Monday, September 30, 2019

Logan's Run

Under the ominous skies of Northern Utah stood two brave souls or fools.

After several failed attempts to hit the school that Merlin Olsen built, I finally made the trek to the promised land of Logan, Utah. The Utah State Aggies were hosting the Colorado State Rams in a Mountain West Classic matchup below the watchful eyes of the Wasatch Mountain Range. I landed at SLC and was picked up by Danvillian and long-time buddy Irish Mike Iorio who happens to be an Eye Tallion. With 100% chance of thunderstorms and cold temps, we were well prepared in the clothing and liquid provisions department. We made a quick detour to the tailgate lot at the University of Utah to visit our Tailgate Connect Host, the legendary Pig Bus Tailgate as they were starting up for their game against Wazzu. We chatted with Ryan Lufkin and Wubby, the two main organizers of the Pig Bus. They have a legit setup and I can’t wait to return and hang out for a day with them.  We were then on our way for the 90- minute run to Logan. 
With Ryan Lufkin of Pig Bus fame
But before I get to that, Friday Night Lights had me watching the mighty Monte Vista Mustang Defense hold the Livermore Cowboys to a mere 3 points and less than 50 yards of total offense with a 26-3 win. Next up for the Stangs is national power De LaSalle this Friday night in Danville, CA.
Now back to the land that Joseph Smith envisioned, and Brigham Young secured.  On this cool, wet early fall day under the banner of heaven, football was meant to be played and tailgating was meant to happen. Or in our case, the lightning and thunder forced us to dash-gate in Mike’s truck for a little pre- game heater. Kickoff was delayed 30 minutes, so more time for liquid courage. Among the three D1A schools in Utah, USU has the second biggest LDS influence with the party scene for tailgating being very mild compared to Utah which is raucous and entertaining. 
Dash gating, planting the banner, modeling big n tall wet weather gear and wide eyed cfb fanatics
Merlin Olsen field at Maverik Stadium (formerly Romney Stadium) was built on this location in 1968. Merlin Olsen is not only considered the greatest Aggie to grace the gridiron in Logan, he is one of the greatest players ever in the history of the NFL and he went on to star as Father Murphy for years on TV. The stadium is horseshoe shaped with an athletic facility bordering the north end zone and press boxes and chair back seats on the west side. The east side of the stadium is built right into the mountain. Current seating capacity is 25,500. On this chilly night with steady rains, 20,000 + braved the elements to cheer on their Aggies. The student section and band were most impressive as they were visible, loud and energetic throughout the whole game. Our seats which we chose not to sit in were on the east side upper level, however we poached a much nicer view. Stadium concessions included Chick fil A and hideaway flasks of Woodford Reserve. They paired nicely together as the Elders frowned down upon us.

The mystical Father Murphy
Although the Rams of Colorado State were decidedly underdogs, they came out firing on all cylinders in the first half. Their defense was stout with two interceptions and one of them for a pick six off of USU QB Jordan Love. The teams traded scores throughout the first half with the Ram pass defense leading the charge for CSU and stout USU running back Gerold Bright running roughshod over the Rams. The Aggies nudged ahead in the cold steady rain to take a lead into halftime 24-21. By the second half with the rain coming down harder, the Aggies buckled down on defense and held the Rams to one field goal while their own offense kicked a field goal of their own along with scoring a touchdown. Final score Utah State 34, Colorado State 24. Back to our lodgings in Brigham City to endure one of the worst pizzas ever prepared (Pizza Hut tweaker pizza) along with a few suds to watch the very late games.
The venerable Maverik Stadium
Up and at it at O dark thirty on Sunday to head to Denver to complete my tri-level trifecta weekend of attending a high school, college and pro game. Irish Mike, who is Italian if you forgot kicked me to the curb at SLC international and away I flew through ominous skies over the Wasatch and Rockies for the next stop on the tour to Denver. Former neighbor Craig scored free tix to the Broncos v Jaguars game improving upon what we originally thought would just be going to a great tailgate. We Ubered into Lot N on the south side of the stadium to partake in another Tailgate Connect tailgate with Mike Koele and the Sons of Mile High Tailgate.

