School unity is something that is often palpable, especially when it comes to sports. It is an energy that is hard to encapsulate into a single feeling. The bonds of pride, teamwork, and passion roll into one ball of emotion that explodes fanatically every time your team takes the field. And for colleges that live and breathe that sense of pride, tailgating isn’t just a casual endeavor. It is an art form.
Tailgating is the perfect blend of fanatical sports pride, savory foods that you can’t believe were cooked in the back of a truck, and plenty of delicious beer (and stronger stuff). You’re entertaining while being entertained, which is part of the reason that nothing compares to a college tailgate. From alumni reliving their glory days, to current students looking to have a good time, a college tailgate is an epic event for all involved. And what makes a tailgate great actually has little to do with the school’s team itself.
Sure, if your team is on a winning streak, that always keeps the crowd going, but a successful tailgate is measured by far more than success on the field. It's all about traditions: war paint dutifully applied, folk who’ll camp out for days waiting for the perfect spot, the expenditure of hundreds of dollars on food all season long to feed the masses and create the perfect atmosphere. Much as a team works together to win a game, the fans work together to create the perfect tailgate.
Click here to see the Best Colleges for Tailgating 2013
What exactly makes a tailgate one of the best in the country? We decided to do a thorough investigation that gave fans not only an opportunity to vote for their alma mater, but also to reveal their favorite tailgating traditions. To do this, we took to social media and asked the fans and followers of 70 college teams (the ones that are considered to be the best football colleges in the country) to vote in a 10-question survey.
Check out Top Tailgating Tips here.
In addition to the survey results, we factored in each school’s top traditions, how many traditions there were, and how many people participated in them at each tailgate. We also took atmosphere into consideration. Were tailgate lots wide and spacious or overcrowded? Was the crowd wild and rowdy or gleefully inebriated? And just how long did the party last? Our fourth category was, of course, focused around the food and drink. We favorably marked schools that not only have iconic tailgate dishes and cocktails, but also have access to surrounding catering and bar scenes. And finally, we conducted our own editorial review, which took all of these factors into consideration, and looked at how strong the alumni and student spirit was through their social engagement and program offerings.
Click here for the 75 Best Colleges in America for Food.
If you want to cheer on your favorite college football team, then, stop by one of these epic tailgates for a guaranteed good time!
#25 South Carolina State University
Bulldog tailgates mainly made it on this list for the quality food you’ll find in the tailgating lot. Elaborate spreads are accessible in a warm, welcoming environment that makes tailgating for the whole family enjoyable. There are a few restrictions as to where you can cook, so be sure to check the lot out before you commit.
#24 University of Michigan
We have one thing to say about theUniversity of Michigan’s tailgating experience: #GoBlue! Ok, we have a little more to say about it than that. The party starts when the lot opens at 7 a.m. and continues on until the beginning of the game, when dedicated fans head in for some quality field watching time. Roughly 90 minutes before the show, fans are invited in to watch the traditional drumline stepshow to get them psyched for the game. In the tailgating area, you’ll find a spacious lot where tailgaters can spread out to get their pre-game party on. On the way to the stadium, some fans hang out at the local Quickie Burger, which also serves breakfast all day for those who need a boost to last through the game. There are also plenty of surrounding spots to pick up a bite to eat if you don’t want to cook at the game.
For the full list, continue onto the next page and be sure to click through the slideshow to learn more about these incredible tailgates.