Saturday, January 19, 2013

Year End Wrap up for 2012

American hero, icon and personal inspiration John Winger, prior to joining the Aaaaaaarrmmmmmmyyyyyyy once so eloquently stated “And then, depression sets in…….”. And so the season comes to a close and we all find ourselves with a huge void in our lives, some of us more so than others.

I got to get in shape!

First of all, I would like to thank all the loyal readers of this blog and all the e-mails I get from you with encouraging words and props. If you didn’t read it, I would not write it. I truly enjoy doing this as a hobby and hope to keep you all as readers in the future. We nearly doubled the total page views this year over the first 4 year total! I still need to turn this into something that pays for my retirement without changing the nature of it! Ideas please? Most importantly I want to give thanks to my loving supportive wife Amy, for allowing me to have this hobby. Those lonely nights she spends without her big lug of a husband next to her, sawing logs, and dreaming of tailgate heaven full of endless college football Saturdays, beer n brats, and more fun than anyone should be allowed to have, must be tremendously tough on her. Please understand this hardship that she undertakes. I have come to the realization however, that as long as I don’t interfere with her hobby, which happens to be draining my credit card at the local malls, all will remain good between us! Amy also serves as my second set of eyes before I send out each week’s write up and I am forever grateful to her. This was a Banner year for the Tailgate by all accounts. Below are some of the accomplishments that we achieved:


12 Regular season games attended – (New record)

3 Bowl games attended – (New Record)

8 New Stadiums where I attended a game – (New record)

4 additional D1 A stadiums visited and toured

2 D1 AA Stadiums visited

Personal consumption:

• 99 Bottles of beer consumed – (Weak I know, I could do this in one weekend back in the day)

• 10 Bloody Marys

• 3 flasks of Jamesons

• 32 Bratwurst & other sausage products chowed down

• 25 hamburgers

• 10 chicken sandwiches

• 20 chicken wings and legs

• 10 bags of chips

• Breakfast scramble tailgate (First ever)

160 members that participated in our Tailgates – (New Record)

100,000 pair of boots were viewed – (new record)

1 Table cleared in 2 seconds flat! – World Record

6,000 + new unique page views on this blog (new record)

Recap of the games and tailgates attended:

SEMU at Central Michigan University

Boise State at Michigan State

Wisconsin at Oregon State

Arizona State at California **

Boston College at Army *

Arizona State at Colorado

Utah State at San Jose State

Mississippi State at Alabama

Oregon State at Stanford

Oregon at California

Notre Dame at USC

Army v Navy

Navy v Arizona State (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) **

Wisconsin v Stanford (Rose Bowl)

Notre Dame v Alabama (BCS National Championship)

* Most exciting game watched

** Bargated

It is hard to say which Tailgate was the best this year since they all provided a tremendous amount of entertainment, laughs, fun, camaraderie and great food. I met a lot of great people for the first time in addition to spending time with regular members of the Tailgate and family. It was a magical season for me personally again to follow Notre Dame through the amazing season they had. Boise State had another solid season while rebuilding under Coach Pete. My local team, San Jose State recorded 11 wins for the first time ever. I could not have asked for a greater season. I know I will not be able to duplicate or exceed what I did this year in the future, however I will be attending some great games and venues as the planning is already underway.

Most memorable Tailgate/Game moments 2012:

• Feeding starving CMU students and hydrating them with….H2O Bobby Bouche!

• Sis running out of beer at Michigan State and then square dancing with me

• Storming the field in Corvallis with West Point Wiggins after the Beavs upset the Badgers

• Finding Drubaca on his garage floor after the Cal/ASU game

• Hearing Wiggins and Colonel Voytek Karaoke until 4 AM with a pending 7 AM revelry for the Army – BC game

• Rich Lawson’s tailgate rig and bash at Colorado

• Beating the SJSU Spartan mascot in beer pong and playing flip cup with Reinke and crew

.The Alabama weekend with Alabama Al and Tennessee Tony and Little Boy Blue
• Table clearing incident at Stanford witnessed by DQ, Casty, Rabago, K2, Dru, Reinke, Sweet Lou and Desimone

• Rowdy Randy’s great stand in performance when I was on vacation

• Listening to Trojan Al’s story of USC back in the day and hanging with Fritz “Foster Brooks”, Snooki, the Sitch and the Major

• The whole Army Navy weekend and Tailgate with friends and brothers Brian and Billy

• Finding out I got a BCS championship ticket for face value!

