players enter the stadium. The history of Alabama football is unrivaled. The program was founded 120 years ago by a carpet bagging Yankee (not to be confused with the tea bagging fan now in prison). The school boasts 14 National Champions, more hall of famers and future NFL stars and legendary coaches than I can count. Even Forest Gump played here and earned All American honors. “He must be the stupidest SOB alive, but he sure is fast”! You will see signs of their success throughout campus. The name Crimson Tide was derived from an early name when they were called the Crimson White based on the school colors. After a game in 1907 where Bama played Auburn in a sea of mud, a local sports writer said they looked like a crimson tide in all that red mud. So there ya go…some new knowledge for ya’ll. Roll Tide! But I still don’t get the elephant mascot named Al.

The Bear and the boyz
Bryant Denny looming in the background

The good doctor carrying extra medicine

We were joined by the Alabama Al’s family, Birmingham Burt and his wife Cheryl and His brother named Blue who wore a Red jacket and had a lot of green. Spicy chicken fingers, sandwiches, chips, dips and fruits and an assortment of cold beer were on the tailgate menu for the day. Not only does the SEC hold the reputation on the field as the best football conference in America, they have the best tailgating bar none in the country! I wish all schools could tailgate like the SEC does. Tailgating is beyond an art form here, it is a life style! The fans are super knowledgeable so bring your A game if you want to play some cfb trivia with these folks.

Flock of Seagulls lead singer Tennessee Tony

The Tailgate crew

Seneca Vallley class of 81

Mr. and Mrs. Alabama Al with Dan

Everybody's All American Mark Rector with Dr Alabama

Homecoming in Tuscaloosa

Bryant Denny stadium is as beautiful of a stadium as you will see anywhere. With its recent additions, the cathedral seats close to 102,000 passionate fans. You can see why so many top high school players choose to play here; simply awe inspiring. As far as the game goes, the Tide silenced the cow bells of MSU early by racing out to a 21- 0 lead and cruising to a 38 -7 victory led by a dominant defense and a steady offense commanded by AJ McCarron. As interesting as the game was, many tide fans found it equally entertaining keeping tabs on Auburn getting thumped at the same time by Texas A&M. Oh the joy it brings them to see their neighbors from the East suffer so.

Taking in one of America's best cathedrals 
Liliybelle and the girlz!

Around the Country – The Fighting Irish stormed into Norman, Oklahoma (land of my In Laws and their extended family) and did as Nostrildanus predicted: they won by three scores and stifled the high powered Sooner offense. Manti Te’o had a monster game. He is second right now in my mind for the Heisman. I won a few bets on this game, but I will not spike the football and celebrate. Instead I will do this with class and integrity and stay professional…….(darn this is hard to be so grown up). The Irish have three winnable games coming up followed by the big showdown at USC on November 24th. (The Tailgate will be there if you want to join us). I will not get ahead of myself, but how cool would a championship matchup between the Irish and the Tide be? Kansas State and Heisman leader Collin Klein obliterated Texas Tech. Hey guess what, the Mountaineers did not give up 50 + point this week! Oh right, that’s because they had a bye week.

The Florida Gators got chomped at the World’s Largest Cocktail Party by UGA and the Dawgs. UGA the dawg said “Gator meat tastes like chicken!” The lack of offensive imagination finally caught up with Muschamp’s swamp rats. For those of you watching the South Carolina- Tennessee game, you witnessed one of the most gruesome injuries since LT broke Joe Theisman in half. The Tailgate sincerely wishes Marcus Lattimore a speedy recovery and hopefully we will see him at the next level on Sundays. And the biggest news out of Baton Rouge this weekend involved the Honey Badger in another off field incident. You see, when the Honey Badger (he really don’t care) plays in the weeds, he becomes Honey Boo Boo. Do you think he will look good in a tiara in the loseiana state penn? Say hi to Maurice Claret for us in your future endeavors. Bad Bad Badger!

    + Po Po  =

Congrats to the University of Misery as they score their first SEC win against the lowly Kentucky Mildcats.

Over at the Big 10 in the Probation Bowl, the Bucks clipped the Nitts at the Shoe. Sparty gets it back on track with a mild upset over the other Badgers, and Dennard goes down as do the Wolverines to the Corn Shuckers. In the PAC 12 Oregon rolls over the Buffs, OSU loses its first game and Rich Rod and the Wildcats shock USC and Lame Kiffin with a win in the desert. I will not point out how badly Lame Kitten was outcoached as others may stoop to do. See, I am staying mature on this embarrassment. Elsewhere, BC gets win # 2 over Randy Edsall and the lemons from College Park, MD. The Boise State Broncos take in the rarified air of Laramie, Wyoming and bucked the cowboys 45 -24. Hey Coach Christensen, how did you enjoy watching the game from home…mister integrity my arse. San Jose State is one win away from becoming bowl eligible with a win over Texas State (right I know, who the hell are they?).

