Power Ranking the Best Tailgating Scenes in the SEC
The SEC is the best of the best in the college universe, on the field and off.
There is no better conference on the field, as proven by seven consecutive BCS championships.
There is no better conference off the field, as proven by the tremendous tailgating scene, even at SEC cellar-dwellers.
This list runs down every SEC program, ranking each school based on the tailgating experience from worst to first.
Let's just be clear: There is no bad place to tailgate in the SEC. Every school has it's own traditions, and each one offers a unique take on the game-day tailgating experience. Some are just better than others.
Maybe we finally found somewhere Alabama is not ranked number one.
When tailgating comes to mind, Missouri is not one of the first schools that pops up.
Hence the position at the bottom of this list.
Beyond the standard grilled fare and beverages of choice offered at just about every other tailgate in the country, there is little unique to set apart the Mizzou tailgate.
The fans, while friendly, are not as dedicated as the average SEC fanbase. But there are pockets of loyal, intense supporters who will argue the merits of the program at the drop of a hat.
The food is good, and the fans are good, but tailgating at Missouri is average.
13. Mississippi State
At "The Junction" the Mississippi State party begins the evening before a game with a rousing rendition of "Hail State."
This signals the start of festivities, as fans set up their awnings and break out the dreaded cowbells for a party of epic proportions.
Given the fact that the Bulldogs have struggled mightily, even in recent seasons when things have been slightly better for the program, the dedication and level of knowledge found in fans is admirable.
That is, if you can get them to quit with the cowbells, which have supposedly been outlawed.
Food of all kinds is available, as are beverages, not limited to those of an alcoholic nature, but spanning across the broad spectrum of liquid possibilities.
This football program has seemed to be on the verge of big things under Dan Mullen.Tthe tailgating scene is already there.
Many college football teams, especially in the SEC, feature some type of "walk" from the team and coaches prior to kickoff on game day. During this ritual, the team marches down a predetermined route, in close proximity to the fans, exchanging high fives and cheers en route to the stadium.
Vanderbilt's head coach, James Franklin, helped move Vandy's walk back in 2011 when he first came to the program. While Commodore fans are a vastly underrated fan group, they have supported Franklin and his team during their successful past two seasons.
The move placed the march closer to the middle of the tailgating action, and has helped increase the excitement on game day.
Franklin's intensity is contagious, and anyone who watches the man for two minutes can see why Vanderbilt fans are excited about what he is doing with the program.
While there is still some way to go to catch up with their SEC brethren, the 'Dore faithful deserve a little more respect than they have been given to date.
If Franklin continues to work his magic, expect them to climb up these rankings in coming seasons.
Yes, that is a bunch of kids surrounding a stuffed, dead animal.
That about sums it up.
In reality, the only issue with a tailgate at Arkansas is the two locations. Opinions seem to be divided as to whether Little Rock or Fayetteville has a better tailgating scene.
Either way, the food is ridiculous, the fans dedicated and the scene similar to the other SEC tailgating venues spread across the Southeast.
Whatever location is utilized, these things remain constant, and provide a great place to spend a football weekend.
If you love Burgoo, this is the place to go.
Also, there is the little matter of horse races upon which wagers can be placed, just up the road from the stadium.
Those two unique features of Kentucky tailgating jumped the program into the top 10 on this list. A few winning seasons to give more folks a reason to party with Wildcat fans, and another jump might be in order.
9. South Carolina
Williams-Brice Stadium outside of the Cockaboose experience, provides an excellent tailgating atmosphere, the closer one gets to the stadium.
Be sure to hit up Five Points after the game for the after party. But before kickoff, the closer to the entrance one can be and still be involved in a party is the absolute best way to go.
Similar to other SEC programs, South Carolina fans will provide a visitor with plenty of food, including, but not limited to, steaks, ribs, poultry of all kinds, turtle, frog and rabbit.
Stay away from the turtle, if at all possible.
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Other than the incessant barking coming from Bulldog fans during Georgia tailgating experiences, there is little to find negative with a Georgia party experience.