Host extraordinaire Mike Koele presenting me with the Fireball cup
What a time we had and what a set up they have. Mike has a trailer, a bar, a party bus, multiple tents and games such as Buzzball, D Darts and Dual Ring Daddy along with Beer pong and the Beerzilla contraption. The chow for the day consisted of multiple pots of different types of chili with all the fixings and bags of fritos, cheetos, chips, and the chili was put directly into the chip bags and mixed up. Not only is this a great idea, it was absolutely delicious. I had three helpings along with several Tecates, a jello shot and fireball from the shot ski. We met a family from Australia that found the tailgate through my Tailgate Connect website. I even played Dual Ring Daddy with their 10 year old kid.
Mike and his crew are well known in the Mile High City and throw an outstanding tailgate. There was even a bachelor party in attendance via Tailgate Connect. After several hours of meeting new friends, playing all the games and reveling, we trekked into our seats in the shade in Empower Field at Mile High Stadium. 
The Fireball tent, King Craig in his throne, Buzzball and the Aussie family

Fireball shot ski, WWF legends, pre-gaming with Gardner Minshew and Chili in a pouch
The Broncos were coming into the game at 0-3 and the Jaguars were 2-1 led by the newest NFL sensation, QB Gardner Minshew, AKA Uncle Ricco (from Napoleon Dynamite). On this amazing Indian summer afternoon, the Broncos were up to the challenge in the first half by dominating all facets of the game. Only to relinquish the lead in the second half and ultimately the game when Uncle Ricco led the Jags on a game winning drive resulting in a field goal. Jacksonville stud running back Leonard Fournette ran for over 200 yards on the day. Post- game transport was one of the most exciting things I have done in a while outside of tailgating; I experienced my first electric scooter Lime ride from the stadium back to my hotel three miles away. Thus I became an honorary snowflake and will soon be sporting a man bun and hanging out in coffee shops. Much to what most people would have predicted, I made it home without a scratch or an accident. Now as for the people that had to dive out of my way along the route, they were not as fortunate.
I feel the need..the need for a man bun! 

Around the country
IN ESPN’s over hyped game of the week, they forgot that Nebraska today is not Nebraska of the Tom Osborne era. Totally outmatched, they experienced a thunderous beatdown at the hands of The (not trademarked) Ohio State Buckeyes in Lincoln. Notre Dame did not fall into the proverbial trap game trap, and handled their business against the visiting UVA Wahoos in South Bend. The Irish Defense is for real this year. Out west in Seattle, the UW Huskies took care of the USC Trojans and their latest starting QB 28-14. Oklahoma and a deadly Jalen Hurts absolutely destroyed Texas Tech. Almost as impressive as Jalen is Oklahoma’s Defense holding the high powered Red Raiders Offense to sixteen points. Despite what the mindless talking heads are saying, Mac Brown made the wrong decision when UNC had a chance to take Clemson to overtime. Instead of kicking the extra point to tie, forgetful Mac for whatever reason went for a two-point conversion and the win in regulation and failed. He could have played the percentages in overtime and knocked off the nation’s top ranked and might I say overrated team. Lowly Arkansas nearly knocked off another overrated team in Texas A&M in a neutral site game at Jerry World in Arlington, TX. 
Pops Leblanc back off the IR in action with Rick Gagne and the Eagle Tailgaters of BC

