Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tomahawk Chopped

Sheer Mayhem at the BCS!
The Tailgate was fortunate enough to attend its third National Championship in 5 years. I returned to the Rose Bowl venue a mere five days after leaving it on New Year’s Day. Tailgate Tony scored tix at face value that put me on the 45 yard line, 35 rows up. Not bad for someone who collected coke bottles for coin as a kid! We met up with Chris “The Camster” Desimone and his Bride for pre-game festivities. I was adorned in my FSU ball cap having people believe I was on the side of the CrimaNoles. Who knew Frostburg State University would represent at the National Championship? Because our crew flew in, we did not have Tailgate gear, so I was not able to prepare any Iron Chef Tailgate Chow. In and around the stadiums were more food vendors than Florida State fans. We had no shortage of choices including bacon wrapped dogs, brats and teriyaki bowls. We even managed to recreate the fleeing mob scene from Empire of The Sun as we got sucked into the vortex of the throng of Auburn worshippers as the players arrived in their busses. Was not sure we would get out unscathed.

Camster, Cheryl and Tony

We found a Boomer Sooner Tailgating

Curly, Mo & Larry

Near death experience as the busses arrived
Once in the stadium it was evident that the color orange would outnumber Seminole red two to one. Even Sir Charles Barkley was there to support War Eagle. Throughout the first half, you would have thought you were at Jordan Hare as Auburn raced out to a 21-3 lead. QB Nick Marshall and Heisman finalist Tre Mason were unstoppable and Jameis Winston looked like he was as scared as King Henry’s taster sipping his potentially poisoned wine for him.

Orange from the Rose Bowl to the San Gabriel Mountains

By the end of the half, Jaemis momentarily collected himself and drove the Noles for their first TD of the game. The Noles were still facing an 11 point deficit. Coach Jimbo Fisher fresh out of ideas on how to motivate his team called in our old Buddy Marshall Mathers III to speak to his team in the locker room and remind them that this was their one shot:

With that proper motivation at halftime, the Nole defense tightened up in the third holding Auburn scoreless while the Jameis led offense could only muster up a field goal narrowing the Tiger lead to 8. As we all know now, the fourth quarter was one for the ages. Florida State scored a TD early in the fourth to cut the previously insurmountable lead to 1 point. The cry of “War Eagle” in the Bowl was now being replaced with the Tomahawk Chop. With just under five minutes left, Auburn kicked a field goal to stretch the lead to four. Incredulously, a number of people in our section left the stadium to beat the traffic. They are this week’s Beiber winners! FSU, responded with a kick return for a TD only to allow Auburn to orchestrate a lengthy drive culminating in a beautiful Tre Mason touchdown run with 1:19 left on the clock. What a swing of the pendulum! Guess what, the game was not over. Famous Jameis aka J Wizzle showed the world why he is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner by leading the Noles to a game winning Touchdown in spectacular fashion. The Orange disappeared as quickly as a politician after signing a tax hike bill. Final score of the last BCS Championship game: FSU 34 – Auburn 31.

We are the Champions ...of the world!

Game over, season over!

Florida State finally broke apart the SEC Monopoly on the BCS Championship after seven years.  Those that forced Bobby Bowden into early retirement a few years back now look prophetic and wise. However, Kudos to Auburn Coach Malzahn for turning around a train wreck of a team he inherited last year and took them to within 3 points of a National Championship. I predict the NFL will be calling the boy genius by next year.

The season is over for the Tailgate so here are a few highlights from this magical season:

  • 20 FBS games attended – All time record for the Tailgate
  • 8 new stadiums attended – (Vanderbilt, Iowa State, Utah, Ole Miss, Clemson, University Louisiana Lafayette, Kent State and Auburn)
  • Too many tailgates attended and hosted to recount and too many people to remember
  • Witnessed some of the best games of the year – Ole Miss v Vandy, UCLA v Utah, LSU v Ole Miss, Georgia v Auburn, Navy v SJSU, Rose Bowl, BCS Championship
  • Increased Blog traffic by over 10,000 views this season. (record season).
  • Dash gated, car gated, bar gated and text gated.
  • Sold 45 DFT T Shirts. (Thank you for the charity!)
  • Special thanks to the following Tailgate hosts:
    • Tom Byom, Bill and Pam Skacaz in the Corn Fields at Iowa State
    • Pops, Peg, Rick and Cilla at Clemson
    • The Fee Family and Rodney for the Friday night bash in Greenvillle, SC
    • Brian and Francie Wilkinson in the Grove at Ole Miss
    • Dr. Matt Sheffield in the Tiger Den at Auburn
    • Coach Troy Wingerter of ULL for the sideline passes

