A few weeks ago when I plopped down on the couch to watch the South Carolina Gamecocks take on the UNC Tarheels, my body was in Houston, but my soul was in Columbia, SC. Just seeing Williams-Brice Stadium on our flat screen, brought back a flood of college football memories. I had goosebumps as the team took the field, while 2001 played in my head!
No longer able to pack up my gear, drive 20 minutes down the road, and tailgate in the SC Fairgrounds, the memories of going to the games are alive and well. While its rare that my Dad, brother and I are able to watch the games together, we still burn up our data plans as we text back and forth, cheering, ranting and second guessing the coaches and players.
At home with family, or in a sports bar with friends and alum, new college football memories are made every Saturday in the fall. Today, I opened an e-mail from Dad and he sent me a joke about the differences between college football in the North vs. the South. Its funny and in a lot of cases true, so I’m sharing them with my personal spin!
College Gameday North vs. South
NORTH: College football stadiums hold 20,000 people.
SOUTH: High school football stadiums hold 20,000 people.
Fall Friday nights from middle school through high school meant meeting friends and standing in the bleachers cheering our team, followed by burgers, fries and shakes afterwards. There’s nothing like a Rush’s chili cheeseburger and chocolate shake after a team victory.
NORTH: Expect their daughters to understand Sylvia Plath.
SOUTH: Expect their daughters to understand pass interference.
I probably learned this as a toddler, as well as the difference between the offense and defense, how to properly yell at the television, and how to throw the perfect spiral. See the Nerf football in the photo above, we spent a lot of time tossing that ball around while watching football.
NORTH: Also a physics major.
SOUTH: Also Miss America.
If she’s from Alabama, she may even wear a one of a kind Roll Tide dress.
NORTH: Rudy Giuliani
SOUTH: Bear Bryant, Archie & Peyton Manning, Bo Jackson
Or any player that won or was nominated for the Heisman trophy.
NORTH: 5 days before game day you walk into the ticket office on campus & buy tickets.
SOUTH: 5 months before the game you walk into the ticket office on campus, make a significant financial contribution and add name to waiting list for tickets.
Freshman year at Auburn, and my professor gave me a pass to miss class so I could stand in line and get my student ticket for the season, confirming I made the right decision in choosing a college!
Friday Classes After a Thursday Night Game:
NORTH: Students and teachers weight the pros and cons of going to the game, because
they have Friday classes.
SOUTH: Professors cancel Friday classes.
NORTH: An hour before game time, the University opens campus for game parking.
SOUTH: RVs decked out in school colors & flags begin arriving on Wednesday for the weekend, die hard fans roll into town on Tuesday.
Freshman year at Auburn, we were undefeated going into the Alabama game. RVs started parking on campus Monday evening, and by Tuesday all of the areas around my dorm were parking spots for campers and rabid fans. It was so insane that classes from Wednesday on were canceled because you couldn’t get around town or campus!
NORTH: Some students party in the dorm while watching ESPN on TV.
SOUTH: Every student wakes up and rushes over (unless they camped out there the night before), often covered head to toe in body paint, to where ESPN is broadcasting College Gameday to get on camera with hand made signs and wave to the students up north who wonder why ‘Game Day Live‘ never visits their campus.
NORTH: Meat on the grill, drinks with lime in it, listening to local radio station with truck tailgate down.
SOUTH: 30-foot custom pig-shaped smoker starts cooking ribs and brisket at dawn, multiple TVs are set up with satellite coverage of other college games. Tailgating includes live music from Hootie and the Blowfish. During breaks the band comes over for a cold beer and a bite to eat. These days its just Darius, but when I was a student it was Hootie!
Best part about Gamecock tailgating, the “railgating” in a Cockaboose. Where else can you tailgate from the inside of a caboose that sells for over $200k? If you ever have the opportunity to go inside a Cockaboose, DO IT!
Getting to the Stadium:
NORTH: You ask ‘Where’s the stadium?’
SOUTH: If you’re anywhere near it, you’ll hear it, on game day it is the state’s third largest city.
NORTH: Drinks served in a paper cup, filled with Pop.
SOUTH: Drinks served in a large souvenir cup, with the home team’s mascot or football schedule on it. And don’t forget the boiled peanuts!
During the National Anthem:
NORTH: Stands are less than half full, and less than 50% of the fans stand up.
SOUTH: 100,000 fans, all standing, sing along in perfect four-part
harmony, even though not everyone gets the lyrics right, and sometimes there’s fireworks or a fly-over
After the Game:
NORTH: Stadium empties out long before the game ends.
SOUTH: Another rack of ribs goes on the grill, fresh drinks are mixed, Darius Rucker plays, and we plan the menu for next week’s game. Why fight traffic when you can hang out with friends and celebrate or talk about why your team lost the game?
In Auburn a win is followed by a walk to Toomer’s Corner, where students, fans, cheerleaders and even just curious onlookers, gather to roll the oaks with toilet paper. Speaking from experience, there’s no greater college football tradition.
We always stayed until the game was over out of respect for our team. Rain or shine, we stayed until the fat lady sang. There’s nothing like walking out of the stadium chanting “Gamecocks” with thousands of other fans! I feel lucky to have a passion for college football, and experienced Saturdays in the south.
Do you have any favorite college gameday traditions?