Tradition of the week – The typical greeting in the state of Alabama as I heard it all weekend was a simple “roll tide”; response back was “roll tide”. I can’t quite get the accent down but it become more entertaining to hear the more beverages people consumed and then yelled it out.

Hit of the week:

Gripe of the week – Where is this “conversation” being held that the pundits always talk about? I hear about so and so “should now be part of the conversation” for the Heisman race. Such and Such a team should be part of “the conversation” for the National Championship. Coach X should be part of the conversation for the Vacancy at State U. I am really upset because I want in on this conversation….I have searched high and low, far and wide, to the ends of the earth and back for the location and people of this “Conversation”, but as it turns out, it is merely a figurative mythical conversation that has never been, is not, and will never be held. It is just more predictable speech from un-original pundits in the world of CFB who can only regurgitate what others have already said. Yeah that’s right; I am calling you out on Gameday and Fox Football and of course the schmucks on CBS and ABC. What happened to inventiveness and originality? Did it disappear with the deaths of Warner Wolff, Vin Scully and George Michael? Or perhaps Chris Berman & Keith Jackson may be the last original talking heads of our time. Okay, now that I have alerted you to this annoying issue I have a game for you to play: Every time you hear a talking head next Saturday utter the words “In the conversation” I want you to take a drink of scotch. Let me know the next morning how you are feeling. It should be fun and a good social ice breaker at whatever scene you are into!

Next week the Tailgate will be in Sacramento tending to my daughter’s youth soccer (partially) and locating a good table in a sports bar to catch all the action. I will not be making the trek to Boise as was previously planned.

I am looking for a guest writer to take over the blog the weekend of 11/17 as I will be on Vacation that weekend surfing, parasailing and scuba diving. Or I may just be sitting on the beach with a few libations. Nonetheless, I need someone to cover for me. Give it a shot, it’s a hoot.

Happy tailgating!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tailgate Grounded

Tailgate HQ on Gameday

The Tailgate maintained a low profile and tended to family activities for the weekend which of course meant fitting in 15 or so games on TV as well as Gameday at 7 AM. Mrs. Tailgate wants you all to know this was not her request, it was mine solely. The HQ den was adorned with 3 separate screens going at once as well as an additional 1 in the bar. Featured games were Texas A&M v LSU, Notre Dame v BYU, Boise v UNLV, Bama v Tennessee, K- state v West Virginia. Oregon State v Utah and many more.

Visited Spanos stadium at Cal Poly earlier last week

Around the Country: In the PAC 10 the much anticipated matchup in Tempe turned into a one sided desert tsunami sustained by the Sun Devils. Coach Graham couldn’t catch his breath until the Ducks had put up 43 on ASU…….in the first half! In the Big Lame in Berkley, the Stanford Tree and its ridiculous Band walked out of Strawberry Canyon with a non controversial win on the 30th anniversary of “The Play”. Oregon State remains perfect in an ugly win over the Utes in Corvallis in the rain at night. Congratulations to “Snap” Barkley for setting the PAC 12 passing record against that Division III school from Colorado.

Big 12 - TTU and TCU played perhaps the game of the day (that I did not see) a triple OT win for the Red Raiders in Fort Worth. T2 (Tommy Tuberville) has the Red Raiduhs playing some serious ball! Baylor and Texas scored a whole bunch of points on each other. Does anyone remember the Alamo? Those Texas teams could use a defense of the likes of what Davey Crockett, Travis, Bowie, Houston and John Wayne did in 1854 defending that plot of land in Texas against Santa Ana.

Texas Teams should remember the Alamo!
The Cowpokes earned a mild upset over the Cyclones that were planning on storming through Stillwater and the Sooners hasten the involuntary retirement of Charlie Weiss with an annihilation of the Jayhawks in Norman. Kansas State marches into Morgantown in a showdown of Heisman favorites. It was not even close. The Mountaineer faithful are devastated. It was rumored that they hired a Medium to invoke the ghost of Senator “Klan Boy” Byrd to appeal to Congress for defense funds. Bill Snyder and Colin “Optimus” Klein were heard singing on their way out of Morgantown. Take a listen below and turn up volume:

SEC - Bama silences 107,000 orange clad fans singing Rocky Top and filling their troughs with orange liquid (It’s true). AJ McCarron remains perfect on the year, 16 TD’s and 0 Ints. How can you not put him in that proverbial Heisman conversation now? Mississippi State takes care of bidness over MTSU setting up my dream of an undefeated SEC game in Tuscaloosa next week. Look for me on TV in my hounds tooth hat. Here is a little video I put together to mark the journey:

Ahhhh and Johnny Football had the air let out of him as the Bayou Bengals christened Kyle Field into the SEC. Okay, I will finally give the Gators some props as they shut up the "ole ball coach" and his loud mouth soup in the swamp convincingly.