• Lance Corporal Wintersteen making new friends at the Kraft Bowl and inspecting boots

• D Seals getting his ring cut off at the Rose Bowl and grilling something identified only as Meat

• Having the Governor bend my ear until sunrise at the BCS weekend!


Hero of the year at the Tailgate – The father who got the BCS ticket for Christmas

Stain of the year - Pete Carroll (why not?). It was good to see him slink and slither out of Atlanta this week. Sherman he is not!

Coolest New venue I went to - Tossup between Alabama and Army

Hard to beat the setting at West Point

Tailgater of the year - (attended most tailgates with me) - 4 way tie West Point Wiggins, Brother Brian, Wannstedt and Drubaca

Tailgater trophy!

Most bizarre incident – Well this tribute by the Atlanta Rythm Section from the 70”s was quite prophetic for the love story between Manti and Lennay 35 years into the future.

2013 projected Schedule

The Grove at Ole Miss
Death Valley, Clemson

• Northwestern at California (8/31) – Join us if you are local, we will be renting out a parking lot near Peace Park in Bezerkley

• Iowa at Iowa State (9/14) meeting up with the old legend of Laurelglen Tom Byom

• Texas A&M or LSUat Ole Miss (10/12 or 10/19) - A big crew has indicated they want to go to this one. All are welcome…if I allow you and you are cool and popular

• BC at Clemson (TBD) – Sister Patsy and BC Pops’ Tailgate extravaganza with Lobstuh Tails and Prime Rib!

• San Jose State Homecoming game (TBD)

• Boise State Home Game and Tailgate blowout (date tbd) all Boise parents, let’s make it happen this year!

• Undetermined PAC 12 game at a stadium I have not been to (ASU, UoA, WSU, OU or Utah) on a week night only

• Notre Dame at Stanford (Thanksgiving Weekend)

• Army Navy

• Kraft Bowl

• Unknown BCS Bowl:

Here is an extremely worthwhile charity from an American hero and big time college football fan Colonel Willy Buhl, USMC. Colonel Buhl is the Commanding Officer of the USMC Wounded Warrior Regiment. The link is below and there is a tab if you would like to help toward the cause:

Hit of the week:

Well that about does it. The white coats are here to take me away as it is intervention time! Have a great off season and you will hear from me in August unless something really big happens…like Spring Football or I visit some cool stadiums…! They are taking me away..ha ha ho ho he he to the funny farm……

I need college football!

Until then,

Happy Tailgating!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Irish Eyes Are Crying

How does one start his script after such an awesome experience in South Florida for the BCS “Ship” despite the ND blowout? Okay, how about this: I think I just participated in an MTV reality show like Real World called The House, where a bunch of characters co-habitat for a period of time. I was hosted by my old college buddy and Rugby Teammate Terry Big T “Family Guy” Kernan in a house he rented for the week in North Miami on the Intercoastal waterway. Joining us in The House were his Brother the former Governor of Indiana Joe Kernan, his South Bend buddy Gregg “Downsy” Downs and another pal Bill “Monsignor” Walsh.  The stories these 3 told about ND football history were beyond captivating. Also in our Reality show house, Terry’s 2 sons Joey and Terry Jr. AKA Stewie and Chris Griffin both Division III football stars, Counselor Mikey Mike Christin, Pete Buttigieg the current Mayor of South Bend, and several others lodged in our palace on the Florida Riviera. 

The Kernan Men

The House, came equipped with a pool and a pond, a pond would be good for you..... and too many rooms to count. It was reminiscent of my college days stumbling into the main gathering room each morning in boxers, scratching body parts, smacking your parched lips, and trying to open your eyes and asking those that were more alert “hey dude, what happened last night?” I learned that the Kartrashians house was one street over in our gated community. Thus, we had a reality TV show war going on and we didn’t even know it.

Talented ladies.....ha!

I have to give major props to our host Big T for going above and beyond all weekend to make sure everyone was well taken care of. I don’t remember him being this considerate back in our college days…but then again there is plenty I don’t remember or choose to forget from those days. After hitting the tarmac at 9 PM Saturday and being picked up by my old college buddy Paul Rip Reutershan we met up with the Kernan/McCarty clan at the local dive bar Flip Burger. Easy Ed McCarty, brother in law to Big T, and his charge were in attendance along with the Kernans. Flip Burger closes at 11 PM. We were finally asked kindly to leave at 1 AM.  Numerous liquid products were no longer in stock in bottle and barrel form when our crew of 12 finally exited. The celebration continued until sunrise talking politics, history, war and football with Big T and the Governor.  Paul was sleepy and decided to tuck in early. I learned that the Governor is a genuine American hero having served his country during Vietnam as a Naval Aviator. His plane was shot down over North Vietnam in 1972 and he was held prisoner by the North Vietnamese for 11 months.  Somehow through such a dark experience,  the Governor had us laughing out loud about the few funny things he recalled. Thank you for your service to our country sir! 

