Dissecting the Tailgating Traditions of College Football’s Preseason Top 15
1. University of Southern California
2012 is supposed to be USC’s return to dominance in football, as they’re a popular pick to win it all behind senior quarterback Matt Barkley. Even if the Trojans disappoint on the field this year, which is not likely, we know their fans will still be having a damn good time at their games. The houses at USC are packed hours before the games with bros decked in cardinal and gold, and the chicks that give SoCal its fantastic reputation. The best parties here can often be confused for a scene from “The Hills,” or so I’ve been told. Once you leave your primary tailgate crib, make your way down Trousdale Parkway to take in the tailgates of other Trojan fans. Kicking the flag posts along Trousdale is a tradition that a lot of fans take part in on their way to the Coliseum, then make your way to 901 Bar & Grill later to keep the party going.
2. University of Alabama
The defending national champs are well represented by their 100,000+ loyal fans down in Tuscaloosa one game day. First of all, don’t show up to T-Town if you’re not wearing either crimson or Bear Bryant’s famous hound’s tooth pattern. Once you’ve got that taken care of, grab a brew from one of the “To-Go” bars along University Strip. There’s no open container law in effect, so take a cold one with you to your next tailgate destination or on your way into Bryant-Denny Stadium. Fraternity houses at ‘Bama are conveniently located across the street from their football palace of a stadium, so it’s an easy stumble for students to get to the games. Once inside, fraternities have blocked seating behind the end zone, while most of the student section is located in the upper deck. After a Tide win, head over to Gallete’s, The Houndstooth, or another of Tuscaloosa’s watering holes to celebrate.
3. Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge and Death Valley are the places to be on Saturdays in the fall. The dismissal of the Honey Badger cost the Tigers the top spot in our rankings, but LSU’s faithful will still put together one of the best scenes in sports outside the stadium. The thing that separates Baton Rouge tailgates from the rest is the food. At LSU you’ll find delicacies such as whole roasted pigs, fried alligator tails, and of course Cajun specialties like boudin and jambalaya before every single game. Trust us, they know how to party, too. LSU’s campus is absolutely taken over on game days by RV’s and tailgate parties everywhere. A bro can begin his day at his house, then wander anywhere around the stadium to find a party of his liking. BroBible posted up on the Parade Grounds during our 2011 Tailgate Tour and we were not disappointed. Many LSU bros go with the southern style of dressing up for the games, and the ladies join in with their sundresses. However, the amount of tiger stripes and body paint you’ll find in Death Valley is more than impressive as well. LSU and its fans will both look to rebound from their title game sh*t show last season, so Baton Rouge should be wild this fall. Warning: be careful if you’re in visiting colors.
4. University of Oregon
Oregon’s Autzen Stadium is the smallest venue on this list, holding a mere 54,000 fans. However, you would have no idea of this if you were there, as their crowd measures up as one of the loudest in the nation. Parking around the stadium has become fairly limited, but that does not stop the Ducks from properly preparing for a home game in Eugene. Because of the lack of parking, swarms of students in green and gold make their way from their houses around campus where a lot of the student tailgating takes place. Don’t look down upon what goes on in the lots, though, Duck fans put together great set ups, great food, and a lot of beer before heading in for the game.
5. University of Georgia
The party begins in Athens long before the Dawgs take the field between the hedges. Houses are packed hours before kickoff with bros, brews, and plenty of Southern belles. Being that UGA is a southern school, game day attire is not limited to only jerseys and face paint. You’ll find most of the girls in sundresses, and most of the dudes in Polos and khakis. Some go for the bowtie look, just make sure it’s red or black. As for getting f*cked up, they do that pretty well in Athens. Beers are a plenty and Evan Williams is always at the tailgate. If you can still stand by kickoff, first give yourself a pat on the back, then head over to Sanford Stadium. Just make sure you know the words to the, “Who’s that coming down the tracks?” chant. If the scene in Athens isn’t enough for you, you probably need a liver transplant. However, you can hit up the “World’s Largest Cocktail Party” and “Frat Beach” at the annual Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville to party with the Dawgs there as well.