The big ugly Brian Donnelly with the Penn State Big Uglies 

The lovely Suzanne Castelein with her new hometown team Vanderbilt
Bieber- D’erika Queen- Our latest ittle Diva has emerged on the stage of snowflakedness in dramatic fashion. Houston Cougars starting QB D’erika Queen, aka D’ Eriq King has decided after four games to quit on her teammates in her senior season and put into play the newish dangerous redshirt rule that allows you to redshirt after playing up to four games. Not only has the Queen decided to utilize the rule, she was first rumored to be transferring to another school for her fifth year as a graduate transfer. However, after much heat, she along with her top wideout have stated they will be back next year. Why, just because you started the season 1-3? No amount of defending this situation will sway me. This is purely and simply the most selfish behavior a so-called team leader can exhibit. He quit on his team and in doing so is stating they are not good enough for him.  This new redshirt rule should be limited to freshman and players with injuries. This is a dangerous precedent and the copycats will soon follow. I do not get nor will I endorse or sympathize with this prickish, selfish act just because things were not going her way. I challenge you to change my mind! Well you selfish, entitled little lady, enjoy your Bieber hardware!  DO NOT CALL LINCOLN RILEY, NO VACANCIES AT THE INN!
Ginger - (Badass) - This one is easy. It borders on stupidity, but after much elaboration, the award goes to Mike Iorio and me for being the only idiots that would drive into the stormy mountains of northern Utah to brave the nasty, miserable elements and watch a game with two random teams. We had a damn good time doing it and we felt badass in our four layers of clothing enjoying the cold rain bouncing off us. Mrs. Tailgate says it best below in the screen capture.

Next Week - Another tri-level; College game at the University of South Alabama at the historic Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile on Thursday night, Monte Vista High School at home Friday night and the Cleveland Browns at the San Francisco 49ers Monday night. This is to properly prep for the following epic weekend at LSU.
Happy Tailgating!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Dan From the Couch 2019

My much-anticipated weekend on the couch turned out be just what the doctor ordered. First up however was Friday Night Lights as the Monte Vista Mustangs traveled to Oakland to play Bishop O’Dowd. Pre game festivities took place at the legendary Ricky’s sports bar as I was the lone Pom Dad representative in a den of Football Dads. As one of the guy’s stated so profoundly “Dan is a Football Dad trapped in a Pom Dad’s body”. The local CBS affiliate came in and interviewed us on our thoughts about Antonio Brown. Apparently, I was too damn handsome as they cut my interview out. 

O’Dowd was coached by former NFL players Napoleon Kauffman and “Touchdown” Tommy Vardell. Monte Vista dominated the game and won 27-3. Upon returning home, I poured a nice glass of red to watch a recorded game of Boise State on the blue, in a stadium black out while they beat Airforce dressed in gray.

Monte Vista D slaying the Dragons!

Up and at it early Saturday for ESPN Gameday. Three great feature stories, one on Wisconsin All American running back Jonathan Taylor, one on UGA QB Jake Fromm and the last on Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson who just lost his wife to cancer. The latter brought a tear to my eye. Damn that Tom Rinaldi!  One of the most anticipated matchups of the week turned into a contest of the strong versus the weak as Wisconsin absolutely thrashed Michigan. They were drinking old fashions and eating cheese curds in Madison Saturday night. Are Harbooger’s days numbered at Michigan? I cooked up a mess of Brian Donnelly’s “Famous Old Bay Wings” and slid into the afternoon games in between grazing, napping and grabbing an occasional adult beverage. Texas A&M v Auburn was a snoozer with Auburn dominating in College Station and winning by 8, but it was not that close. Pitt upset the 2017 National Champions (Just ask them.) UCF in a thriller at Heinz field. In the battle for the Iron Skillet, SMU bested TCU to improve to 4-0 on the season.

Outstanding foul chow!

The fun really began with the third set of games as I switched from lagers to dark red vino. Both pared well with the wings. Mrs. Tailgate’s Cowpokes gave the Horns all they could handle in Austin but came up six shy of a tie. The game of the week did not disappoint as the Notre Dame fighting Irish traveled to Athens, GA to play between the hedges in Sanford stadium. The first half was as physical of a game as we have seen all year with ND doing a great job in bottling up the high-powered Dawg offense. The second half saw the UGA size and strength start to wear down the Irish on both sides of the trenches. Down 6, ND had the ball and a chance to engineer a game winning drive but it was not to be. Final score UGA 23-17. In a nod to my annoying neighbor John the UCLA Bruin fan, the most exciting game of the day perhaps took place in the Palouse. Wazzu was up by a comfortable margin of 32 in the third quarter. “Not so fast my friend”, as UCLA pulled out one of the most unimaginable comebacks and ended up notching their first win of the season by a final tally of 67-63. Combined yardage for both teams was about a mile with Washington State QB Anthony Gordon throwing for a school record of nine touchdowns.  A shout out to San Jose State for traveling to Fayetteville, AR and beating a SEC West team. I guess Arky can at least now go chant SEC for the rest of their conference as this was as bad of a loss as Tennessee’s loss to Georgia State earlier this season.

