Posted Jan. 8, 2015

Oct 8, 2010

Tailgating Under Attack

The single greatest tailgate I ever experienced took place on Sept. 14, 2002.

The occasion was a Penn State-Nebraska game. The location (of the tailgate, not the game) was “the IM field,” a beautiful little slice of green located conveniently between “the IM building” and the giant erector set known to college football fans everywhere as Beaver Stadium.

The IM field is no longer open to general tailgating, and will soon be engulfed by a $90 million hockey arena (yeah!), but these details are not necessarily pertinent to the current discussion. What is pertinent to the current discussion is the fact that the IM field was open to general tailgating on Sept. 14, 2002—a lovely day, I must say, that ended with My Beloved Penn State Nittany Lions crushing the seventh-ranked Cornhuskers, 40-7, before 110,753 happy campers at the Beav.

The result of the game, of course, was perfect ending to Another Perfect Day In Happy Valley.

But the result of the game was not the only reason for that day’s perfection. Or even the biggest reason, really.

No, the day was perfect, instead, mostly because of That Memorable Tailgate—the greatest tailgate I ever experienced, and the tailgate that, ultimately and unfortunately, has basically spoiled me for life.

Because, you see, folks, as superb as that tailgate was, and as grateful as I am for having experienced it, I have never had another tailgate quite as good.


Now, please don’t cry for me, folks.

I mean, I’ve had good tailgates over the past eight years. Some very good tailgates, actually.

But I’ve also had a couple clunkers.

Weather played a part in a few them. I mean, there was that three-year period during which each and every of our tailgates seemed to be rained on (and I mean, rained on, folks) by hurricanes (yes, hurricanes!) and/or Deluges Of Historic Proportions. Cold rain and wind do not make for fine tailgating, I assure you.

Unfortunately, not all of the clunkers could be passed off on Mother Nature. There were other forces at hand. Dark, evil forces.

And that’s what I want to talk to you about today.

Because you see, folks, our once-perfect-and-often-wonderful college football tailgating culture is under attack. By being that I can only describe as ... jackals.

They are flooding into Our Sacred Tailgating Grounds in droves. They are loud and drunk and stupid. And they’re ruining the fun for everybody.

Now, it’s not difficult, I assure you, to tailgate properly. It really isn’t.

Broadly speaking, you need only to follow The (Al) Golden Rule. Which is comprised of three basic tenets: Have fun. Root for your team. Don’t be a jerk.

That’s basically it.

You would think The (Al) Golden Rule would just about cover things—that it would ensure happy, safe and entirely glorious tailgating for all. But apparently it doesn’t, because my recent experiences up at Happy Valley Aka The Greatest Place On Earth and elsewhere suggest that there’s a whole nation of jackals who need much more specific instruction on how to properly comport themselves during college football tailgates.

So, as a public service to College Football Nation, I shall now share those specific instructions here.

Please print these out, share with your friends and neighbors and post for all to see at your favorite tailgating spots.

Enjoy, folks.

Down with the jackals.


Tailgating Rule No. 1: Stay In Your Spot.

It’s pretty simple, jackals.

As tailgaters, we are all assigned a single parking space. That single parking space—plus the a few feet or so surrounding that single parking space—is your spot.

It’s the same deal for everyone. Including you, jackals.

You park your car. You set up your stuff.

And then you stay. In your spot.

You don’t impinge upon neighbor’s spot. You don’t put your electric generator in their spot. You don’t have so many (loud, obnoxious) guests at your tailgate that those guests spill over into your neighbor’s spot. You don’t pee in your neighbor’s spot. You don't do anything in your neighbor's spot.

What do you do?.

You do this: You stay. In your spot.

Tailgating Rule No. 2: Garbage Bags Are Wonderful Products. And, Believe You Me, They Are Widely Available!

There are these things called “garbage bags.” They have been developed by really smart human beings with chemistry degrees toward a single goal: Helping you, a jackal, disposes of your jackal garbage and recycling (photo of jackal garbage damage----->).

Here’s how it works: When you are done drinking your horrible beer and when you are done dancing to your horrible music and just moments before you pee on your neighbors car, you: 1. Locate the aforementioned “garbage bag.;” 2. You place your horrible beer can inside the aforementioned “garbage bag.”


Just like that, and just for a moment, you will not be a terrible human being.

Seriously, folks. As Penn Stater, it absolutely pains to see how our once-pristine tailgating fields now look on most fall Sunday mornings. Trash—unspeakable amounts of trash—everywhere. I mean, everywhere. And here’s the thing: The university actually hands out free garbage bags.

Free garbage bags!

And people still don’t use them.

Tailgating Rule No. 3: Trust Us. We Have No Interest In Listening To Your Crappy Music.

No tailgate is complete without good music. Without good tailgating music, that is.

