Last week, TailgatingIdeas.com writer and regular contributor Foster Flint wrote a post in regards to a Top 10 list that appeared on Bleacherreport.com. The article listed the top college football tailgates expected in 2010. Foster’s post created a little bit of buzz and debate and even landed on the Alabama and Ole Miss message boards. But after reading Foster’s post and then reading the detailed descriptions from the original post written by Michael Pinto, it was painfully obvious Mr. Pinto has no freaking idea what makes for a good college football tailgate.
Case and point, he listed the Oklahoma vs. Texas game as the No. 2 best college football tailgate in 2010. Mr. Pinto, have you ever been to the OU/Texas game? If you have, you would clearly understand that tailgating prior to that game not only sucks huge, sweaty monkey balls but it is almost non-existent. The game is played in the Cotton Bowl which resides inside the State Fair of Texas fairgrounds. Parking is a pain and if you do find parking on approved Fairgrounds parking lots, the security discourages tailgating and makes sure you move yourself inside. The fairgrounds aren’t surrounded by the best neighborhood either. You definitely don’t want to be tailgating in front of someone’s house who offers to watch your car for $20 just to make sure nothing “happens to it” while you are inside for the next three hours. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Just because the game should be a dandy on the field does not make it a good tailgating environment. The other games on Mr. Pinto’s list all seemed to be projected hard fought battles on the field but the parking lot is nothing out of the ordinary. Great match-ups on the field do not always translate to tailgating success.
So after reading Mr. Pinto’s Top 10 college football tailgating games to look forward to in 2010, I decided to come up with the REAL top 10. You know, a top 10 list written by someone who actually understands tailgating. So without further delay, here are the REAL Top 10 College Football Tailgates of 2010. (Team rankings are based on pre-season rankings.)
10) No. 2 Ohio State at No. 12 Wisconsin (Sat. Oct 16 7:00 PM ET) – When it comes to college football tailgating in the Big 10, there are two places one must visit before they die. Penn State and Madison, Wisconsin. If you’ve been to Madison you know what I mean. The reason why this game will have fans and tailgaters alike whipped into a frenzy will be the prospect of knocking off the perennial “big dog” of the conference and also the start time. You get a night game in Madison, mid-season, against a potential BCS Championship Game participant? The fans will be out in force trying to show up the Buckeye faithful that made the trip that they may have the better team on the field but they definitely do not tailgate this hard in Columbus.
9) Michigan at No. 19 Penn State (Sat. Oct 30 8:00 PM ET) - All I can say is “Night Game” and “Happy Valley” in the same sentence and you know the tailgating will be insane. Add fuel to this fire that all the previous home games in State College, Pa will be noon starts and Lions fans will be chomping at the bit to have some extra time to tailgate. After weeks of waking up early for kegs and eggs to tailgate before Youngstown State, Kent State, Temple and Illinois, Happy Valley will be extra happy for this game. The students will still have their alarms set for 6 am to take full advantage of the extra time allotted for this night game. Penn State tailgates so hard that the cops have had to make special rules regarding tailgating before the annual Blue/White Spring intrasquad scrimmage. When the police make special tailgating rules for a meaningless practice game in the spring, you know these fans take tailgating seriously.
8) No. 4 Florida at Tennessee (Sat. Sept 18) – Vols fans tend to debate which SEC team is their true rival. Some claim it is Florida while others say it is Alabama. No matter what side Vols fans fall on this argument, they can all agree that they think they tailgate better than those Gator fans in Gainesville. One thing going for them right out of the gate is the fact that the Vol Navy drops anchor right outside Neyland Stadium each and every home game. Traditional tailgating normally requires some sort of land loving vehicle but you have to admit there is something inherently cool about tailgating on a boat. (Cue “I’m on a Boat” by The Lonely Island Featuring T-Pain. NSFW due to language) Fans tend to use their pre-gaming tailgating festivities as a way to prep for their participation inside the stadium. Vol fans would like nothing more than to help their team “Sing Rocky Top all night after they beat Florida” WITHOUT Lane Kiffin. In order to cheer and stay loud all game long, that requires hours upon hours of tailgating.
7) No. 25 West Virginia at No. 21 LSU (Sat. Sept 25 8:00 PM ET) – A night game in Baton Rouge is nothing short of spectacular. When it comes to tailgating, LSU fans have a chip on their shoulder and set out to prove to everyone every weekend that they have perfected the art of tailgating. Add to this equation the West Virginia Mountaineers coming to town and the Tiger faithful will want to put on a show. West Virginia is well known for their tailgating heritage (what else are you going to do in Morgantown?) and they have the incinerated couches to prove it. LSU fans do not want to be shown up in their own house by fans they consider to be beneath them. Local area liquor stores have probably already circled this game on their calendar not because it will be that close of a game but to make sure they have enough kegs to sell.