Big 10 - Don’t look now but State Penn is 6-2 after delivering a knockout punch in Iowa City to the cleverly clad fans wearing Sandusky fashioned pin stripes. In the battle of the glove state, too much Dennard and his shoelaces in the end as the Patrick Swayze led Wolverines take down Sparty. Northwestern was caught napping in the 4th quarter going down to the children of the corn at Ryan Field. There was more red than purple in the stands.

The Purple Cats taking their pre-game nap

Urban and the Buckeyes continue to live dangerously as they eek another one out against a school from the state of Indiana for the second consecutive week.

The angry Castelein sisters with Brutus at the OSU - Indiana game. Their Mom is way cool!

ACC - Bedlam in Durham as the Dukies become Bowl eligible for the first time since the Ole Ball Coach graced the sidelines in Kryzewskiville 20 years ago. The students stormed the field, albeit somewhat awkwardly as this is a new ritual for them. The other Death Valley in Clemson, SC killed the dreams for the Hokies having another 10 + win season and Florida State disabled the Canes in the battle of the Sunshine State.

Other - The Fighting Irish continue to live dangerously staying undefeated by sprinkling some Leprechaun pixie dust on the Cougars in South Bend. The Irish are poised to take on the Sooners in Norman, OK next week along with the ESPN Gameday crew. Any of my Sooner peeps want to wage a side bet? In a Blackout on the Blue Turf in Boise, the Broncos put some black and blue marks on an improved UNLV squad. Locally San Jose State sieges the Alamodome for a runaway win. One more win and the Spartans are Bowl eligible. Navy battles Indiana to a 31 – 30 victory, Air Force scores a direct hit with a win over New Mexico. Sadly, Army gets blitzed again by EMU on the road.

Tradition of the week - In Norman, Ok after every Sooner score, the Sooner Schooner (covered wagon for you metropolitanites)traverses the field and the Boomer Sooner song plays over the loud speaker with 80,000 Okies thoroughly enjoying the ritual. I am just hopeful we won’t see much of this ritual next week when the Irish come calling.

Boomer Sooner

Hit of the week – Turn your sound up, pretty funny. This kid will take up theatre now.

Gripe of the week – oh what the heck, Mark May. I still can’t stand him and he has grown more pompous than ever. This is the first repeat “Gripe of The Week” in the history of the Tailgate. His likeability rating has to be the worst on ESPN, next to Colin CowTurd. This week, the big baby stormed off the set when he lost a decision to Lou Holtz on their little mock court. It doesn’t help him that he despises every team I like. Here is what the Boise faithful think of you May Day!

Next Week – The Tailgate will be hosted by Alabama Al in Tuscaloosa and joined by Tennessee Tony to partake in all the festivities of the Bama - MSU game at the historic Bryant Denny Stadium. Was thinking of buying a checkered fedora and a red sports coat for the occasion. Thoughts?

Happy Tailgating!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Double Header Weekend

The Tailgate traveled to Boulder Colorado for the Thursday night game to witness the Colorado Buffaloes taking on the emerging ASU Sun Devils and Coach Todd “This is my dream job again” Graham. The Tailgate was joined by Tailgate Tony from the yard, Jeff “Ice Cream Man” Porter and West Point Wiggins. There is much history to be considered when the Buffaloes are mentioned. Coaching legends such as Fairbanks and McCartney (after the Beatles broke up) and players such as Byron “The Whizzer” White, Darien Hagan, Kordell Stewart, Michael Westbrook, Rashaan Salaam and of Course Mork from Ork back in the late 70’s.

Mork back in the day he graced the gridiron at Folsom Field.

Since the mid 1980s I have always wanted to tailgate and attend a game at the University of Colorado and the venerable Folsom Field. I can remember watching the Buffs take on OU in the 87 season with a promising young Quarterback named Sal Aunese who would be taken from this world way to soon 18 months later stricken down with pancreatic cancer. I always remember how festive the night games looked with the students and alumni packing it in and Ralphie the Buffalo running on to the field. Back in 1988, current offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy was a star running back for the Buffs. While watching a Thursday night game that year with my soon to be bride the future Mrs. Tailgate, the announcers kept calling his name: Bienemy to the left, Bienemy to the right, Bienemy up the middle, Biememy with the catch, Bienemy with the score. After about an hour of this, my bride to be turns to me and inquires in her sweet little voice: “who is The Enemy” that they keep talking about?” This explains why I get all my football weekend hall passes to this day.