Which, to my mind, includes music played by the following: Any college football band except college football bands from the SEC, where the bands are horrible, and any musical artist that plays music derived in some way from “Americana” (for clarification on Americana, see: here). Put another way, if you can’t hear it at halftime of a college football game, or if you can’t hear it on American Routes, you probably shouldn’t be playing it at your tailgate.

That being said, I understand that not all people have good taste in music, and I certainly understand that if they want to listen to their horrible music, they should of course be allowed to play it at their tailgate.

But here’s the thing, jackals: I don’t want to hear your crappy music at my tailgate. Nobody else wants to hear it, either.

So here’s a handy little test: If you take more than 4,000 steps outside your spot and you can still hear your Lady Gaga or your Journey or your Neil Diamond, it’s too damn loud.

No, you do not need subwoofers for your tailgate. No, you don't not need to play your Neil Diamond at 5,000 decibels. No, you do not need to advertise your horrible taste in music.

All you need at your tailgate is a radio/car stereo/iPod dock just big enough and just loud enough to play your horrible music from one end of your spot to the other end of your spot—but just small enough and just quiet enough to ensure that the rest of us don’t have to endure your musical shortcomings.

By the way, I fear for our future. I really do.

Tailgating Rule No. 4: Please Dear God Don’t Drink Embarrassing Products.

Natty Light. Keystone Light. Bankers Club Vodka.

Whatever your horribly cheap and awful drink of choice may be, it’s, well, wrong.

Yes, jackals, quality counts.

You only have so many days here on God’s Green Earth. Which means that every time you drink a beer that includes the word “light” (or “lite” [shudder]) you have wasted an opportunity wasted to drink A Beer That Matters. Every time to chug warm vodka mixed with orange soda or some other awful "mixer" you are wasting an opportuntiy to drink A Cocktail With Class (pictured ----->)

College football fans should only drink the good stuff, jackals.

College football fans should only drink with panache (if you don’t know what “panache” means, please head directly to your nearest NFL stadium).

Tailgating Rule No. 5: If You Don’t Treat Visiting Fans With Respect, It Would Maybe Be Better If You Were Placed On House Arrest On Autumn Saturdays.

This is the big one. And the last one.

I have to be honest: I’ve never understood why some fans find it necessary to badger/abuse/taunt opposing fans.

I suppose in their weird, warped and deeply sad and insecure minds, they believe that by cursing at people wearing a different colored jersey, that by making these poor visiting fans generally miserable, they are contributing to an “inhospitable stadium atmosphere” that will somehow compel their team to victory. I suppose they believe that if they spit on children or physically assault women or punch old people cheering for the other team, that they are doing their part to “win.”

But of course this is utter nonsense.

Beyond that, it’s depressing. It’s bush league. It's the biggest reason why tailgates aren’t as fun as they used to be. The atmosphere of civility and mutual respect that once was a hallmark of the college football experience is dying. And this makes me incredibly sad.

Believe me, jackals, the best tailgating days I’ve ever enjoyed have including drinking a (non-crappy) beer or two with the fans from the other side. Swapping college stories. Talking football. Showing them the sites. Offering them advice on which bars and taverns to hit. Heck, maybe heading out to those bars and taverns with them.

It’s not hard, jackals. It’s really not.

And here’s the good news: We can have again what we have sadly lost.

But it’s all in your hands now.

The rules are there. Follow them if you wish.

Or ignore them. At our collective college football peril.

Out and about: news and notes you may have missed

• The state of Michigan needs this. And I am very, very serious about that. As we all know, times have not been good for the good folks of Michigan lately. The auto industry is a shell of itself. The city of Detroit lays in ruins (literally). Ain’t nobody moving to Michigan and ain’t nobody sticking around, either. But there is hope, Michiganders. Because your Michigan Wolverines are 5-0, your Michigan State Spartans are 5-0, and when the old-time rivals take the field at The Big House this Saturday, they will be taking part in the Undisputed Game Of The Week (honest question: Does ESPN College GameDay really need to be at another Alabama game?), not to mention the most interesting Sparty-Wolverines matchup since, probably, 1991. On one sideline you’ve got the rough-and-tumble Spartans, led by linebacker Greg Jones playing for their still-recovering coach and trying to outrace their miserable history. On the other sideline you’ve got the Wolverines, led by The Fastest Player In Big Ten History And Greatest Player In America, playing for respect and trying to outrace their unbelievably inept defense. It’s a classic matchup—I honestly have no idea how this one is gonna turn out—and figures to be one of the most entertaining games of the season, if not the decade. So yes, people in Michigan are excited: According to StubHub, the Sparty-Wolverine game was the hottest—and most expensive—ticket in college football this week.