6. Oklahoma University
Like the Dawgs, the Sooners’ tailgate season is highlighted by their annual rivalry game against Texas. While the Red River Shootout at the Cotton Bowl and the Texas State Fair are sights to see in themselves, in no way is a game day in Norman something to forget about. Lindsey and Jenkins streets are filled with crimson and cream before the Sooners take on opponents in Memorial Stadium. You may never see more fans drinking in the beds of pick-up trucks than you will at an Oklahoma football game. Senior quarterback Landry Jones will lead what should be a very dangerous Sooner team, and their fans will be with them partying every step of the way.
7. Florida State University
I’ll give it to the ‘Noles, game day in Tallahassee is definitely one of the best tailgate parties out there, as Doak Walker Stadium is surrounded on Saturdays in the fall by fans and students that know how to have a great time. You can choose to rage at a fraternity house, the Indian Village apartments, or in any lot or field around the stadium. When you combine their passion for football, Florida weather, and girls that look like Playb*y bunnies, you’re in for a fun afternoon. However, don’t travel to Tallahassee with light nerves. Especially if, say, you’re a fan of the hated Miami Hurricanes and your buddy is blackout rattling off, “F*ck you Seminoles!” like it’s his job, they’ll get you back. They definitely know how to tailgate at FSU.
8. West Virginia University
Morgantown, West Virginia. It’s often described by its residents as almost heaven, and also as a drinking town with a football problem. You wont find bowties and sundresses at WVU, but everyone will be decked out head to toe in gold and blue. Bros can celebrate game day in many ways, and you won’t be struggling to find a cold Natty. Houses are awake early to welcome not only the day’s events, but also even the great Erin Andrews. It’s mostly a friendly environment around Milan Puskar Stadium unless you’re wearing the other team’s colors and/or are from Pittsburgh. You’ll find corn hole, great food, and plenty of beer as Mountaineer fans prepare for a game in the Blue Lot. Keep an eye out for the “Walk of Honor” before the game, and for burning couches on lawns after big wins (and sometimes losses). Country roads, take me home.
9. University of Michigan
We all know that Michigan has the Big House, but fans don’t gather there until after the tailgate dies down, and that doesn’t happen easily. Game day mornings in Ann Arbor kick off with a bang, as the younger fraternity brothers will sneak alcohol into a sorority house, wake them up with music, and then head over to the pregame house. Up to seven hours before kick off hundreds of thousands of crazed fans in maize and blue occupy the houses around campus. Fraternities and sororities will often rock their pregame pinnies for the warm weather games, however many that may be. Kegs, Jell-O shots, funnels, liquor, and all the usual supplies for getting your f*cked up on will be there, have no fear. Then head over to the Big House and enjoy the game, even if you don’t remember it.
10. University of South Carolina
“They all love cocks on their face,” said a South Carolina bro to me. Was he talking about the temporary Gamecock tattoos girls put on their face for game days? Maybe. Regardless, the Ol’ Ball Coach has been fielding high quality football of late, and fans in Columbia are responding with high quality tailgates. Like a lot of their SEC rivals, students at USC don’t simply don a t-shirt on fall Saturdays. The ladies will usually be wearing their sundresses and cowboy boots, with the dudes rocking a garnet PFG shirt and some shorts. Like UGA, some go for the dress shirt, bowtie, and dress pants combo, but it’s considered to be a little over the top. Greek life is dominant around Williams-Brice Stadium, so just look for letters flying above tents in the fraternity lots and you’re bound to have a good time. Stay away from the Fairgrounds, where alumni reside, and make sure you check out the student section chanting to “Sandstorm” before kickoff.