Naval Officer Joe Kernan
His twin brother

Sunday was a slow moving day with dips in the pool, lots of Gatorade and other forms of non toxic hydration fluids. I spent time talking with Bill Walsh who I dubbed the Monsignor when I learned he had been a priest for 12 years prior to a successful career in business and doing Don Imus impersonations. Bill travels the globe, chants with monks, plays basketball at age 73, hangs with the Kennedys, used to coach the 49ers and lives in Deadwood, South Dakota.  I am pretty sure he is featured in that HBO Series. 

Bill Walsh
Deadwood's finest!

The clans gathered again at another watering hole to watch our beloved Redskins go down in flames to none other than that detritus of a man known as Pete Carroll. Losing RG III to that gruesome injury was bad enough but watching Pete the Cheat take the credit for the win was beyond nauseating. Go Falcons!

Detritus Carroll slinking in the manure!

Game day started early in The House as host Terry “Big T” made a run to the market for all the provisions for the big tailgate. We loaded up 2 SUVS with people, provisions and plenty of expectations for the day. We arrived at Sun Life stadium and set up shop in lot 5 West about a stone’s throw from the stadium. The weather was low 80's, light humidity and plenty of Florida sunshine. I had to lather up my own Irish Golden Dome with 35 SPF so as to not let it turn crimson on me! Terry’s homemade deli sandwiches were taken down first, followed by grilled burgers, chicken and dogs later on. Plenty of personality in bottles were iced down and enjoyed.  Numerous members of the Kernan/McCarty clan and their friends made up the Tailgate. Fanatical Football fan Steve Koreivo and his son Eric joined us as well as Danville friend Dan Michelini and his crew. Bob Rigny of Rockville, MD and his family unit along with Sean Creamer, also a Rockvillian joined us. All in all, we had in the vicinity of 30 Tailgaters, all rabid ND fans, all with high hopes. 

Dan, EZ Ed, Tailgate Steve

The Guv, Dan Michelini and Friends and Dan

My Host with the most Big T and me honoring the colors!

Skylar, Rocket Ismail and Mikey Mike

Chris and Stewie Griffin

The ESPN Fan Zone adjacent to us featured country music star Luke Bryan cranking out his hit songs. Alabama women were rocking those cowboy boots and jean skirts and smiling so nicely at all the Yankees in the Tailgate lots.

Those boots were made for walking!
The atmosphere during the Tailgate hours leading up to kickoff was more energized than I have ever witnessed. You will not find two teams with a more passionate/knowledgeable fan base than Alabama and Notre Dame. With about an hour before kickoff, we shut down the tailgate, and made our way into the stadium. Sun Life Stadium is home to both the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Hurricanes. It is pretty much near nothing, but there was ample parking for pre game festivities and it holds 80,000+.

Big T, Tailgate Steve K and son Eric
The Kernan/McCarty Clan and friends

Bagpipe Magic!

The million dollar band.

Fans heading into the stadium
Tailgate Steve, Son Eric and Dan

My seat was on the 7 yard line, 21 rows up from the field. Sweetness! The only drawback was that it was in Crimson Tide territory. How would they react to this Yankee heretic who does not believe in the SEC gospel as all football fans should submit to? Would they issue a Fatwa on me? Other than one inebriated fan in front of me who had to be politely asked to not wave his crimson pom pom in my eye or else…, the Bama faithful were kind, courteous and soon to be ecstatic! Bama diehard, Dr Paul Enochs and his wife Jean sat next to me along with Coach Rick Neuheisel and his wife. Of course I had to make a fool of myself and disturb poor Coach Neuheisel and shake his hand as he tried to eat his hot dog. At Halftime with the score 28-0, Doctor Paul felt so bad for me he insisted on buying me a can of liquid gold. I asked him is my prognosis that obvious? Well no need to rehash the game, because most of you watched what I saw. 

Nice Seats dude!

The effects of a long day in the hot sun!