• These are not happy times in Athens, folks. As you most likely know, and as Longtime TCFA Reader Unsouthern Southern Guy Brian Schleter most definitely knows, the Georgia Bulldogs are now 1-4. They have lost four straight. And if they lose to the Tennessee Volunteers (2-3, by the way) this weekend, they will have endured their first five-game losing streak since freaking 1951. So, yes, as you might imagine, the heat is most certainly on Georgia Coach Mark Richt, who is currently about as popular in Georgia as William Tecumseh Sherman, the world's first Big Ten coach. And I have to say, I think the pressure is starting to freak Richt out a little bit. Evidence? This: He is now taking advice from callers to his radio show. As recounted this week by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a woman (surely a busy professional calling from her towncar) identified only as “Jill in Hoschton” told Richt that she would like him to lead the team out of the tunnel “like SABAN does.” [Editor’s Note: Can you imagine how hard it must have been for Richt to not up and leave the studio at that very moment?]. But here’s the thing, folks: Richt is gonna do it. Because Jill in Hoschton told him to! As The Clearly Starting-To-Freak-Out Coach told the weirdo caller: “You make a good point, and here’s what I’m going to do, Jill. I’m going to lead the pack coming out of that tunnel, OK? Now, I hope I don’t pull a hamstring and I hope they don’t run me over. But I think it’s a good suggestion. So just look for Coach Richt to lead the pack.” More on this still-unfolding disaster below.

quick hits: straight and to the point

• Happy birthday to my wife, the beautiful and talented Mrs. Your Editor, who not only makes this site possible (she designed it, hosts it, etc.), but also makes the TCFA Podcast possible (she figured out the labyrithnian rules of Apple's iTunes), and also makes it possible for Your Editor to spend roughly 12 hours each Autumn Saturday watching college football. She is a peach, folks. In her honor, I will run a photo of Jimmy Rollins, whom she is in love with.

• Speaking of the Phils ... congrats to Roy Halladay for throwing that no-hitter on Wednesday night against the Red. I tell ya, folks, "Doc" is one heck of a pitcher. He is almost as good as Cliff Lee. Yes, that good.

• More news about Mark Richt being attacked from all sides and generally being treated like garbage by people in Georgia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution actually ran these two sentences: “The "Fulmerizing" of Richt has begun. The verb is found in no dictionary, but it's very real. It's rooted in the experiences of Fulmer, who is now doing what many former coaches do — television.” People in the South are unforgiving, folks.

• Speaking of Fulmer, what does the former Tennessee coach—and my oh my you can bet those Vols fans miss Fulmer now, huh?—think of Richt’s coaching ability? This: “He didn't all of a sudden get dumb.” That’s why CBS pays the man the big money.

• Which team has faced the toughest schedule in the nation? Well it’s got to be Oregon State, right? The Beavers have already played No. 4 Boise State and No. 5 TCU. They will play No. 9 Arizona (overrated, by the way) this week. Later in the year they’ll have No. 16 Stanford and No. 3 Oregon. I am sure I speak for all of College Football Nation when I say: Kudos, Mike Riley. For scheduling like a man (yes, I’m looking at you, SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten athletic directors).

• How bad is Michigan’s pass defense? This bad: The Wolverines currently rank last in the nation—that’s 120th out of 120—in pass defense. They are giving up 50 yards more per game than any other team in the nation. YEAH GREG ROBINSON.

• Speaking of Michigan, The Snake-Oil Salesman Wearing A Wizard’s Hat was asked this week to address the perception among some in Big Blue Nation that he hasn’t taken the Michigan State-Michigan rivalry seriously enough (RichRod is currently 0-2 vs. Sparty). The Wizard didn’t like the question. Said The Wizard: “The past couple years this has been just as important to me and my players as it was to them. They just won the last two games. To portray some kind of perception otherwise, I think that’s just a lot of talk.” YEAH TALK.

• Penn State, which has The Most Searingly Painful-To-Watch Red Zone Offense In Recent College Football History, is tinkering with the idea of using Kevin Newsome—imagine a Northern Josh Nesbitt, but stronger, faster, and an even more terrible passer—in short-yardage situations. PLEASE DEAR GOD DO THIS.

• Looking for picks? Well, click here.

• Looking for this week's podcast? Well ... check back here sometime this afternoon. Co-Host Mike was not back from Texas (he attended last week's Red River Rivalry game) in time for our usual Wednesday night recording at TCFA Studios, so we had to push things back a day. No worries, though, folks, we'll have an exciting new podcast up for your enjoyment by 4 p.m. or so. Once 4 p.m. or so rolls around, you'll be able to find the podcast here.

• Finally, I would encourage all of you to follow TCFA on Facebook and on Twitter. By doing so, you'll catch all the latest breaking news from The Land Of The Intelligent Football Fan.

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