Scenes from the various chairs and couches throughout the day

Bieber - The Cal Bears traveled to Oxford, MS to take on the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday. The Bears were up by eight with fifteen seconds remaining with Ole Miss driving. Ole Miss caught what appeared to be a touchdown only to have the refs mark the ball just short of the goal line with the clock ticking toward zero. Ole Miss barely got the snap off in a futile attempt to run the ball in only to be denied and awarding Cal the victory. The pass should have absolutely been reviewed and the clock stopped on the previous play. Whether or not the Ole Miss receiver was in is not the bigger issue here. A play of that magnitude at that time being that close should have been reviewed. Of course, our culprits were the PAC 12 refs homering the call in an away venue. Just last week they blew a potential game altering call when Arizona State upended Michigan State in East Lansing. Thirteen years ago, Oklahoma traveled to Eugene, Oregon where multiple incorrect calls were made in the waning minutes ultimately handing Oregon an unearned win. Those refs were suspended for only one game. The PAC 12 body count they are racking up is giving the Clintons a run for their money. Better not say anything bad about them or you may be next. For this pattern of inaccurate calls that potentially alter a game’s outcome, the entire PAC 12 refereeing crew is awarded this week’s Bieber honors. 

Ginger (Badass) – Last Saturday in Ames, Iowa, 24-year-old fan Carson King held up a sign on ESPN College Gameday with his Venmo handle stating his Busch Light supply needed replenishing. He ended up getting $35K sent to him that day in which he promptly donated to the children’s’ hospital adjacent to Iowa’s Kinnick stadium where the now famous, in-game wave takes place from the fans to children. The amount as of Saturday morning had swelled to over $245K and will be matched by Venmo and Busch raising the total to $735K. How amazing and selfless is that act given that he could have just kept the money and done something for himself. In fact, Busch went one step further and is giving him a year’s supply of the beer with his likeness printed onto the can. Your last name is King and you did a truly Kingly act of kindness and a badass one at that. Congratulations Carson King on being this week’s Ginger awardee!
Truly badass

Next Week - A tri-level trifecta will be pulled off for the first time that I can remember. Friday night high school game with Mrs. Tailgate, jump on plane Saturday and hit the Utah State game with “Don” Iorio, followed by another flight to Denver for the Broncos game on Sunday with former neighbor Craig.

Happy Tailgating!

Monday, September 16, 2019

The return to the scene of the crime (OU v Georgia Rose Bowl 2 years ago)

A Boomer Sooner kind of crowd at the Tailgate
On Friday morning we made the five-hour trek from Danville down to Pasadena for the Oklahoma Sooners matchup against the UCLA Bruins. Via Tailgate Connect®, it was decided I would break out my tailgate gear and throw a DFT tailgate for a whole host of Sooner fans and a sprinkling of Bruin friends. The tailgate was sold out as we had an over capacity crowd of 90 people attend. A lot of careful planning has to take place when you do a large road tailgate because you can’t drive back home to pick up a forgotten item. With a menu consisting of 45 pounds of tri-tip BBQ, 20 pounds of kielbasa sausages, mac and cheese, baked Beans, chicken bite appetizers, an assortment of other goodies and 409 Tailgate Sauces rounded out the food part of the equation. The grill was manned by Chef Supreme, former “Neighbor Craig” who made the trip from Denver to join us, and did and outstanding job grilling and slicing all the meats! Our Rock star Bartender and life-long friend from Rockville, MD Johnny Harper, manned the bar consisting of Deep Eddy vodkas, kegs of beer, Louis Martini and William Hill wines, 409 Bloody Mary Mix, Makers Mark bourbon, and an assortment of other spirits including Jameson, Fireball and tequila. Also, our partner J Riley was providing free samples of their canned Mule products until the Rose Bowl Nazis ran them off (more on that later :).  
Johnny Harper AKA Sam from Cheers and Chez Craig manning their stations