The good Doctor and his wife, Neuhisel visible in the background

The game was lost on the coin toss when ND deferred to the 2nd half to receive. It pretty much went down-hill from there. Half of the air went out of the stadium by the second quarter. Yes there were questionable calls in the first quarter, but I doubt they would have had an impact on the end result. Simply put, that was a beat down in the worst way. Congratulations to Alabama and their dynasty. From those watching it on TV, I heard that Brent Pedoberger provided some of the best entertainment of the night.  Just ask AJ McCarron:

Brent Musberger perving out:

The post game gathering was subdued as we waited out the massive traffic and fired up the grill for more goodies and drank our sorrows away. It didn’t help. Nonetheless, I would not have traded the experience for anything.  I am forever grateful for the ticket that was found for me at face value by Larry Clawz, the lodgings, hospitality and Tailgating provided by Big T, and the new friendships that were made throughout the weekend. Hope to see you all next year in Pasadena!

Bama Celebrates, Irish stunned

Ray Finkle spotted leaving the stadium

Gripe of the week – This has happened to me three times this year, most recently at the BCS championship: NO PROGRAMS AVAILABLE!  Hey I collect gameday programs and look forward to buying one at each and every game I attend. These things become collector’s items over time and are chock full of Cliff Clavenesque tidbits to quench your thirst for CFB knowledge. At the BCS Championship, I set out three hours before the game looking for vendors selling the gameday programs. I could not find any. Apparently there was one in an apparel shop inside the ESPN Fan Zone. I did not have a ticket to that junket so I figured I would get one later when I went in the stadium. I entered the stadium over an hour before kickoff. I traversed the concourse searching high and low, low crawling on the cold concrete, rappelling from the top of the stadium,  hurdling over beer vendors in search of the magical program. Nada. Eventually some dweeb stepped out of an apparel shop announcing that the whole stadium was out of programs.  How could this be? I did not see one person in the stadium with a program and I only knew of one person who bought one. Common sense would tell you that if you have 80,000 + fans you ought to print more than 2,000 programs.  These are keepsakes for crying out loud!  The BCS Orange Bowl people have a lot to learn if they want to get it right.

I will be doing one more write up that will be a season recap and then I will be going into my post season rehab and Jenny Craig programs!

Happy Tailgating!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Roses are Red (special edition)

Another grand opportunity popped up over Christmas break to attend a major Bowl game which was too hard to pass up. It turned out to be an offer to attend the Granddaddy of them all, the incomparable Rose Bowl! Have you ever tried to get up at 4 AM on New year’s Day and ride in a Griswold cruising vessel for 5+hours through methane filled cow fields to restart the party? It would be easier just pulling an all nighter and roll with the punches the next day. As it was, we met up in Danville at 4:45 AM and made the 5 + hour trip south to Pasadena. David “Yo Adrienne” Seals in all his roidness (more on that later) captained the vessel that took us down Interstate 5 to the venerable old stadium. We were joined in the “Shaggin Wagon” by Mark Byron and Ken Croley.  We met up with the other half of our crew at the pre game ritual, Wisconsin diehards Jim McCourt and his fellow cheese heads Dave and Ken.
Yo Adrian, my eyes are swollen!

We set up our tailgate on the dog leg left of the 8th hole of the Brookside Municipal Golf Course adjacent to the Rose Bowl. Seriously, the majority of the Rose Bowl tailgating is done on a nice golf course next to the stadium!  During our festivities the assistant greens keeper was even spotted killing gophers, not golfers otherwise they would have locked him up and thrown away the keys! 

The assistant greens keeper ready to hunt gopher.

The pre game Tailgate menu consisted of Sis’s famous Wisconsin beer brats that were met with approval from our Wisconsin guests, polish sausages and something simply labeled “meat” in a container with marinade provided by Captain Seals. Is anyone missing a family pet or exotic farm animal? 
Mystery Smeat
A bunch of sides including some weird things called vegetables were on display. Adequate amounts of libations were provided and imbibed as well.  No flip cup or beer pong but cornhole was played and country songs were sung and car drivers were yelled at by rent a cops. Right Suburban Dave?