 Next season’s plans are well underway. Some of the new venues we are planning on attending games at:

  • University of South Carolina - Cockaboose gatin
  •  University of Georgia - Between the hedges
  • University of Oregon – Drown the Ducks
  • University of Tennessee – Boatgating with the Vol Navy
  • Arizona State University – Notre Dame gathering
  • Wake Forest University – Gathering of BC supporters
  • Either Nebraska or Iowa – Reunion of the children of the corn

Tailgate Beiber of the year goes to all the neutered males out there that made excuses to not join us at one of the many Tailgates this year. Instead you went shopping for curtains and baby shower gifts with your wives, or you participated in a scrapbooking exercise with the ladies, or hosted a neighborhood progressive wine and cheese party on a Saturday afternoon. Yeah you know who you are. I am calling you all out. Football season was designed for men to exercise their manness. It is our birthright and it is expected. If you prefer I don’t call you out next year, just man up and get on my dance card now and stick to the commitment. Oh yeah, you don’t need to ask your wife or girlfriend for permission, you tell her what you are doing. That is how it is done here at DFT HQ, right dear?

I want to once again thank all of you for your e-mails and comments of encouragement for me to continue writing about this journey I am on. Because of your support, I am considering writing a book one day after I have watched a game in every stadium. I also want to thank Mrs. Tailgate and the Tailgatettes for allowing me to partake in my time consuming hobby/obsession. So as is the case every year at this time, I must say goodbye until the next season is upon us. With that I bid you adieu with this little diddy:


Happy Tailgating!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bowl Seaon - Part Deux

The Rose Bowl experience – As previously mentioned, I would be attending the Rose Bowl Parade and Game with my Nephew Nate, a sophomore at MSU. I loaded up the Griswold wagon on New Year’s Eve with all the necessary Tailgating gear for an awesome experience and headed South down I-5. Halfway to LA I was informed that Nate missed his connection in Chicago and would not arrive until game day after the Parade, or maybe he wouldn’t. So with Mr. Murphy firmly entrenched in our plans, we had some uncertainty to deal with. At 5:30 AM on New Year’s Day Mr. Murphy left us as I received a text from Nate indicating he got the last standby seat on a flight to LA and would arrive at 10:15.  Upon pickup and providing refreshments for my nephew, we jetted over to Pasadena and had the Tailgate up and running by 11:30 AM.  We set up in Lot 10 on the Brookside Golf Course a few Tiger Woods drives away from the stadium. We were joined by the Big Cat Mihailo Panovich and his family who did make the parade. Food was prepared in advanced by Mrs. T for me to just toss on the grill and not overcook. We chowed down on “Fowl Thing” sandwiches which are made with boneless, skinless chicken pieces marinated in teriyaki, grilled and smothered in swiss cheese and topped off with grilled pineapples on a bun. The usual kielbasa was prepared as an appie. Feeling generous, we located our friends the Haberl’s who had hiked six miles from the Parade to meet us and fed them sandwiches and beverages. They looked like they had just survived the Bataan death march.

A misplaced Wildcat and his Pride
The Nephew working for his food!
Enjoying New Year's Day Tailgate chow

The weather was near perfect at 73 degrees with blue skies and no wind. The only thing that could make this day any better would be to have Keith Jackson do the color commentary “Whoa Nellie!” Nate headed to the rowdy student section and I met up with Steve the Spartan fan who I bought my ticket from and we headed into the stadium. This was the 100th rendition of the “Granddaddy of Them All” in the old venerable stadium. No flyover this year due to sequestration, but I hope our CIC is having a great three week vacation in Hawaii on our dime!  Once inside the gate, we searched for our game program but were informed they were all sold out. A young lady named Bo who worked for the Rose Bowl, noticed our anguish and said she would locate two for us. She followed through and we at Tailgate Nation are forever grateful to her. My seat was in section 16, row 77 in the midst of Spartan nation. Many characters were in my immediate section who I made fast friends with. One gentleman adorned in a green sparty cape was so inebriated I thought he was speaking in tongues.  Perhaps he was.

Go Green! Go White!
My new Besties

The game featured two of the top defenses in the nation known for their hard nose, hard hitting old school styles. MSU would be without senior defensive Captain Max Bulloch who was suspended for the game. We still don’t know what his transgression was. Stanford behind Cool Hand Kevin Hogan jumped out to a 10 - 0 lead. The MSU faithful who had not witnessed a Rose Bowl since Reagan was President were distraught. However, magic was in the air as Sparty came back to knot things up at 17 at halftime. The second half was one of the more impressive defensive showings I have witnessed in my lifetime as the Spartans held the Cardinal in check.  Stanford was stuffed on fourth and one, on their final drive in an attempt to take the lead sealing the victory for Spartacus. Final score MSU 24 – Stanford 20. We departed for parts North satisfied that we had just experienced and incredible outing.

