Sunday, August 25, 2013

4 Days until the first kickoff

Major audible called. Due to a change in plans, the Tailgate is being diverted to Nashville,TN for the Vanderbilt home opener on Thursday night against Ole Miss. We are sorry to leave Tailgate regular West Point Wiggins holding the bag to storm the gates of UConn by his lonesome. Joining me in Nashville will be Alabama Al from Birmingham and ASU diehard Kevin O’Connor. If anyone has tailgating tips for Vandy, by all means offer them up.

Game Day Experiences

What makes a truly great college football game day experience? I am often asked, “What is the coolest place I have been to for a college football game?” That is as hard as deciding on the prettiest girl I have ever seen. However, my beer goggles make em all bewts….oh sorry, Mrs.Tailgate is editing this. Only one honey. The one true ingredient required to grab my attention is atmosphere. Atmosphere has many ingredients, but let’s look at the contributing elements.

Unfettered Tailgating such as it is in much of the SEC and Big 10 is a must. What I mean by this is not all these campus or local laws restricting when,where and how you tailgate. Many schools will bust college kids for underage drinking in the tailgate area. Many tailgate lots force you to shut down by kickoff and allow no post game partying. What I like about the big time schools in the south or the Midwest is that the party starts the night before and never stops on game day should you so choose. No restrictions on alcohol,grills,times or locations.The entire campus should open up on game day and become one nice celebration. Yes the high dollar boosters and VIP ticket holders should get the best spots near the stadium. I have no problem with that. However, there are some schools that only allow these people to park on campus and everyone else needs to find some lot off campus. I love seeing vehicles all tricked out for the sole purpose of tailgating such as old school buses, RVs and pure tailgate rigs. I also look for originality in what is being cooked up on the grill, as well as tent set ups and serving displays.

A real tailgate
I would ride this bus


Traditions and the fan base: I applaud schools with great traditions and history that build on the game day experience. Whether it is an on campus hall of fame, the players doing the walk of champions to the stadium, a chant or song that is indigenous to that school, all are fueled by a passionate fan base that appreciates and understands the history and traditions of their team. These fans can tell you how many Conference and National Titles they have won. They will recite their Heisman Trophy winners and All -Americans, and what happened the last 10 times their school met that day’s opponent. They will also greet you with the proper salutation unique to that school such as someone at Michigan State saying “Go Green!” and the response being “Go White!”

Next is the venue itself. I will immediately like a venue better if it is on Campus. This adds to the excitement and uniqueness that is college football. Off Campus stadiums typically lack the same student body experience you get when the Cathedral sits smack dab in the middle of campus where students roll out of their frat houses and dorms and onto the pre-game festivities. I also loathe domes. Domes are artificial. College football is real. They don’t mix. Also, if a team shares the facility with a pro team, that takes away from the individuality of the stadium. I prefer real grass. All weather turf fields are cheesy. So the worst possible venue is something like Tulane where the stadium is an off campus dome and shared with the Saints. No atmosphere, indoor, turf, little fan support and a crappy venue. No pun intended as it did serve as the city’s latrine after hurricane Katrina.

A real facility

Hurricane Latrina Facility


I give extra credit for a school having something that is unique. Whether it is the blue Smurf Turf in Boise, the Volunteer Navy in Tennessee, Touchdown Jesus in South Bend, Howard’s Rock at Clemson, the Midnight Yell and the 12th Man at A&M, Fly Overs at the Service Academies, the Hound’s Tooth Hat at Bama, Ralphie the Buffalo storming the field in Boulder, Hotty Toddy in the Grove at Ole Miss, the Sooner Schooner traversing Gaylord stadium, "Chief Osceola" and his horse Renegade riding to mid field and planting the spear, Traveler the white Spanish Andalusian horse who is ridden by a student in a Trojan costume around the coliseum, 100,000 strong singing “Hang on Sloopy” in the Horseshoe. You get what I mean by now.

John Paul Jones and Davey Crockett would be proud
Last is the Marching Band and Mascots. Nothing beats a real student body marching band taking the field before the game and at halftime pumping out catchy tunes. Just as importantly is hearing them play throughout the game from their section. I abhor piped in trendy music over the PA system when there is a live band on hand to get it all going on for me. Alabama’s $ Million Dollar Band, USC’s classic band (cheerleaders are purported to be adequate), ND Bands pumping out the Irish fight song after each score, the Maize and Blue instrumentalists piping out the Michigan fight song, and of course, no team is complete without a cool entertaining mascot. A Leprechaun, Sparty, Uga, Colonel Reb, the Tide Elephant, the Bruin, Pistol Pete, an Eagle and a Duck, a Turtle, Brutus the Buckeye, and a Wildcat. Yes, Stanford is an absolute disgrace to this. Their lame PC mascot (A freakin tree) and irreverent joke of a band are not funny or amusing. Simply put, I find no humor in Nerds. Good team though.

Follow the Leprechaun

The girls next door

So, if I was an Athletic Director of the offenders of my designs, I would take my advice to heart and make these changes. Otherwise, your school or conference will always be second tier to the true college football game day experience. Some of the best game day experiences that I have participated in, in no particular order:

Notre Dame, LSU, Alabama, Army, USC and Ohio State.

Some of the worst based on my criteria (I have not been to these):

Tulane, South Florida, Temple, Pitt, UConn and San Diego State.

Weekly Beiber Award

This week’s Beebs trophy goes to the NCAA for initially denying a Combat Veteran the right to play this year at Middle Tennessee State University. You see, 24 year old Steven Rhodes, a Marine and Veteran of the war in Afghanistan played in an intramural league while on active duty. Seems that the pampered elitists in the ivory tower of the NCAA who don’t know what it is like to serve their country took exception to this activity. So they decided to rule him ineligible for this year since after all that is the equivalent of transferring from one FBS team to another. I think they need to attend sensitivity training. Since there was such a massive public outcry, the NCAA has rescinded their ruling and is allowing Mr. Rhodes to play this year. Thank you for serving our country Marine and good luck on the gridiron!

USMC, UMTSU Steven Rhodes,
Mega Props to Boston College Fan Pops Leblanc for spreading the word of this blog to 600 hundred of his closest CFB fanatical friends. If each of you could do the same and forward on to fellow CFB and tailgating junkies, it will be greatly appreciated. I need the viewership!

Rick and Pops hosting a Tailgate on the hill at BC

Don’t forget to submit your picks in the comments section below for the 2 featured games this week to win a free DFT T-shirt.

Pick the score of the game of the week: (Winner wins a DFT T- shirt) Use the comment section below to submit

  • Cal v Northwestern - Primary game

  •  U Conn v Towson State - Secondary game 
Also, if you want to play in my Yahoo College Football Pickem, the instructions are down on the lower left of the blog. No money, just fun and a chance to win a T Shirt at the end of the season. There are polls on the left side as well. Vote for your favorite team, favorite stadium and Heisman pick.

Happy Tailgating!