Wherever there is a big college football program, so too shall the tailgating scene thrive. So sayeth the prophecy. And what’s truly impressive about college tailgating is that regardless of how well a team is doing, the parking still seems to grow every weekend. That’s the kind of passion you can only find in collegiate sports. And of all the teams in the NCAA, the tailgating scenes at these 10 stand out above the rest.
Even after a few years of underperforming, these tailgates are still some of the biggest in the country. Bring a pair of sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sea of orange, and make sure to try some of the smoked venison.
9. Texas A&M
I don’t know if you’ve ever been to College Station, but it’s basically the campus, a Whataburger… and that’s it. So, the fans throw themselves behind the tailgating scene, even meeting at midnight the night before to practice their screams.
Washington (Photo Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Holy crap. A school that’s north of the border! And even though UW hasn’t been very competitive for a while, fans still show up on both land and sea for some intense tailgating and sterngating, respectively.
The Black Knights might not be BCS contenders, but they’re probably our most important football team. These tailgates are less raucous than reverential, less rowdy than respectful. Unspoken and understood is the fact that the draft isn’t waiting for these young men. And many glasses are raised in recognition.
Barbeque, sunshine, a competitive team, passionate fans and cheerleaders wearing chaps — all set in the Live Music Capital of the World. Why the hell didn’t I go to Texas?
Wisconsin (Photo Credit: Tom Hauck/Getty Images)
Madison is a great party town in its own right. Now add in Badger fans’ love for beer, brats, and football, and baby, you’ve got a stew going! Plus, the Badgers tend to play a lot of night games, so the fans are typically well-marinated by the time the game rolls around.
Tennessee boasts some tasty southern cooking. But the real draw of these tailgates is the Volunteer Navy — a bunch of boats docked on the Tennessee River. That’s right. They sail-gate.
Tennessee (Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Much like my last performance review, Auburn tailgaters show up two days early, drink bourbon the entire time and then cover their own property in toilet paper. And those are the quiet fans.
The Tigers get to enjoy the perfect recipe for tailgating: a slew of night games, a competitive team and a crowd that eschews burgers for cochon de lait, gator stew and oyster gumbo. And you wonder how JaMarcus Russell put on 60 pounds.
Ole Miss (Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
1. Ole Miss
The Valhalla of tailgating. Every week, fans congregate at The Grove — a 10-acre piece of land that welcomes ill-shaven Mad Dog-chuggers, slow bourbon-sippers, impeccably-dressed oenophiles and everyone in between. Even if you know nothing else about Ole Miss (did you know it’s the same thing as the University of Mississippi?), know that they do tailgating better than anyone else.
If you take nothing else from this list, then take this: northerners, it’s time to get your act together. We’re getting creamed out there! I challenge each of you to step up your game and let’s make next year’s list a little more competitive.
Check out more Tailgating Top 10s.
Stop in at the Man Cave, where the women are hot and the beer is cold.
Brian Cullen almost put his alma mater on this list, but that would be a gross abuse of journalistic integrity. You can follow him on Twitter @Bucketcullen.