Green on the move

Christmas tree colors

In other BCS Bowl action:

Sugar Bowl – How Sweet it is – Everyone likes to see the underdog pull out an improbable victory unless you are the concubine of Goliath and think David has little man’s complex and small hands, or you laid down 5 large on Tyson to knock out Buster Douglas in the first round. Even better yet, if you are the Premier of the Soviet Union in 1980 watching the Semi-final Hockey match between the USSR and the USA. The remaining populace, the 99%ers are always rooting for the little guy. Such was the case when BCS Bob Stoops led the Sooners against two time defending National Champion Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. In Tailgate Headquarters this game had special meaning as #2 will be attending Sooner U next fall. The size of Alabama and their recent success & experience under Coach Nasty Nicky would lead any sane man or woman to believe OU had as much chance as Luxembourg holding off the Third Reich during WWII. However, in this season of BCS bowl game upsets it was not to be Alabama’s night. It was however Trevor’s Knight, as the OU Frosh QB led Boomer Sooner to the biggest upset in BCS Bowl history. Knight threw for over 300 yards and four TD’s. The Sooner defense that can’t tackle did however put pressure on AJ McCarron-Webb throughout the game forcing him to throw to things other than his receivers.  Final score: OU 45 – Bama 31. OU fans smitten with the win were heard saying: “after all they did let Forest Gump in their school, how good can they be?”

Oh AJ, I thought you were a winner. Do you have T Knight's #?
A group of Sooner pranksters in our hood after the Sugar Bowl.
Fiesta Bowl Upset – George O’Leary and the Central Florida Golden Knights were thrilled to be in their first BCS Bowl as were the heavily favored Big 12 Champs the Baylor Bears. Most people felt UCF was undeserving as their conference, the new AAC is widely regarded as a joke for an automatic qualifying conference. It turns out the joke was on us. UCF raced out to an early lead and never looked back. The Bear defense was clawless as the Knights racked up 52 points and won by 10.

Orange – Last time Ohio State and Clemson played in 1978 in the Gator Bowl, Woody Hayes punched a Clemson player and his storied career as the Buckeye coach came to an abrupt halt. Had Woody been alive this time around we may have seen the same result. Senior Tahj Boyd and the fighting Tigers upended the favored scarlet and gray squad 40-35 squeezing the juice out of Urban and the Buckeye Nation. It was reported that a fist came out of the grave by the headstone of one Wayne Woodrow Hayes that night. Charlie Bauman wherever you are, beware!

RIP Woody...Please?

Other Bowl Action –
Armed Forces – Navy 24 –MTSU 6
Music City – Ole Miss 25 – GA Tech 17
Alamo – Oregon 30 –Texas 7 (Remember the Alamo Mack)
Holiday – Texas tech 37 – Arizona State 23
V100 – Arizona 42 – Boston College 19
Sun – UCLA 42- VA Tech 12
Liberty – Mississippi State steam rolls Rice 44 -7
Chic Fil A – Texas A&M and Johnny Miracle 52 – Duke 48
Gator – Nebraska 24 – Georgia 19
Heart of Dallas – North Texas 36 – UNLV 14
Outback – LSU steaks out a win 21-14 over Iowa
Capital One – South Carolina 34 – Wisconsin 24
Cotton – Another Poke Choke as Mizzou takes down Oklahoma State 41-31.
Compass – Vandy 41 – Houston 24

The BC Faithful
One happy Cornhusker

Congratulations to the North Dakota State Bison for winning their third straight FCS Championship over the Towson State Tigers. I want to give special Props to Coach Craig Bohl for sticking around until the season ended after he accepted the head coaching job at Wyoming a month ago. He did it the right way not abandoning his team like so many other coaches have done once they accept a new job. His players felt that he was not turning his back on them and they played their hearts out for him. Job well done.

Cousin Bison Bobby and his Babes at the FCS Ship in Frisco, TX
Beiber Award – To the fans that get so inebriated at a BCS Bowl game that they miss all the action. I ran into quite a few of these folks in Pasadena who either spent their own coin or Daddy’s to spring for an expensive ticket only to have no memory of ever being there. One guy prior to the game could not even stand on his own two feet. Look, I am no teetotaler and I enjoy a cold beverage or two at the Tailgate, but when you attend a big game with meaning it is better to be alert and sober.  You don’t want to be THAT GUY! 

Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son!
Next up – I will be heading back down to Pasadena Monday for the BCS National Championship game. Joining me will be Pauley Walnuts and Cam Tucker. I have my FSU cap already (Frostburg State University).

Happy Tailgating!