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(By Paul Stanley) Each year millions of fans eagerly anticipate the start of the college football season. The rivalries and traditions unite both men and women, young and old, to cheer for their favorite teams. In addition to the gridiron activity, the Labor Day weekend also signals the start of the college football tailgating season. Welcome to the Tailgating SEC Style podcast.
While the exact origin of tailgating is hotly debated, the first recorded pre-game party occurred in an 1869 matchup between Rutgers and Princeton. Yet, in the modern era, few can argue that Southerners have elevated the art of tailgating to a new level.
Today there are 14 schools in the Southeastern Conference. Tailgater Magazine just released their list of the top 25 college tailgates, and nine of the 14 SEC tailgates made the list. I could also make a valid case for adding two others.
Topping the best college tailgates list is the University of Mississippi, affectionately known as the Ole Miss Rebels. LSU took the second spot, with Alabama, Georgia, and Texas A&M filling the fourth, fifth, and sixth positions.
In 2017 I decided to visit each SEC campus and write about the tailgating experience. Wow, what an incredible time I had. Southerners love to show off their homes. One thing that makes SEC tailgating so unique is that they often view their tailgating tents as an extension of their dining and living rooms. After all, how many people bring out their finest silver, candelabras, and chandeliers for a tailgate? The answer is an Ole Miss fan.
Known as “The Grove,” the 10-acre, tree-covered area in the middle of the Ole Miss campus transforms itself into a sea of 10x10 tents before each home football game. Students mingle with alumni and die-hard fans to enjoy a few hours of stylish socializing.
Over in East Tennessee and along the banks of the Tennessee River, fans tailgate with the Vol Navy on a flotilla of houseboats and small yachts. Down in Louisiana, LSU fans exchange the style and elegance of their Mississippi rivals for some of the finest jambalaya and gumbo cooked over large fires that you’ll ever taste. And these are only a few of the traditions that make SEC tailgating special.
After three years of writing about SEC tailgates, the 2021 season marks the beginning of the Tailgating SEC Style podcast. Although longtime fans of each SEC team will find the episodes interesting, each episode is created with new and visiting fans in mind. Although the format examines tailgating at football games, the information covered is helpful when visiting the campus or area for any reason.
We’ll discuss where to stay, places to eat and drink, sights to see, and most importantly, how visiting fans can immerse themselves in the tailgating scene at SEC every school.
To learn about the traditions and customs of southern tailgating, join host Paul Stanley and guests for Tailgating SEC Style.
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