If you are like me and think college football is pretty much the reason fall was invented, then most likely you will be heading to a game to support your favorite team over the next few months. You are probably going to put on your team colors, meet some of your best friends since you were at said college and then reminisce over hamburgers, hotdogs, boiled peanuts, chips and dip and a few beverages. It happens to me every time I visit my alma mater. The atmosphere around the campus is electric and there is honestly nothing like it.
Each week we will be highlighting the tailgating traditions in each collegiate conference. If your school happens to be in the SEC then you are in luck, this is your week! Let us know where you think your school should rank.
Although Kentucky doesn’t have as much success on the field as other SEC schools, off the field is where Wildcat fans show “those other” SEC schools how to do it right. The tailgating scene around Commonwealth stadium is riddled with the Burgoo, (a meat stew native to the Blue grass state) corn hole and the finest Kentucky Bourbon you can find. When it comes to tailgating The Big Blue are no losers.
While Florida doesn’t have a specific tradition that sets it apart from other schools, their reputation as one of the best party schools in the country definitely extends to its tailgating scene. The O-Dome parking lot has to be the Mecca for UF tailgating. You can’t get any closer to Ben Hill Stadium and the FanFest is right next-door. But tailgaters can be spotted all across the campus. Just look for the fans in their orange and blue that are eating, drinking and partying right up ’till kickoff.
8. Texas A&M
Aggies fans, a.k.a. The 12th Man, start camping out for tailgating spots on Wednesday for the big games against Alabama and the like. The entire nightlife is centered around the historic Northgate bar district, which has great bars and restaurants for any pallet. Fans also get it going Friday night before the game day with “The Midnight Yell” pep rally at Kyle Field. The real show is Saturday, Aggies love their tailgating and the barbeque scene doesn’t disappoint. They have brisket and sausage on the smoker, along with cold beer in the ice chest. Texas BBQ is where it’s at for The 12th Man.
All right Dawg Nation, we know you enjoy some great whiskey and a few “dawg barks”, but we also know you have one of the best tailgating spots in downtown Athens. The Athens bar scene is centered north of the famous arch on Broad Street. There are plenty of great bars and restaurants to choose from and known for its music scene, Athens has plenty of local bands playing during the game weekends. If you want a more traditional tailgating experience, check out North Campus where you can pitch your tent after 7am on game day. UGA fans will tailgate any and everywhere they can, but the closer to the stadium the rowdier. After a seemingly non-stop party, don’t forget to join in on the “Dawg Walk” where fans will form a man-made tunnel to welcome the players into Sanford Stadium.
The place to be on game day in Tuscaloosa is “The Quad” (two square miles of land with some serious Civil War history). Tents start popping up on the quad as early as Thursday for the “Kickoff on The Quad” tailgate party. The sea of Crimson and White indulge in delectable southern cuisine, jam out with the Million Dollar Band and the Elephant Stomp, and witness Nick Saban lead his players on the “Walk of Champions”. These Crimson Tide traditions are some of the best in the SEC.
The massive crowds start making their descent on Auburn, Friday afternoon, setting up their tailgating spots in and around Jordan-Hare Stadium. Thus, making it Alabama’s fifth largest city on game day. From the traditional pre-game Tiger Walk to Toomer’s Corner, the post game place to party, and the awesome southern hospitality, it’s hard to beat a fall weekend in Auburn. War Eagle!
4. South Carolina
Chugging has a whole different meaning when you tailgate at South Carolina. Just yards away from Williams-Brice Stadium sits the Cockaboose Railroad which are 22 abandoned train cabooses that have been turned into the best tailgating spot near the stadium. Each Cockaboose has their own vibe and flair, making this the ultimate tailgating stop for Gamecock fans.
How can you beat tailgating on the Tennessee River? This is how Volunteer fans do it. The “Vol Navy” is “sailgating” at it’s best. Made up of 200 or so boats that gather on the Tennessee River just outside of Neyland Stadium, this passionate fan base is the most unique type of tailgating around and why they find themselves so high on our list. So while the Vols’ dry-land tailgating scene is just as awesome, it’s their on-the-water traditions that put them on the map.
To the average Tiger fan tailgating is an art form. If the game is at 8pm, you will see Tiger fans all over campus setting up their tailgating spot at 8am making this literally an all-day event. You gotta start early cooking up the Boudin, Jambalaya and boiling the shrimp, right? The endless amount of unbelievably delicious Cajun food is what sets LSU’s pregame festivities apart from everyone else. Nobody eats better.
1. Ole Miss
The “Grove”. Probably enough said, but for those of you who haven’t experienced the tailgating spot that is literally over-100-years-old, The “Grove” at Ole Miss is the tailgating Mecca. The night before every Rebels home game, fans gather on this 10-acre property to pitch their tents and gear up for the game day festivities. Right before kickoff, the faithful Rebel fans gather together to welcome the arriving players and coaches in the “Walk of Champions” (even though Ole Miss hasn’t won a national championship since 1960). The team may have their own struggles on the field, but the fans pull out all the stops when it comes to tailgating, making them the number one tailgating destination on our list.