Several years ago, a customer and friend of mine and CU alumni Rocky Mountain Rich Lawson showed me a picture of this amazing tailgate rig he and some buddies owned and regaled me with stories of his much celebrated Tailgate tradition. So I invited myself to finally attend his tailgate since it lined up perfectly with my work travel schedule. The tailgate rig owned by Rich and a number of his Colorado alumni buddies is named RIG III as this is the third version of a rig over their 20 years of tailgating. Custom made in Texas, almost impossible to haul because of its weight it is stored right outside of Boulder and hauled into the tailgate lot for home games. It is equipped with a 4 tap keg system that pours only Colorado’s finest beer Coors Lite, two industrial grills, a smoker, a large propane tank and generator and is located right next to the stadium on gameday. A DJ and security guards are hired to keep things moving at their Tailgate. Brats, burgers, dogs, sausages, pork tenderloin were grilled and smoked. A vodka bar was also set up as well as a flat screen TV with the MLB playoffs being shown. The best part was coming out at halftime for a refresher! Well done Rich, this exceeded my expectations.

The boyz getting their rocky mountain high on!

Rocky Mountain Rich with the fellas

Rich, Dan and the lone ASU fan at the tailgate!

Guy Fieri and David Wells at the tailgate!

Pauley Walnuts and Dan sampling the local brew on the amazing tailgate rig.
We entered the 88 year old stadium to a crowd that was fired up in anticipation of a Buffalo victory on this cool crisp Colorado night. With the Rocky Mountains and dorms in the back drop, there is no view quite like it in college football. We chose once again to sit in the student section to take in the full ambience of America’s # 1 party school. We were not disappointed as students passed out, fell over benches and unfamiliar odors wafted through our section. The first half had all the excitement you could ask for in a College football game. ASU took a 20 -17 lead into the locker room. Apparently that wasn’t good enough for Coach Todd Graham as they came out on fire in the 3rd Q and ran away with a 51 -20 conquest led by an emerging star QB Taylor Kelly. We were entertained by the student body doing a little “Psy Gangnam Style’ giddyup tango:

Tailgate Tony, a renowned Dodger fan kept whining and wanting to leave early. I had to explain to him that we weren’t yet in the 7th inning so he had to stay later than he wanted. No home win, no storming the field with the students and no running with Ralphie the Buffalo. As an aside, I struck up a conversation with some ASU parents at the airport the next morning and mentioned that their QB was a stud. They replied with well thank you, that is our son!

The boyz enjoying the student section at Colorado
A spectacular stadium

The annual Men of Laurelglen and friends Tailgate took place Saturday morning on the plains of the San Jose State University Stadium lot in preparation for the homecoming battle against Utah State. But first of all, I would like to wish one of our own from Laurelglen, Timothy Wegner a speedy recovery as he convalesces from his hysterectomy he underwent Saturday. Because of the procedure, Tim was not able to join us. Hope you can make it next year Tami…I mean Timmy. As is typical, we got there early and were able to secure prime real estate for our festivities. Tents were erected, tables put together, music blasted, grills fired up, games set up and drinks mixed as the party got rolling. Pre game menu consisted of a Dan original: 36 eggs/ 6 lbs. potato O’Brien/4 LinguiƧa sausages/2 kielbasa/2 smoked sausage/1/2 1b of 6 cheese mix all scrambled together. Damn it was good! I must add that it paired beautifully with spicy bloody marys. So much food we ended up with our own altruistic efforts and fed half of the Senior class of SJSU with our leftovers. No keg this year but ample bottles and cans were provided for the crew.

I kicked Sparty's butt in beer pong!

The Men of Laurelglen 2012

Gangnam Style Psy!

Dru and Taggert...Brama Bulls

Spartan Stadium

We played beer pong with Sparty the Mascot, the girls from the breast cancer awareness tent next to us, inter-squad scrimmage too and flip cup with anyone that would stop by. We learned that we are a lot more popular when we have a keg. Big Dru did a 24 ounce beer funnel to boot. Speaking of Dru, our resident bachelor from the Laurelglen crew was asked at the Tailgate festivities what kind of girl in this target rich environment he was looking for to share the day with? After much contemplation he responded with the following words: (turn it up and pour yourself a cool one Clarke)

We were given free tickets on our way into the stadium. It was not a glorious day for the Spartans as the Aggies from Utah State put some serious offensive numbers up besting SJSU 49 -27. We did get to perform the Gangnam Style dance craze again (pics above)

Around the country:Mrs. Tailgate and little Gracie Tailgater joined Boise State Rachel for the game in Boise against Fresno State. The Broncos go to 5-1 with a win over a much improved Fresno State squad. It still aint the same without Kellen Moore!