The Motley Crew

The Chefs

Mark the king of bean bag toss AKA corn hole

A little history about the Rose Bowl game:
The tournament of Roses parade began in 1890 in Pasadena, thus was the genesis of what we call the Rose Bowl parade today. In 1902 Pasadena hosted the first Rose Bowl football game pitting Michigan against Stanford.  I am pretty sure Keith Jackson called that game for ABC. The game was such a blowout (49 – 0 in Michigan’s favor) that for the next 13 years the Rose Bowl committee opted to host Chariot races instead of football.  Hence the origins of Keith Jackson’s famous phrase “Whoa Nellie!” has now been uncovered. In 1916 the football game was reintroduced. In most years the game matched a team from the West versus a team from the East/Midwest. Eventually the tradition took hold to match top teams from what are currently the Big 10 and PAC 12 conferences.  In the current BCS format the champion of each of those conferences plays in this game unless they are ranked either #1 or # 2 in the BCS poll and are playing for the national championship.  So there you have it, a history lesson from the Tailgate!

Tickets Please!
It was a beautiful So Cal sunny January day that started off cold, became balmy and ended cold. The Wisconsin Band took the field and performed admirably only to be followed by that joke of a so called Stanford Band. The colors were raised, the anthem sung and we were treated to a B2 Stealth flyover. Man was that ever cool as it was so quiet we did not see it until it was right over us! Many self proclaimed experts including myself did not feel that Wisconsin was worthy of a Rose Bowl invitation as they finished the regular season with 5 losses. Additionally with Penn State and Ohio State ineligible for post season play, it appeared the Badgers got in by default. Nonetheless, the Badgers proved to be up for this most important Bowl Game. The Badgers were coached on this day by former legendary Coach and current AD, Barry Alvarez after the departure of Coach “Curly” Bulimia to the land of Wal Mart Nation.  Barry stepped in for a one game only assignment netting a cool $119 large. Stanford was anchored by a well balanced team on both sides of the ball featuring Danville’s All American Zach Ertz and rising star Quarterback Kevin Hogan and the beast of a linebacker Shane Skov. Stanford overpowered Wisconsin on its first 2 drives taking a 14 – zip lead before the Badgers got their creek legs and introduced a steady diet of Ball, Montee Ball that is. Additionally, the Badger defense sturdied itself and held Stanford to only 2 field goals for the next 40 minutes. The game came down to a potential game winning drive by Wisconsin when the Badger QB threw an INT with 2 minutes left and down by 6.  The Tree hung on to win earning their first Rose Bowl win since 1982.

The B-2 Stealth flyover!

Puff Daddy and Jim McCourt

Dan and a puffier Dave

Wisconsin on the move
The most interesting part of the game however, was cocktailing in the first aid station during halftime and the 3rd quarter with Compadre David Seals. David had a nice Benadryl IV cocktail while I swirled my $10 Miller Lite in the room of the passed out amateurs. You see David had an allergic reaction to a macadamia nut several days prior to the game and was treated with steroids.  The problem is he also had an allergic reaction to the steroids that made his hands and face swell up. I told him he got screwed because he should have opted for the flavor that puffs up your biceps and shoulders. As it was, his ring finger swelled up so badly he lost circulation in his hand. The EMT’s cut off his ring to avoid the pressure. Now some people will go to elaborate lengths to explain to their spouse how they lost their wedding rings but this was ingenious. David, I will support you on this so long as you keep making those payments! Nonetheless the EMT’s did a great job treating David and we returned to our seats before the end of the 3rd quarter. Others in the aid station remained fast asleep. Never a dull moment in the web of fun at the Tailgate.

Did you just cut my wedding ring off dude?

Rocky after the big fight!
In other games, the Orange Bowl was as bad as predicted however the Sugar Bowl was a major upset with Louisville pounding the mighty Florida Gators in Nawlins. The Northwestern Wildcats got Bonzo off their back with their first Bowl win since 1949 trouncing Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. In fact, many of the nerd schools (I say that endearingly) did well in Bowls this years with NW, Stanford, Vandy and Rice all securing cracker jack prizes. Only Duke fell to a lesser educated squad. The Ole Ball coach and the Gamecocks knocked off Michigan and Dennard in the Outback Bowl. In the Chick Fil A Bowl a cat fight broke out with the Clemson Tigerz clawing their way to victory over the Bayeux Bengals.  By the way, Chick Fil A is my all time favorite fast food joint, just look at my T&E receipts. In the Citrus Bowl UGA turned the Cornhuskers into compost and planted them in the Turf.  The Fiesta Bowl turned out to be a one sided affair as the Ducks form Eugene flew by the Wildcats of Manhattan and captured the Arizona crystal.

Post game festivities.
Okay, so now I am off to the tanning salon and Brazilian waxing shop to ready myself for the big trip to South Beach.  All packed, I have my speedo, flip flops, sunscreen and Notre Dame T's in the bag!!!!

Ready for South Beach!
 Happy Tailgating!