1 of 8
2 of 8
Auburn University Tigers
Colors: Orange & Blue
Huge RVs from all over the Southeast descend upon the “loveliest little village on the plains” each Friday afternoon during football season, claiming their spot for the weekend. Students and fans not rollin’ in RVs mark off their chosen patch of grass or parking lot with tape. They’re all anxious to be a part of one of the school’s most hallowed tailgating experiences: The Tiger Walk. On game day, the team bus arrives two hours before kick-off, and the team is lead through the crowd by the pep band, cheerleaders and Aubie.
Claim to Fame: The “we’re all a big AU family” atmosphere is a hallmark of Auburn tailgating, and other sights and sounds include fans inviting strangers to share some snacks or sit in the shade, and everyone greeting everyone else with a hearty “War Eagle!”
3 of 8
University of Alabama Crimson Tide
Colors: Crimson & White
Mascot: Big Al the elephant
On the “quad,” the centerpiece of Alabama’s tailgating areas, it is not unusual to see three or four generations of family celebrating the Crimson Tide together. And they’re most often eating Alabama BBQ; starting at dawn, hickory-scented smoke wafts through the air, as cooks prepare their tailgate feasts. With so many folks traveling to T-town on football Saturdays — there can be close to 100,000 for the big games — it’s also not unusual to see multiple big-screen TVs hooked up and blaring from many of the tents, since not everyone has a ticket to the game.
Claim to Fame: A given at any Alabama tailgate is hospitality. The Tide nation has become known for the kindness it extends to visiting fans; it’s been particularly noticed by those from outside the South.
4 of 8
University of South Alabama Jaguars
Colors: Red, White & Blue
Mascot: SouthPaw and Miss Pawla the Jaguars
For USA fans, Jag City and the surrounding areas on campus are the places to be on game day. Cheerleaders wander through the tailgating spaces, spreading team spirit and leading groups in chants. The band does the same, providing some feisty fight songs as background music for the tailgaters. And then there’s “The Prowl,” when the team walks the street shaking hands, accepting pats on the back and good luck wishes before heading off to the locker room to prepare for the game.
Claim to Fame: New this year in Jag City is the Food for Less Fanfest, featuring food sampling and a photo booth for capturing pictures with SouthPaw.
5 of 8
University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Rebels
Colors: Crimson & Navy
Mascot: Rebel the Black Bear
The folks at Ole Miss have taken tailgating to an entirely different level. Here, tents in the famous “Grove” area (a 10-acre park full of ancient oaks) feature crystal chandeliers, silver candelabras, fine table linens and professionally arranged floral centerpieces. Fans, especially students, are dressed up: girls in flirty dresses and boys in khakis and button-down shirts. And then there’s the food; there’s no grilling allowed in the Grove, but that’s okay. You’ll find everything from Mississippi mud pie to roasted oysters. The saying in Oxford is, “We may not win the game, but we always win the party.”
Claim to Fame: Most college teams have a special cheer, but Ole Miss’ Hotty Toddy chant is one of the most interesting. The phrase “Hotty Toddy” may not actually mean anything, but it means plenty to Ole Miss fans.
6 of 8
Troy University Trojans
Colors: Cardinal, Black & Silver
Tailgating didn’t really start at Troy until the early 1990s. Today though, it’s a crucial component of every Trojan game day. Troy tailgates include The Trojan Walk where both fans and players amp up their team spirit. The Trojan faithful set up their tents all over campus, but the popular Green Davis Tailgate Terrace outside the gates of Veterans Memorial Stadium honors one of the men who got Troy’s tailgating going. It’s named for a former Marine and city worker who was killed in an accident in 1993.
Claim to Fame: When it comes to food at Troy tailgates, you’ll find the basics, but some Trojan fans like to “cook the competition,” whipping up themed dishes, especially when Sun Belt Conference opponents from Louisiana come to play.
7 of 8
Jacksonville State University Gamecocks
Colors: Red & White
Tailgating at JSU starts early; on Thursdays before home games, the RV lot opens at noon. Then there’s a pep rally. On Friday, more folks arrive for alumni-hosted functions, and by early Saturday morning, the campus fills up with fans quick, with folks setting up in the same spots they have for decades to root on “ole Jax State.” But at JSU, students don’t have to battle the crowds to get a spot for pre-game fun. The university has set aside Dillon Field for the use of student organizations.
Claim to Fame: The music of the Marching Southerners Band draws people from their parties and into the stadium before the game actually starts. Their pre-kickoff performance is always a highlight.
8 of 8
University of Georgia Bulldogs
Colors: Black & Red
Georgia’s campus is set amid some of the prettiest scenery in the South, the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Tailgates here are scattered throughout campus; pretty much anywhere there’s a flat space (a precious commodity), there’s a tent. And Georgia fans are serious about carrying on their tailgate traditions as evidenced by some of their highly organized groups. One, the G.A.T.A. LLC (Greater Athens Tailgate Association), started with 30 members in the mid-eighties and now includes more than 120 families.
Claim to Fame: Before the Georgia-Florida game, the fans throw what’s been dubbed the “largest outdoor cocktail party in the world.” The game is held in Jacksonville, Fla., each year, and massive crowds tailgate on boats in the nearby St. John’s River.