The Tailgate Family
Rachel and Gracie at the Blue Turf

Was there Irish magic and mystique again in South Bend as Notre Dame stops Stanford short in OT for a 20 -13 win? Sparty going down in the freezing rain to the Hawkeyes in East Lansing. Urban going back to Indiana and almost bowing to the Cutters from Bloomington (Think Breaking Away for that reference). Mountaineers could not scale the hills of West Texas and stumbled into a catastrophe in Lubbock. Will ESPN still slobber over Geno this week? The Sooners smelled blood in the water in the red river rivalry and steered the Longhorns right out of the Cotton Bowl in a 63 -21 annihilation. The Sooner nation has now awoken! See the guest post write up by Sooner fan Matt Bolt below. K-State and Colin “Calvin” Klein, went Back To The Future and are now 6-0 for the first time since Coach Snyder was here the 1st time! Klein needs to be considered as a serious contender for the Heisman as the Cats defeated a solid Cyclone team from Iowa State. Gary Patterson asks “who needs ole Casey Pachall anyway?” as TCU thumps Baylor with a sober QB. It is confirmed, Tiger grass does taste good and Coach Spurrier left Baton Rouge a “leetle” red faced. It is the place where opponents come to have their dreams die so sez the mad hatter. Oregon State does not skip a beat with QB Sean Mannion sidelined for a month as the surprise team of the year takes down the Cougs from Promontory Point with ease.

Anybody ever heard of Johnny “Football” from Texas A&M and General Patton from Louisiana Tech? This was the game of the day for those of you that stayed up late like me to watch this. LA Tech came back from like 200 points down to come within a crappy 2 point attempt of tying A&M, falling 59 -57 in the end. Johnny “Football” Manziel the freshman A&M QB is simply “amazable”. This guy will win a Heisman before he is done in College Station, TX. On the other side of the field, General Quinton Patton from LA Tech had a sick 21 catches! I said 21! Heck that is a season for most college wide outs. Mike Leach and the “empty corpses” of Wazoo laid down and died against the Cal Bears late Saturday night in the Palouse. Mississippi State knocks the orange out of Rocky Top and Bama gives Mizzou an extremely rude welcome to the SEC with a Tide whitewash. This sets up nicely for a potential matchup of unbeatens in 2 weeks in Tuscaloosa. Guess who will be there? Hey don’t look now but that real estate mogul John L and his Hogs have just won 2 in a row. SoooooooooWeeeeeeeeeeee!! VA Tech gets back on the winning side of things. BC, it is time for a coaching change. The Eagles where tomahawked by the Seminoles badly on Saturday.

Academy update – After the Tailgate sprinkled good luck On Army last week, the Cadets lay an egg against Kent State (Tin soldiers and Nixon, coming…..). Navy rights their ship again and cruised past the Chippewas in Mt. Pleasant Michigan and the Air Force flew by the Cowboys from Laramie 28 -27.

Sandusky dating again- it’s good to see the sandman is allowed conjugal visits in his cell. The warden at state penn just sent in this new photo from the “it’s just lunch” web site of a his new friend:

Friend of Jerry

Tradition of the week – Ralphie the Buffalo running on the field at the beginning of each Colorado game. I mean the build up to Ralphie coming out of the pen and on to the field has as much anticipation and excitement as the first keg being tapped in Munich at the annual Oktoberfest….ooops that is a whole other story. This beast of an animal is tethered by 4 stout cowboys that run him on to the field at full speed before the start of the game. The fans go nuts! Ralphie goes nuts! The announcer goes nuts! Hell, I went nuts! It lasts less than 20 seconds but it may be the most exciting 20 seconds you will see out of a Buffalo all season this year.

Gripe of the week – What is it with player’s helmets popping off during the game at a record rate? There is this thing called fit and a chin strap. Usually if the fit is right and you use that strap it is pretty hard to knock that noggin container off your melon. Up until this season players thought this must have been cool to do this to get some face time or primp for their posse and fam fam in the crowd. Obviously I am not the only one annoyed with this as the NCAA Politburo came down with a rule this year that forces a player to sit out the next play if their cranial cap pops off. So now it is no longer cute, it is a matter of now letting your team down and could be costly if the game is in a critical state and you are forced to take the next play off. So listen up fellas, strap that thing on properly and play the game!

