The Best Colleges for Tailgating (Slideshow)
August 22, 2013
Get your game face (or beer face) on: where to find the best tailgates
13. Texas A&M University
The party at Texas A&M begins many hours before kickoff, thanks to the "Midnight Yell" on Kyle Field (because, you know, you have to get pumped up for this). But Texas A&M has other rich traditions unlike any other school to make way for game day, including the Corps march about 1 ½ hours before kickoff, or simply hanging near the giant maroon tailgating buses throughout campus. They may not be as rowdy as other schools on the list (trust us, there's still plenty of beer around), but Aggies’ tailgates celebrate the spirit of the game.
12. University of South Carolina
Never heard of a "Cockaboose," eh? That’s where you’ll find the majority of SC fans, on the railroad tracks near the stadium. "Cockabooses" are repurposed, South Carolina-themed cabooses that are fully equipped for all your tailgating needs. (Oh, you know, they only cost about $200,000 or so.) You’ll find all the flat-screen TVs, fully stocked bars, and food you’ll need to get ready to cheer on Cocky the mascot.
11. University of Tennessee
There’s a lot to love at the University of Tennessee tailgates — good food, passionate fans, lots of beer. But what makes Tennessee’s tailgate stand out are its, well "sail-gates." That’s right, Neyland Stadium is right on the Tennessee River, which inspired a group of alumni and sailing enthusiasts to create "the Vol Navy" back in 1962 to tailgate right on the river. Because why fight the crowds in the stadium when you can eat, drink, and play on waterslides (seriously) while watching the Vols fight on? It’d take a lot for us to skip a college ball game entirely, but that boat situation is certainly enticing.
10. Pennsylvania State University
Penn State football games draw crowds upward of 100,000 fans, so it’s no surprise that the university is a top tailgating school. And it’s all thanks to "Nittanyville," the tent city students set up before game day to get the best seats in the student section. Needless to say, things get rowdy, and fast.
9. University of Nebraska
Huskers football isn’t just a one-tent setup for game day; it’s an all-town, all-day festival with more than enough beer and brats to go around. Fans don’t just set up tents for game day (although the tents you’ll find are decked out to the nines with satellite TVs and more than enough food and beer to feed a small Huskers army); they head downtown to the Historic Haymarket, where the party just keeps going and going.
8. University of Michigan
Yeah, we’re not surprised: According to the 2010 census, says Bleacher Report, Ann Arbor, Mich., becomes the second-largest city in the state every Saturday during football season. When Michigan played Notre Dame in 2010, the number of fans that showed up to the stadium (114,804) was more than the number of people actually living in Ann Arbor (113,934). We'd say that makes for one crazy tailgate. If you’re not wearing maize and blue, you better get on home.
7. University of Florida
We know how you Gators roll: like every game is the biggest party you’ll ever go to. For out-of-towners, you can crash with the students or rent parking at a house on University Avenue for about $10 to $30; although it’s not necessarily included in your parking price, you can usually party with the students and join in on the beer pong and grilling fun. If you happen to get a spot on campus grass, be forewarned: taking alcohol onto the nearby street can get you a hefty ticket. But once you head to the Swamp, you’ll be ready and beer-ed up for the action.
6. University of Georgia
5. University of Mississippi
Ole Miss is home to what’s known as the most famous tailgating spot in the world, the Grove. An estimated 25,000 begin the party the Friday night before Saturday games, with fans decked in their Sunday best (and zero body paint in sight). Really, only The New York Times could describe it so vividly: "It is every kind of party you can describe, at once: cocktail party, dinner party, tailgate picnic party, fraternity and sorority rush, family reunion, political handgrab, gala and networking party-hearty — what might have inspired Willie Morris, one of Mississippi’s favorite sons, to declare Mississippi not a state, but a club." The Grove is the opening act to a true Ole Miss tradition, the Walk of Champions.
4. Louisiana State University
LSU doesn’t just take the cake for being one of the most fervent tailgates; it’s also one of the most sophisticated tailgates — well, culinary-wise, anyways — in the country. After all, where else can you get a true Cajun cookout while decked out in your Tiger gear? Jambalaya, Cajun sausage, and alligator stew are as common as a burger and brat anywhere else. (As ESPN once put it, Food Network should get on getting broadcast rights just for LSU game day). Tiger Stadium instantly becomes the fifth-largest city in the state on game day, while the team and fans suit up for some killer football.
3. University of Alabama
It should be no surprise that ‘Bama consistently ranks as one of the best schools for tailgating, from Bleacher Report to Southern Living. Heck, there’s even the Tailgate Beer and the Alabama Tailgate Cookbook — does that solidify its ranking near the top? Crowds on the quad on Game Day are estimated to top 100,000 fans for the bigger rivalries, like LSU or Texas A&M. Before you start singing "Roll Tide," slam down a Yellowhammer (yep, it’s a drink that really does exist) and get ready to root for the number-one seeded college team this year.
2. University of Southern California
At this football powerhouse, fans get to campus hours before kickoff to park their behinds along Trousdale, and set up elaborate tailgating contraptions (think chandeliers and flat-screen TVs). You’ll hear plenty of the So-Call spell-out cheer while grilling, boozing, and generally partying it up on game day before making the short walk to the Coliseum. Be sure to follow the band as it plays around campus and partake in the game-day tradition of kicking the flagpole at the edge of campus for good luck (just be forewarned: don’t attempt this too aggressively in a pair of flip-flops). The true craziness of a USC tailgate is only amped up for UCLA games, where you’ll find plenty of UCLA teddy bears dragged around campus or hung up in trees. (Yeah, it gets weird.)
1. Auburn University
Tailgating at Auburn just got a little easier, thanks to the university’s brand-new plan to open an extra 2,000 parking spots around campus just for game day. After all, this is one university that takes its tailgates very seriously; fans start lining up in their campers days before game day, decked out in their Tiger-inspired gear. What’s more, Auburn University cemented the school tradition of the pregame walk with the players to the stadium, called the Tiger Walk. And then you know, bring some extra rolls of toilet paper so you can TP the crap out of Toomer’s Corner should the Tigers win. Let’s just say, game day in Auburn is a spectacle unlike any other.