Photo © Tina Rupp
Here comes college football's bowl season.
So exciting! Equally as exciting are the dispatches from the BCS tailgating front lines. Since the South takes its football—and tailgating—very seriously, we got intel on the top five parties in the Southeastern Conference.
Just look out for life-size Jell-O molds of Alabama coach Nick Saban's head.
The University of Alabama
Alabama has loyal tailgaters, like the Campus Veterans Association, which sets up a weekly party for people in the military, with supplies of food, beer and cornhole. But the Crimson Tide has some competition in the tailgating department, especially from rival Louisiana State University, which they recently beat. In UA's campus paper The Crimson White, UA alumnus Tyler Cummings said: “'Bama tailgates lean toward barbecue, burgers, hot dogs and sausages—I suppose more of the typical game-day cuisine. Even as a 'Bama alumnus, I'd have to say LSU has 'Bama beat hands down on the food at tailgates.”
Auburn residents who are devoted to the team but not so handy in the kitchen can contact the Tailgate Guys, a company dedicated to the art of tailgates. They'll set up all the equipment—tents, tables, coolers full of ice, beer koozies and even televisions—for groups of up to 60 people; they'll also clean up afterward. Customers can either pack their own food, or hire one of the Tailgate Guys caterers: Tailgate Chef, Chick-fil-A, Tiger Catering or Country's Barbecue.
University of Missouri
Mizzou tailgaters can plan their tailgate while supporting the school's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. The Mizzou Meat Market (nice name!) sells signature Tiger Tail brats and Tiger Tail burgers (both smartly striped with cheese) in addition to a huge variety of pork, beef, lamb and goat. Wine drinkers can pick up Mizzou Cellars Wine, made by local Missouri winemakers in collaboration with the school's Grape and Wine Institute.
Texas A&M University
In its September/October 2013 issue, Tailgater Monthly named Texas A&M the No. 1 tailgating college of 2013. No surprise: The school's College of Agriculture and Life Science has a Meat Science program, which offers coursework in meat science, meat selection and grading, food safety and more. The school's Texas Barbecue website is a comprehensive barbecue guide, from rub recipes to scientific explanations of why brisket and pork butt barbecue are so popular (it's all about the collagen in the muscle fibers).
The University of South Carolina
Gamecocks fans Chris and Kathy Fulmer recently won the 2013 National Collegiate Tailgating Championship in Atlanta, Georgia. There are competitions in dozens of categories: barbecue, drinks, clothing, pet clothing(!), jewelry, pet games, home brew, etc. The Fulmers won in 25 categories, spanning food, memorabilia and equipment. They operate Ultimate Tailgaters BBQ in Aiken, South Carolina, and they'll cater game-day events with beef brisket, pulled pork, spareribs, macaroni and cheese, banana pudding and more. All this makes me think I need to become a South Carolina fan.