This is a guest post from Pete Tverdov. Pete is a fanatical tailgater for Rutgers football games and he and his friend have a growing crew of tailgate members thanks to their tricked out tailgate bus. (The bus even has its own Facebook Fan Page.) Pete is hoping to come on board as a regular contributor to the writing staff of TailgatingIdeas.com.
As a fellow Big East alumnus I decided to compiled a rankings order of Big East tailgating. As a disclaimer I sifted through as much video and research as I could since I’ve only been tailgating at two places. I played in every single stadium but could only see so much as we were driving in.
The goal here is for one to have a general idea of what to expect if they decide to venture out for a tailgate in the fall. If I were traveling to one of these places I’d see if I could hook up with the intense tailgaters of the school (you can find them on-line somehow) to be in a fun and familiar atmosphere. Lots of schools have distinct tailgates. Whether it’s a strip of bars and restaurants or a huge parking lot with big set-ups and converted vehicles, we’ll highlight what each school brings to the table.
1. West Virginia – Maybe it’s the fact that it’s known as one of the heaviest liquor consuming states in the Union. However, on Saturdays there isn’t a more happening area in the Big East than Morgantown. Blue and gold suffocate the streets. The typical Mountaineer: camo gear, animal skin and a flask or solo cup. Old women give the opposition the bird as they drive into the stadium. The access to many lots near the stadium is a plus. Several colorful vehicles (painted conversion vans and station wagons) and the song “Country Roads” only add to the experience.
2. Rutgers – A diverse amount of parking very close to the stadium leaves a little something for everyone. As you get closer to the stadium the tailgates get more intense. Converted buses, ambulances and bread trucks line certain lots while high end tailgater’s park spitting distance from the stadium for something a little more upscale. You’ll hear Bon Jovi, Springsteen and techno music as you go through the different lots. If you don’t want to tailgate just have a “fat sandwich” at the grease trucks.
3. South Florida – Sunny skies and lots of prideful students usually engulf Raymond James Stadium on game day. While it’s a college game with an NFL feel to it, the weather alone makes the tailgating worthwhile. There are some tricked out vehicles around like Rutgers and West Virginia. The school’s football tradition is very young but the tailgating atmosphere is good for a budding school and there is plenty of room to grow. Not to mention the women are probably the best looking in the Big East.
4. Pittsburgh – Tailgater’s are spread out in spurts and are mostly in the premium lots near the stadium. There are parking decks available for visitors though. A blue collar feel fills the atmosphere along with smoking grills and a lot of well know pubs and eateries. Not saying the students aren’t around but it seems that there is more of an older crowd in the lots around the stadium. Pittsburgh has a varing amount of colorful bars and restaurants that give fans an alternative to traditional tailgating.
5. UConn – A lot of space is available since their stadium is on top of an old airport. The tailgate has a cozy atmosphere, usually with tents galore. However, fans in Storrs suffer from the early winter’s and usually everyone is covered up by October. A plethora of beers served inside the stadium brings a little uniqueness. Besides West Virginia, UConn is known to have the rowdiest and most confrontational tailgater’s. Tread softly!
6. Syracuse – Small patches of tailgating are scattered inside a very pretty campus backdrop. The city is a shell of its former self but the tailgating is respectable. You’ll find a mixture of all ages, most of whom are bundled up because winter comes early up in Northern New York. Lots of students tend to tailgate outside of their apartments but the walk to the game is the most enjoyable as you take in the sights from the campus.
7. Louisville – A city team playing in an area without a city feel to it. Confused? There are several bars downtown that are popular and it appears that they have the best amenities for RV’s in the Big East. Lots of room to tailgate but I couldn’t find much on their tailgating scene so they go near the bottom.
8. Cincinnati – The lack of parking due to being smack dab in a city make Cincinnati tailgating tough. The parking is so limited that I believe they’re the only school in the Big East without RV parking. The people who do tailgate get after it in some of the premium lots, including the “Bearcat Tailgaters” (you can find them on facebook) whose setup compares to a massive rock concert.