Tailgating and football go hand in hand, but on college campuses around the country, the fans often take it to another level. The union of football and tailgating is a marriage celebrated every Saturday with a “renewal of vows.”
It’s a combination of passionate, lifelong fans, the excitement of young college crowds, and of course, the good ol’ pigskin.
Another college football season is almost here. Get out the grill, stock up the cooler, and let the party begin!
Here’s a look at the top four tailgating schools in college football. This is not a scientific list, but rather one that was ranked based on, err…OK, my biases.
Mississippi is home to the legendary Grove, Ole Miss’ tailgating location for generations. A 10-acre, tree-lined area which does not allow automobiles, the Grove is a mecca for Rebel fans and one of the most unique tailgating environments in college football.
Tailgating and football have been one and the same here since the game first took hold over 100 years ago. Unlike some places where the fans are rowdy, the atmosphere at the Grove is welcoming, family-friendly, and even “sublime.”
2014 was a special year in Oxford. With coach Hugh Freeze’s guidance, Ole Miss finally had a football team worthy of its tailgating success. The Rebels won nine games and upset then-No. 1 Alabama at home, sending The Grove into convulsions of excitement.
You can find all sorts of Southern food there and a genteel atmosphere that lends itself to incredible people-watching. Tailgating goes above and beyond at Ole Miss. It’s a must-do for any serious college football fan.
If you have a college football bucket list, an LSU home game has to be on the list. It’s one of the most unique and raucous environments in college football, both for the experience inside Tiger Stadium and the atmosphere that surrounds it.
Tiger Stadium seats 102,321, which makes it the fifth-largest city in Louisiana on game days. LSU fans are rabid, arriving well before games in their RVs and setting up tailgates across campus well before kickoff on Saturday.
Louisiana knows how to do one thing better than any state in the country—Cajun! The dishes you’ll see prepared on a Saturday outside the stadium are truly amazing. Not only do you have some of the nation’s best fans, but they bring the absolute best food to the table too—duck, gumbo, sausage, craw fish, etouffee, and grilled alligator.
The food might be better than the football. LSU fans are friendly and willing to share with visitors, and they cook numerous Cajun and Creole dishes that are a delight to the senses. It’s a unique experience and may be the best in college football.
Since his arrival eight years ago, Nick Saban has done plenty to restore Alabama to national relevance, most notably with three national championships. But even before Saban came to town, the Crimson Tide already boasted a rabid fan base. His success has only ignited their fervor.
Following a recent expansion, Bryant-Denny Stadium now boasts a seating capacity of 101,821, and Crimson Tide football remains one of the toughest tickets to get in America.
It’s also a fun tailgating experience, with some fans arriving days in advance to claim parking spots for their large motorhomes.
Chances are, you’ll hear more than your share of “Sweet Home Alabama” and, with an Alabama win, the famous “Rammer Jammer” chant. It’s a must for any serious college football fan.
The fans at Texas A&M have been compared to a cult. They take their football so seriously that the old saying “Football is a religion in Texas” couldn’t possibly ring truer.
Texas A&M is only beginning its fourth season in the SEC, but the Aggies have shown they’re a perfect fit for the league on the field and in the tailgates. College Station lives for Aggie football, and it starts on Friday nights before home games with Midnight Yell practice.
Following a recent $450 million renovation, Kyle Field seats 102,512 fans, making it the SEC’s largest stadium and the fourth-largest in college football.
Be sure to try some brisket and beer while you’re in town, and don’t forget to visit the gravesite of A&M’s Reveille collie mascots outside Kyle Field, which famously has a working scoreboard on site.
Graham is as Southern as black-eyed peas, scuppernong wine, she-crab soup, Crimson Tide tailgating and a dog with ticks. She is so relentlessly Southern she makes me feel that I was born in Minnesota!