Guest post by Matt Bolt, Oklahoma University Alumni (Thank you Matt for a great post!)

On Saturday two longtime Oklahoma friends and I continued our annual October tradition of meeting in Dallas for the Oklahoma-Texas “Red River Rivalry” game played over at the historic but renovated Cotton Bowl. While the game is always the highlight of our weekend, our time in Dallas usually consists of us college friends having fun hanging out at bars, breweries, and restaurants in the days and nights before and after the game and this year was no different. I drove up from Houston on Friday morning to meet up with Chris who already lives in Dallas and we later drove over to DFW to pick up Joe who flew in from Memphis.

Fast forwarding to Saturday, we were forced to wake up before sunrise after a late night due to the earlier 11AM kickoff and the need to beat traffic to the state fairgrounds on the southeast side of Dallas where the Cotton Bowl is located. Waking up even much earlier than us was my dad who got two game tickets and drove in from Norman, OK that morning starting around 4AM. The four of us headed from Chris’ house to the fairgrounds bypassing all the backed up I-30 fair traffic to get to the much lesser used but very convenient parking in a neighborhood off Martin Luther King Blvd which we discovered about 13 years ago. After a short five minute walk and stop in McDonalds we entered the state fair and the crowded mixed masses of crimson and burnt orange. While this game would yield an ideal tailgating atmosphere if played anywhere else that traditional type of setup is replaced by the carnival atmosphere of the State Fair of Texas that surrounds the Cotton Bowl and is always taking place this time of year. Pregame activities include carnival games, rides, live music, 4H livestock shows, and anything one would expect at a large state fair. In case anyone ever misses breakfast and is hungry at 9AM there is a plethora of fried foods and drinks some more amazing then others and they come up with new and crazier fried items every year. Fried beer, fried butter, fried Snickers, and fried Coke are a few items one can choose from in case he or she is concerned about living too long.

We passed on the food and rides and after spending time checking things out outside we headed to the car display buildings on the north side of the fair. After about an hour of helping Joe get ideas regarding a replacement for his ancient Volvo we walked over to the stadium to join the orange and red shirts filing into the stadium gates. Joe and Chris headed up to their seats in section 102 while my dad and I headed to ours in section 124. Unlike other neutral site rivalry games such as Florida-Georgia the Oklahoma-Texas game has the 92,000+ fans split 50/50 on opposite sides of the stadium with the split line being the 50 yard line. This game atmosphere plus the setting of the surrounding state fair and traditionally higher stakes of this rivalry game are what makes it arguably one of if not the best rivalry game atmosphere in college football . Just watching the stands fill up during warm-ups and band performances is special.

The game this year could barely have been more lopsided. OU quickly jumped out to a quick lead on their opening drive and a 36-2 halftime advantage. Final score: 63-21. A few junk Texas touchdowns in the final minutes against OU’s reserves and an ill thrown pick six by OU’s Landry Jones were Texas’ only touchdowns of the day and the game felt more lopsided than the score indicates. OU finished with almost 700 yards of offense and it was late in the 2nd quarter before Texas ever got a first down. As it was in the blowouts of years 2000, 2003, and 2011 we watched most of the game with half the stadium being full of crimson and the other half empty with only scattered burnt orange faithful remaining. The big question now is whether Mack Brown will return as head coach of Texas next year after yet another embarrassment?

We met up with Joe and Chris in their section before the game ended to watch the tradition of the OU flag being planted at midfield and the Golden Hat trophy awarded to the victors. If it had not been for the incoming stormy weather we would have stayed at the fair longer but we chose to head out and watch West Virginia collapse against the Red Raiders along with other good games on that day. Overall it was another great game and great weekend.

They will literally fry anything at the Texas State Fair!

Boomer Sooner

Next week I had to call an audible and will skip my homecoming at Frostburg State and return to the confines of Tailgate Headquarters. This is a marriage enriching move. Yes, I am deservedly catching heat for this already.

RIP Alex Karras, former Iowa Hawkeye and NFL great. Mongo may you play on the gridiron in the clouds. RIP to Beano Cook, longtime ESPN college football analyst. May your voice still be heard good sir.

Happy Tailgating!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

On Brave Old Army Team

Tom's pub.