6) Colorado vs. Colorado State (Sat. Sept. 4) – Most novices would look down the schedule and just pick out every rivalry game as a great tailgating game. That would be a rookie and uninformed move. However, although CU and CSU are not in the same conference, this is one of the fiercest non-conference rivalries in college football. It’s a classic battle of the “Haves” vs. the “Have Nots”. CU is in the BCS conference while Colorado State plays in the Non-BCS Mountain West. CU is considered to be the big school in the state while CSU seems to always be fighting for respect. With the built-in inferiority complex of CSU and the fact this game is played on a neutral field in Denver, plays well for tailgaters from Boulder and Fort Collins. Even though one team may be better than the other, all tailgaters will be on a mission to demonstrate that they tailgate better at their school.
5) No. 19 Penn State at No. 1 Alabama (Sat. Sept 11 7 PM ET) – For years, Alabama and Penn State would square off every year. Then for some reason, they took a break and didn’t play regularly. Now that the tradition has been renewed, the Alabama fans will want to tailgate big time. After all, ‘Bama fans are inherently nostalgic seeing how you can’t walk 50 feet in Tuscaloosa without being reminded that Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant once coached there. Build in a few more hours of tailgating for a 7 PM start and Tide fans will think they have been tailgating since 1978. Penn State has their own reputation of tailgating to uphold and the fans from down south want to show them their own brand of tailgating can take it to the next level too.
4) Fresno State at No. 3 Boise State (Fri. Nov 19 9:30 PM ET) – Boise State has not only earned the nation’s respect for their football prowess but as their team has improved, so has the tailgating scene. Much like the aforementioned Morgantown, there really isn’t a whole lot to do in Boise other than tailgate like a viking. Boise State has been fighting for respect on the field for years now and the tailgaters have adopted that same mentality. With a 9:30 PM ET kick-off and the fact this game is on a Friday televised by ESPN, the Boise State chancellor might as well cancel that day’s classes. The chances of students showing up to class on this day are about as good as water freezing at 55 degrees.
3) No. 4 Florida vs. No. 23 Georgia (Sat. Oct 30 3:30 PM ET) – No matter what the PC community would like to rename this game and tailgate, it will always be “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party”. The university presidents tried to de-emphasize the focus on alcohol for the game but a name change has not deterred the tailgaters from sticking with tradition. The fact that the teams are going to be more evenly matched this year than in the past plays no factor in how the tailgating will play out in the parking lot. Both teams could be fighting it out for last place in the SEC and this game would still be a destination you can not miss just based on the tailgating alone. Played on a neutral site equal distance from both schools, fans from both teams will be trying to show the other team’s fans who can tailgate better. And when it comes right down to it, we’re all winners when that happens.
2) Brigham Young at No. 20 Florida State (Sat. Sept 18) – Florida State’s program is back on the rise but Seminole Nation’s passion for tailgating never left. Bank on the Seminole tailgaters putting on an epic display of alcohol consumption to disgust the handful of Mormons who made the trip to Tallahassee. There will be so much boozing before this game that even Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton would be offended. Also, being a September game in Florida, you can expect the FSU co-eds to be dressed appropriately in order to beat the heat. There will be so much eye candy roaming the tailgating parking lots, guys’ heads will resemble a Rain Bird sprinkler.
1) No. 1 Alabama at No. 21 LSU (Sat Nov 6 8:00 PM ET) – I hate to be redundant but a night game in Baton Rouge against the defending national champions is hard to ignore. Joe Cahn, the Commissioner of Tailgating has said, “I didn’t go to college… I went to LSU”. Knowing that this school produced a guy that tailgates for a living, they are no slouch when it comes to pre-gaming. Take this into consideration; Alabama is the defending national champion and could very well be ranked No. 1 heading into this game. Tiger fans would like nothing better than to beat the Crimson Tide in Baton Rouge and ruin Alabama’s season and therefore their chances of repeating as BCS champions. Tiger fans take their role of supporting their team very seriously and they believe it starts with tailgating. It is their obligation to start tailgating at the break of dawn for a game that starts at 8 PM. Tiger fans believe that is the recipe for what it will take to propel their team to a win. And if they lose, the beer will still be cold and the Jambalaya warm and the women unbelievably attractive.