Also will be hitting up the Tennessee-Auburn game in Knoxville in 2009. Will give me an opportunity to compare LSU to Tennessee for overall gameday experience.
I know the SEC is unreal.... As an Iowa student now I was kind of hoping people would give input to the Big 10 and best games to possibly go to!
On a side note... I found my ISU tailgating attire this year, today. I can't want to get attacked by some of my fellow classmates this year during the ISU/Iowa game.
imho, the tailgating at ISU has gone way down hill since i was in school, but i think that a lot of it has to do with the administration trying to do what's best for the athletic department. good times in S-1 and S-2, and also on top of the buses. when they outlawed seating on the bus tops is when they lost a lot of the fun.
We've been to ISU, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Georgia Tech, Clemson and South Carolina. From our experience I've ranked as follows;
1. Iowa State University
3. University of South Carolina
4. Georgia Tech
5. The rest
I've always felt that ISU has great access, great crowd, and the perfect setting for a football afternoon. Clemson was very nice, we were able to park ouitside the stadium in the grass field to the east (I think). Death Valley was always rockin. South Carolina was good, I had a buddy that was hooked up with the Bud distributor across the street from Williams Bryce Stadium, Big Nasty alway had cold beer with the best chicken and ribs in the South.
Here is how the places I've been to rate:
1. Iowa State
2. Texas Tech - not many people but some huge grills/smokers and great food, and of course plenty of Lone Star beer.
3. Notre Dame - quite a bit like Ames, but more grass lots, less pavement
4. Iowa - Lots of friends, long walks
5. Northern Illinois - Terrible, and long lines for bathrooms and to get into the stadium.
6. Nebraska - They have no clue how to tailgate, period.
Also as a side note the Florida St. game at Arrowhead was maybe the most fun I have had at a tailgate, and the atmosphere inside the stadium that night was special.
1) Iowa State, no contest
2) Kansas State, similar to Ames but more hick and less rowdy. Nascar flags, grain elevator down the street, and they had to chase sheep out of the lot we were in. Manhattan is Boone with a college...
3) Iowa, layout sucks, but I'm always with friends who know somebody who has a spot to go
4) Mizzou, not a bad lay out, close to the stadium, but not that rowdy and Tiger fans were at best kind of stuffy and aloof, and at worst complete jackarses.
5) Nebraska, blech. Lincoln is pathetic when it comes to pregame. We walked around with a bag full of beer, which we had to dump into plastic cups. We finally found some Clones and had an alright time.
6) Minnesota, What I said about Lincoln goes double for a college football game downtown Minneapolis in the Metrodome. Not to mention I was with a bunch of Hawk fans. I don't like the Goofers much either. Not sure why I even went...
My first year of grad school at ISU (2003) we went to all of the ISU games home and away. On a side note if you can ever swing it to follow the team around for a fall it will be one of the most incredible experiences of your life, even if the team finishes 2-10....
Including that year I have been to ISU, Iowa, Northern Illinois, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State, and Texas.
ISU and Iowa take the cake by a mile as far as the actual tailgating goes, but as a total "weekend experience" Kansas, Kansas State, and Texas can also be added to the list.
I am a little suprised so many people rip tailgating in Lincoln. I have been to quite a few games there and always thought the tailgating wasn't all that bad... Not great, but not horrible.
I went to the Wisconsin-Iowa and Wisconsin-Michigan games last year. The tailgating and partying up there is unreal.
I would compare it to a mix of ours and Iowa's, with more pre-bar and house partying. They do have a decent amount of lots but there seems to be about 15,000 people in the two or three bars right across the street from the stadium. Camp Randall has a really cool atmosphere as well. The student section is amazing too, I only wish ours did a fraction of the antics they do.
Although I generally dislike Wisconsin sports, except when they play Iowa, the gameday atmosphere is second to none that I have attended.
Ku - sucked, but mainly bc my heart was ripped out on the terrible November day.
NU- ehhh, nothing special
KSU- like ours, but not as cool, and..... isn't Ames kinda like Boone with a college? haha just saying-
Iowa- ehhh, fun but wayyyy overhyped. The Iowa homers will claim that they have "The best tailgating in America", but that just isn't true. Unless you consider a hodge podge of house parties and random parking lots and awesome tailgate than that may be true.
I still think ISU is the best "true" tailgating but that is biased.
then the rest.