The Tailgate traveled to the Banks of the Hudson where college football is steeped in tradition, greatness and patriotism. Up until the late 1950’s, Army had been a perennial national powerhouse. under HOF Coach Red Blaik the Black Knights won national championships in 44, 45 and 46 and back to back Heismans in 45 & 46 with Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis and in 1958 with Pete Dawkins. Having been a ROTC commissioned Army Officer, I have always had some loyalty to USMA and the Cadets and the dedication of these young men (My reasons for serving were less noble than theirs as I had a large bar tab to pay off from my college days, and I was influenced by Bill Murray in Stripes). The historic campus is littered with ghosts of great Americans: Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George “slap em and love em” Patton, Omar Bradley, Ulysses Grant and Robert E Lee just to name a few of the greats that matriculated through the Point. The fall colors, the crisp October air, the Alumni swapping stories, the long gray line of the cadets marching in, the pageantry, the pomp and circumstance, the post game singing of the Alma Matter and of course a raucous Tailgate on the banks of the Hudson led to a most memorable experience. I was accompanied by West Point Wiggins and hosted by the Monahan and Kimsey Tailgate crew from the USMA class of 86 in “A lot” right outside the stadium. Lodgings were provided by Tom & Jeri (no lie) Voyteks Pub and boarding house. Friday night in Tom’s pub was just a primer for the Saturday festivities as we drank good draft beer and watched baseball and the Friday night CFB games.

My Version of Duty Honor Country

We started the pre game tailgate on Saturday morning with the appropriate breakfast beverage of choice, a kick starting bloody Mary followed by some tasty PBR suds. No chow before the game as that would be saved for the post game Tailgate. Also met up with my old High school Buddy and former Army offensive tackle Karl “Tiny” Heineman and his clan.

The West Point Tailgate Crew

Tiny Heineman makes me looks skinny

Army was taking on the Eagles from BC, with both teams struggling mightily through the opening month of the season. This would be the opportunity for one of the two teams to right their ship. Army had a special good luck charm join them as their last Heisman trophy winner Pete Dawkins graced their sideline for the afternoon. In a game that saw Army surge out of the gates and then relinquish a lead with players being carried off the field and the air being sucked out of the stadium by halftime. The feeling was that BC would just overpower the smaller Black Knight squad at that point. But as it is often said, the Service Academy teams do not know what the word quit means. Army crawled back into the battle with a tenacious ground attack that BC had no answer for. Down 31 -28 with less than a minute to go, Army QB Trent Steelman ran the triple option to perfection and tucked the ball under his wing and scampered 40 yards down the field for the winning score! This was surely the biggest win in historic Michie Stadium in recent years. The Cadets racked up over 500 yards of offense. I was all set to rush the field with the cadets but noticed that I would have been the only one doing it. I believe such childish actions are prohibited in institutions like USMA and frowned upon. We missed meeting up with the legendary “Pops” Leblanc and his BC crew and doing the traditional Eagle Up pre game shot. However he did send me a nice BC T-shirt that was waiting for me when I returned home.

Dan and West Point Wiggins in Michie

Serious fuel injection!

The Black Knights doing battle.

Never trust an Irsish bartender!
On to the post game festivities, all the tailgates around the campus were joined by Cadets as they had a get out of jail pass until 11 PM that night to party with friends, family and even strangers like me. Great chow, as the menu consisted of ribs, burgers, sausages, chicken, and mac salad. Of Course an assortment of beer was also distributed to the troops and tailgaters. At the conclusion of the post game gate we did a forced road march around campus checking out all the historic buildings, epic views, statues and places that scarred the memory of a young Cadet Wiggins where he was hazed, harassed, sharpied, spat on and wedgied some 30 years before. I bet I had more fun at Frostburg State than he did ! After the march, we headed back to Tom’s Man cave pub to catch the late games of the day on his 3 screen set up. Hey Tom, check your basement. I am still there. This is my dream home now. 

Major Tom keeping ground control in the Man Cave
General MaCarthur and Lt. Dan

Around the country: In a weekend that saw big upsets, and three top 5 teams go down, the college football landscape is starting to take shape. Upset of the week for those of you that watched this game, NC State pulled it out in the end to shock # 3 Florida State in Raleigh and the fans did not rush the field? What is this silly trend? Just because they had a 12 foot wall to jump from is no excuse not to storm the field. Are the Irish for real? I know there are a lot of haters and doubters out there but I am more impressed each week with their defense. Against the Hurrilames of the U on Saturday night they racked up some impressive O stats as well in a 41 -3 blowout at Soldier Field in Chicago. Michael Irvin, Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp and other notable former U players (notice I did not say graduates) are planning on disassociating themselves from the school if this happens again. Chancellor Shalala would be so crushed I’m sure. My good friends Snooki and the Sitch attended and sent in a guest photo. The Boyz from the Blue smurf turf traveled down to Hattiesburg, MI and put together a performance reminiscent of the Kellen Moore era by putting 40 up on Southern Miss. Navy saves it season with an OT win over Air Force below the shadow of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs.