11. Michigan State University
Here’s what our in-house Spartan, Reggie Noble, had to say about tailgating in East Lansing:
“I saw one bum fight another bum for cans with a knife before the Notre Dame game in 2006. Immediately after that, restrictions were put in place. Spartans just can’t have nice things – or night games at least. The accepted go-to spot is the Tennis Courts. Here you’ll find legal drinkers and other not-so-legal drinkers liberally sharing 30-packs of Busch Light and Jell-O shots so strong you’d swear Walter White concocted them. If a person isn’t wearing school colors, they’re trying waaaaaaaay too hard. It’s go green, go white, or just go home. Being the self-respecting Midwesterners that we are, encased meats are aplenty and any appearance by the sun is seen as a gift from our Protestant God. Bags of cheap wine are slapped and bags of beans are thrown into cornholes. Any mention of Michigan is a party foul. Avoid Munn Field at all costs. The Solo cups are as dry as the turf is dewy. Off-campus soirees are crowded, but there’s always room for a luge. Alumni, for a few precious Saturdays a year, are seen as a welcome addition to the party instead of creepy narks. Life is good on game day.”
12. University of Wisconsin
Beer, bloodies, cheese curds, brats, and football. All of those are great, and they’re only made better when you combine them for a game day in Madison. A bro’s tailgate day likely begins at Kappa Sig or another fraternity. For a 2:30 kickoff you’re there at 8 a.m., and for a night game you’re there at 8 a.m. After that, you can make your way down Langdon to take in other fraternity tailgates, or head to Kollege Klub, Madison’s legendary bar. Next, bros may choose to hit up The Stadium Bar, the Annex, or other places closer to Camp Randall on their way in. You may not be in a rush to get into the game with all of your pregame options, however you never miss the student section’s rendition of “Jump Around.” between the 3rd and 4th quarters. “We started it, and it’s better than anywhere else,” I was told by a loyal Sconnie. After the game it’s directly back to KK to beat the lines and greet the Badger players who will show up to celebrate the win.
13. Clemson University
Although Clemson is an ACC school, it’s tailgating scene has much more of an SEC atmosphere than its conference rivals. “It’s pretty much frowned upon to wear a t-shirt and shorts,” said a Clemson babe, “I made the mistake of wearing an orange tank top with a white skirt once and felt very out of place.” For bros, you’ll see a lot of orange or purple Polos, J-Crew shorts, boat shoes and visors. Or just say f*ck it and wear a t-shirt or jersey. After all this is a football game not a dinner party with your girlfriend’s parents. Anyway, every inch of Clemson’s campus gets taken over by tailgaters on game day, with trailers parked on the athletic fields days before the game. Fryers and Esso are bars near Memorial Stadium that will be filled during the entire game with drunken fans and students that didn’t make it inside. Always make sure you get your Bojangles fix before the game, and know the Clemson Cadence Count.
14. University of Arkansas
In the wake of Bobby Petrino’s scandal and dismissal, the Hogs and their fans will look to bounce back this fall. Even though some of Arkansas’ home games are played at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville is their true on-campus home. When tailgating at a Hogs game, be sure to check out “The Gardens,” just to the south of the stadium. This is the heart of an Arkansas tailgate. Students will begin the day at fraternities or houses around campus, then make there way to The Gardens in the hours before kickoff to take part in the grilling and drinking events that go hand in hand with college football. As for traditions down in Fayetteville, it will be hard to miss fans “calling the Hogs,” especially when 70,000+ do it at once.
15. Virginia Tech
When I say that Lane Stadium is the place to be in Blacksburg on fall Saturdays, I really want to emphasize that it is THE place to be. The town is pretty much shut down when the Hokies have a home game. Fans enjoy a traditional tailgate scene, with the lots around the stadium filled with beers, corn hole, and a lot of maroon and orange. Where Penn State has its famous “white outs,” Hokie home games may feature either a “maroon effect” or an “orange effect,” where all of Lane Stadium is rocking the day’s color. Students arrive early to the lots surrounding the stadium, where they will grill and drink for hours leading up to kickoff. Once inside, the place goes wild when “Enter Sandman” is played and 66,000 fans start jumping.
Other Tailgates Worth Checking Out:
• The Grove at Ole Miss is arguably the best tailgating set up in the country.
• The “Sailgates” at Universities of Tennessee and Washington
• Ohio State’s scene around the Horse Shoe
• Beaver Stadium at Penn State
Keep an eye out for BroBible's Tailgate Tour 2012, and our upcoming rankings of the 100 Best College Bars for Bros!