Of the Big 12 North that I have been to:
2 K-State - pretty close to us in atmosphere but you gotta hid the booze a little because it's a state park you are in. Just pour the beer in plastic cups and don't look stupid and the cops will walk right by and leave you alone
3. Mizzou - close to the stadium, it's nothing special but it's OK
4. Nebraska - was better than I thought but was mostly ISU fans when we went last year. Was told everyone just goes to the bars beforehand which is their "tailgating"
5. Kansas - it sucks because there is no big lots, you basically park in someone's yard or a frat house and up until last season no one really cared about football at KU so you basically drove around till you found a pocket of ISU fans
Have not been to Colorado
My best tailgate venues and why:
1) Iowa State
Very few college stadiums allow fans to park in the immediate proximity of the stadium en masse like Iowa State does. The large volume of fans wrapped around the stadium, plus the hospitality, generosity the volume of food and beer and humility of Iowa State make it IMHO the tailgating champion. Rows after rows after rows of friendly fans who will unload free beer and food on any stranger who happens by. About the only drawback to ISU's tailgating is that there is very little creativity in the cuisine. If I see more smokers, Polish BBQ trashcans ISU may very well pull away from the pack permanently. Iowa State's most endearing trait is the fact that any traveler who happens upon Jack Trice in Ames on a game day is going to be fed well, catch a beer buzz and make new friends with minimal effort.
2) University of Wisconsin - Madison
A football game at Camp Randall stadium is like Oktoberfest -- every weekend. The party atmosphere and cheer of the folks in Madison makes it easily the leader of the Big 10 Conference. Good brats, good beer and a huge number of really great bars in the immediate proximity of Camp Randall plus the fact that most Badger fans are rosy cheeked happy drunks make this one of my favorite places. Then there is the infamous "5th Quarter." Drawbacks there isn't ample parking close to the stadium so people have to tailgate in "pockets."
3) University of Washington - Seattle
Husky Stadium is situated in between Puget Sound and the shores of Lake Washington. Fans tie boats together and tailgate on the water, but you gotta know someone who is a big donor to get out on their area which is reserved as a premium for those who support the U. There are a lot of large RVs that "circle the wagons" to create courtyard areas for fans to congregate. Factor in the fresh seafood, great local brews and very laid back fans our visit to the Apple Cup last year was one of the highlights my tailgating experience. Tailgating is no where near on the scale of the midwest; it's isolated one fairly large strip parking lot a reasonable distance from the stadium and the boats. Washingtonians tend not to be as outgoing as midwesterners in bringing strange fans in to their tailgating fold.
4) University of Iowa
The University of Iowa tailgates bring all of the strengths of Iowa State's tailgating to the table; kind fans (unless you're Cyclone) who are eager to share the bounty of their gameday feasts with strangers and make new friends. The stroll along a crowded Melrose to the Market for some "roady" tallboys is one of my fondest memories of being a Hawkeye. Fans pile in to private property in nooks and crannies around the stadium and in to University Heights. The only problems plaguing the University of Iowa is that tailgates are spread over a very large area. From the Iowa River to the Dental College to way out on Melrose there is no single continuous area to cruise for brews and prognostications. I have also noticed that there tend to be a higher proportion of rowdy drunks than in other venues.
5) University of Tennessee - Knoxville
Here's another of college football's greatest tailgates on water. UT fans like their counterparts in Seattle tailgate on boats along the river right next to the stadium. They are also perhaps the most gourmet of tailgaters. There are a stupifying number of pickup trucks hauling smokers that cost well in to 5 figures, these people love to show up the night before and put as much effort in to their tailgating fare as they do to cheering on their team. UT fans tend to be somewhat abrasive, brash and confrontational and tend to stick to themselves. This is not exactly a tailgating environment where you want to show up without some friends who have friends.
KSU -- Really friendly fans, very heavy drinkers. In my opinion of places that I've visited in the Big 12 it is probably 2nd behind Iowa State. I wish I can say more but my memory is very fuzzy. I have minimal recollection of a really good time however.
CU-Boulder -- It's got great scenery. The fans are spoiled condescending turds, the tailgating spaces are limited and far between. If you can get to a game under the Flatirons with a bunch of Iowa State fans (I'll be there this fall) it's a breathtaking experience with some friendly people in Cardinal and Gold.
Worst places to tailgate:
Nebraska -- Expensive parking, overzealous alcohol enforcement and a long walk for to the game. Lincoln is one of the worst laid out cities I have ever been in. If you're going to the game, save your revelry for Omaha before and after the game.
Minnesota -- The Dome sucks. Parking sucks. The area is terrible. Mix in M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A, Minnesota, Minnesota, Minnesota! And you've got the worst tailgating in the midwest. I pray they are keeping these problems in mind when as they are building TCF Stadium.
I think Minnesota's tailgating will be better with their new stadium. Tailgating in downtown Minneapolis is garbage. I tried to tailgate for a Twins game once and we got kicked out of the lot... There are also very limited lots for Vikings games.... The thing about the U of M is that they're the 2nd act in town. Everyone cares about the Vikings more, and the college market is a little more of a niche in Minneapolis. I think that's why often times the road fans outnumber Minnesota's home fans.
Hopefully a stadium on campus will improve the college atmosphere for the games... Or maybe they will always be the 2nd act in town....
Broodwich, thanks for the breakdown. I would love some fresh seafood at the Washington tailgate.