We began set up at 10:45 AM sharp in an oasis of trees on the Brookside Golf Course, lot 1. Tents were assembled, satellite tv theater, the bar, the cooking area, serving tables and a multitude of tailgate games. The tailgate was stood up by 11:45 AM. Raffle tickets were sold to support the Sentinels of Freedom  ( ) for our wounded warriors and prizes were donated by our partners: Buzz Ball, D-Darts, QB 54, EZ Flame, The Hungry Fan, Big Mouth and the Sooner Podcast. 

The Daughters of Anarchy and two suspicious looking guys

The Donnelly ladies and two of their significant others Mike and Cristian, along with Doc Brian, Claudia, Joe Flake and Nicole worked their posteriors off to help run things smoothly. I owe them a debt of gratitude on the amazing job they did as I could not have pulled it off without them. Much to the chagrin of Big Rob Mixon of The Sooner Football Fan Podcast, Terry Long, the other half of the podcast was anointed as Tailgate King and Lorrie Claiborne as the Queen for the day. It’s not necessarily something one should strive for! 

Her majesty and her subjects
The King's crown and the Queen's Chalice
Guests were greeted with fireball shots from the shot ski, beer from the funnel, Deep Eddy hard lemonade from the jet pack and even keg stands. No need to ease into the vibe. Deep Eddy Vodka provided an amazing mobile bar where drinks were served all day. An awesome playlist by daughter #1 blared over our ecoXgear speaker and chants of Boomer Sooner were bellowed throughout the day. D Darts, Cornhole, Buzz Ball, washer toss and the hook ring game were all played during the tailgate. It was an amazing event that if you didn’t have fun here, you probably have never, and will never have fun in your miserable life (you know who you are)!
Gawd I love my job!

OU Class of 02 & 03, D Darts being played, guests starting to gather and the beer funnel champ playing Cornhole.
Trust him, he's a Doctor!

Even nice to my Bruin friends Tony & Phil
Rob and King Terry from the Sooner Fan Podcast. They promoted the heck out of this event for us!

At 3:45 we announced the winners of the raffle and the prizes they had won. We raised $400 for the charity which will be presented this week. At 4 PM sharp, we did a “It’s Four O’clock Somewhere” Boomer Sooner Fireball Toast with all the guests that cared to partake. The only snafus of the day were the satellite not being able to acquire signal and the Rose Bowl Nazis repeatedly sending their 5-0 over to keep an eye on us because of the fun level. The 5-0 were great and clearly did not want to be doing this. We even took pictures with them. The UCLA/Rose Bowl authorities should be begging for people to come watch their poor product on the pitch and not focus on driving them away.
Let the games begin!
Chow, D Darts and the Doctor getting his medical supplies
Thirsty patrons at our little grove

Tear down and repacking commenced with the crew’s help and an unsuspecting ice bath was administered to me in the process. The perpetrators will be dealt with at a time and place of my choosing. 
My Ring camera captured the perpetrators
Clearly they have been over served!

We made it into the grand old cathedral a little tardy, but in plenty of time to watch Jalen Hurts orchestrate another masterpiece on the turf. The stadium was literally half red and felt like a Sooner home game. The Sooners were coming off two resounding victories and the Bruins had just lost two weeks in a row to Group of Five programs Cincinnati and San Diego State. Oklahoma pretty much scored at will and dominated from start to finish while racking up over 600 yards of offense and limiting UCLA to 300. The final tally was 48-14. Jalen Hurts is squarely in the middle of that hypothetical “Heisman conversation” (where they are holding that discussion, I still want to know).  He was masterful once again in sharing the ball with a multitude of receivers while also running for 160 yards. Meanwhile, if not for Chip Kelly’s steep buyout, he may be looking for employment elsewhere as his team is not responding to him.
My faithful crew minus Johnny!