The docile puppies from Athens, GA were hounded into submission early and often by a game Cocks squad from the other USC in a decisive 35 - 6 beatdown. The ole ball coach still has a few tricks up hizzle sleeve. “We just came out and peetched it around a bit” he was quoted as saying. Staying in the SEC, LSU and their pathetic offense were exposed for the second week in a row but this time it cost em as Musty Muschamp and his snippy snappy Gators chomped down hard in the Bayou and came away with the W, 14-6. Howz that there Tiger grass taste now Coach Miles? Coach John L Smith is now $40 large large in da hole!!!! That means 7 zeros after the 4! What kind of football coach can get that far in the hole? At least he got a big win against War Eagle on Saturday perhaps saving the Hogs season. Anyone looking for an ex Auburn coach to hire next season? He has good hair. The Teabagging Tide from Tuscaloosa ( had the weekend off and were able to breathe a little easier seeing how things shook out.


Pretty sad when the best team in the Big 10 doesn’t count this year. Urban and the boys from Columbus Bucked up and smacked down T- Magic and the Huskers in a 63 – 38 victory. Militiagun State struggled in Bloomington, IN eeking out a win against Gene Hackman’s Hoosier squad. Only if the Hoosiers ran the “ole swinging gate” play and let Jimmy Chitwood get the glory, they might have won. Northwestern Purple Cats got abused in State College, PA…oops bad choice of words. The Cats were so deflated that they refused to shower after the game. And Coach Dana “Hairless club for men” Holgersen and his offensive Mountaineer juggernaut are just happy that Mac Brown does not know how to run a defense either. WVU racked up its second Big 12 shootout win in a row against teams from the State of Tejas. K- State continued to force Coach Front Butt Weiss to question “what was he thinking” taking the job in Lawrence. It’s Buffet time Charlie, eat up. Bill Snyder is just a brilliant coach. The Sooners rebound with a solid win against the Red RAIDUHS!

In the Pac 12, Stanford had to pull out all their weapons to slide by the Rich Rods from U of A as Josh Nunez showed flashes of Andy Luck. Oregon State stays perfect by continuing to give Mike Leach a proper welcome to the conference. Matt Barkley had a fantastic second half as the Trojans stole one in Utah Thursday night. The Black Mamba and the Ducks flew by the Huskies in their most impressive win of the season. UCLA losing to the lowly Cal Bears? Not good for the conference. Commissioner Scott has to be pleased with the overall level of conference play; Oregon, Oregon State, USC and Stanford are considered elite teams as of this point in the season.

Countdown to Mr. Sandman’s sentencing in 3 days…

Hit of the week:


 Tradition of the week – The cadet parade review at West Point and march through campus to the stadium. Nothing will make the hair on your neck stand up quite like it. You can feel the history, the pride and the patriotism go rushing through your blood when you experience this. Only I wasn’t quite there on time to see it due to the fact my co pilot Karaokied until 4 AM Friday night (Very poorly I might add). Man I wish my middle daughter would heed her calling and go the Academy!

Gripe of the week - I watch a lot of college football shows with so called experts. Many of these shows will have recently fired/disgraced ex coaches filling up the sound waves with hot air. How am I to take them seriously when they couldn’t get it done on the sideline, yet now they have become the omnipotent ones regarding the game they were just pink slipped from? It’s kind of like getting advice from Jimmy C and George B the 1st on getting reelected. Okay, I promised not to be political on the blog because football unites us all, even if you are wrong and don’t agree with me ideologically LOL! Just recently I watched “Coach” Dan Hawkins on the ESPN show called The Experts talk about some team’s defensive miscues. Check me if I am wrong, but isn’t this the same guy who was run out of Boulder like a lady of the night in a monastery? Why should I listen to a guy whose Defenses were as porous as France during Blitzkrieg in WWII? Last year we got to watch Rich Rod slink his way through a season of being a pundit. This was the guy that gives Cheat Carroll a run for his money on ethics and integrity. Do I really want pointers from him. Okay, I will take my meds and go calm down now.

Vintage footage of my brother Brian watching football at brother Billy’s house in 1994:

Next week is a big doubleheader for the Tailgate. We will be taking in a big celebration in Boulder on Thursday night. If the Buffs win, I will storm the field and run with Ralphie the Buffalo. Shades of me in Pamplona in 08 with the exception that I dove over a fence to get out of the street so the fools could get crushed. Right Dru? Saturday is the annual Men of Laurelglen and friends tailgate at San Jose State. We will be doing a big breakfast tailgate as game time is 1 PM.

Happy Birthday to my baby girl Rachel who turns 21 on the 8th!

Happy Tailgating!