Pride of Oklahoma, the three best friends and Joe Flake and Nicole

Around the Country In the game of the week played in Ames, Iowa, after a lengthy weather delay, the Iowa Hawkeyes defeated their in-state rival, the Iowa State Cyclones thus claiming the coveted CyHawk trophy once more. Herm Edwards took his Sun Devils to East Lansing, MI and squeaked out a 10-7 victory over Sparty and their angry coach, Mark Dantonio. Maryland, after starting 2-0 and setting the world on fire in the process, got shellacked by the Owls of Temple once again. In what is now dubbed the Keystone Classic, Penn State beat their little brother Pitt in a close battle in Happy Valley, PA 17-10. Bama playing against their first real test of the season  by traveling to Columbia, SC and prevailed with a score of 47-23. Stanford continues to slide further by going to Disney World and claiming it to now to be the unhappiest place on earth after UCF spanked em 45-27. What looked like consecutive upsets by Kentucky over Florida, turned into a narrow Gator win in Lexington.  The Wahoos of the University of Virginia beat the lowly Florida State Seminoles and for some reason the fans felt compelled to storm the field after the game. Why, I ask? The Seminoles quite frankly are not very good. The Wildcats from the Little Apple of Manhattan, KS stormed into Stark Vegas, MS and got revenge from last year’s loss to Mississippi State by knocking off the Bulldogs 31-24. Finally, a nod toward the great T Boone Pickens who passed away at 91. He donated over $600 million dollars to Mrs. Tailgate’s Alma Mater Oklahoma State and their athletic facilities. He left $30 in his will for Coach Gundy to get his mullet clipped at Sports Clips. Epic. He truly lived his best life.

Bieber – A rare triple awarding of the honors this week. First, Sooner Lauren (Mrs. Tailgate’s cousin), a die-hard OU fan traveled to Las Vegas last week, a mere three-hour drive to Pasadena. Instead of making the trek over the hill on Saturday, she opted to go to the Circus Circus all you can eat buffet and drank free cheap booze at the Hard Rock pool party and pre-storm area 54 or something like that in Vegas and not come to be with her family in Pasadena. Second trophy goes to Nick Saban for playing the part of an “elitist diva” and bitching about his 11 AM start time for next WEAK’s matchup against that vaunted Southern Miss squad. Suck it up Buttercup! Last awardee, the Rose Bowl Nazis for chasing away the lovely ladies from the bourbon company who were handing out free samples of their mule product, sending the law over to check on us hourly, and for originally trying to force us into a crappy tailgate spot which I would have none of that nonsense. Also, their lack of post game traffic control to get off the golf course and onto the road is the poorest I have ever seen.  We had an amazing tailgate and time, but I am done tailgating at that venue as I refuse to be inconvenienced when I can avoid it. Good luck UCLA.

Ginger Award– This week’s goes to my oldest brother (by a long shot) Tailgate Marine Chuck or Charlie as his siblings call him. Marine Chuck is an avid Notre Dame fan of the “Subway Domer” variety but you would think he was an actual Alumni as much as he can spin a tale. Chuck is battling a significant illness at this point and has been deactivated from attending any games for the first part of the season. I have made it a habit to call him and annoy him from various loud tailgates this season to put him on the phone to random new besties that are either his Marine brethren or Irish fans. He has yet to hang up on me, so the tradition will continue. Chuck also a Vietnam Veteran, has been in tough battles before and is standing up and staring this one back down as I write. With that said, your courageous efforts have earned you the coveted weekly Ginger (Badass) Award. Stay in the fight Marine and we hope to see you at Army Navy this year!

Next week is a much deserved week off from traveling to or hosting tailgates. We will take in the high school game Friday night as Monte Vista travels to Oakland to play Bishop O’Dowd. On Saturday we will enjoy a day of college football on TV capped off by the Notre Dame/Georgia game playing late in the day.

Happy Tailgating!