Similar to many other schools in the conference, Georgia fans begin congregating on the North Campus Friday night before a game, in preparation for the party to follow.
Every variety of grilled meat is available, along with plenty of variety when it comes to beverages.
Toss in the party every year where Georgia and Florida fans mingle, and the program has an excellent tailgating scene.
Some of the limitations to tailgating around the actual stadium impede the party somewhat, but where it is taking place, it's lively.
And if you want to get a Dawg fight going, just mention Mark Richt.
Courtesy of southernliving.com
As mentioned in the open, there are no bad tailgating experiences in the SEC.
Case in point: Tennessee.
While the actual tailgating around the stadium is somewhat pedestrian, the opportunity to be involved in the Volunteer Navy and participate in a "Sailgate" should not be ignored.
One of only two college football venues to allow this opportunity, Neyland Stadium's proximity to the water allows fans to party on boats on the river just outside. They can then tie up and migrate into the stadium for the big game.
The unique aspect of this experience jumps it into the top half of the power rankings.
Alabama fans might not be happy with this ranking, but you can't win them all guys.
The sheer amount of fried and grilled food available in Tuscaloosa during a tailgate is really close to being beyond the scope of human comprehension.
From steak to pulled pork and brats to ribs, the selection is ridiculous.
There is no more dedicated, knowledgeable or more arrogant fanbase. However, the pride can be forgiven, since the Tide are in the middle of a dynasty.
The sheer amount of history and football knowledge on a campus where Bear Bryant once walked makes this an experience that easily ranks near the top in the conference.
5. Texas A&M
Texas A&M has only been in the SEC for one season, but they sure party like they've been a member forever.
Beginning Friday evening, progressing to the "Midnight Yell" and culminating with the game on Saturday, there are few tailgating experiences that provide the same level of passion, intensity and knowledge from those participating.
A&M has some of the best fans in the country, and with 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel returning, along with a high-powered offense in 2013, fans are going to be amped up.
It's Texas, so the food is incredible by default.
The football is good, the fans are great and the A&M campus has some excellent space for entertaining with a grill and spatula prior to kickoff.
The Aggie fans provide a legit contender to challenge LSU and Ole Miss in the next few years atop these rankings.
There is not much that Auburn does better than in-state rival Alabama—except party.
Auburn fans waste no time on the weekend before a game, arriving as early as Thursday to reserve tailgating positions for Saturday.
That's dedication, the level of which can rarely be found outside of the Southeast.
And Auburn fans know how to cook. That's a coffin pictured above, modified to provide an adequate space for cooking.
That's ingenuity, folks.
The food from various grills and smokers across the plains is excellent. While Auburn fans sometimes have an inferiority complex, once past this issue, there are not more pleasant folks anywhere in the world.
Time spent at an Auburn tailgate is time well spent.
Two things: statues and converted buses.
Florida's campus, and much of Gainesville on a football Saturday, is similar to the home of the teenager whose parents allowed everyone to hang out after school. Partiers nonchalantly plant themselves around the campus and town, creating an incredible atmosphere.
The converted vehicles are not solely limited to Florida. They are scattered across the country, but seem to be more prevalent at Florida than some other campuses.
Also of note, the statues of Steve Spurrier, Tim Tebow and Danny Wuerffel outside the stadium provide the unique ability to pose with three really interesting characters all at the same time.
Just touching Tebow's statue has been known to turn water into wine.
Folks are friendly—as long as opposing fans are not too abrasive—and the food is excellent.
Easily one of the better atmospheres for partying on game day in the conference.
Jambalaya, gumbo and a barrage of purple and gold are all it takes to earn the Tigers this spot.
There is no more dedicated fan base, there is no better food and the atmosphere is second to none. Couple this with all the night games at Death Valley, and the opportunity to tailgate all day long, and you have a winner.
The Cajun options, partnered with more traditional tailgating fare, put one in danger of being lethargic from overeating by the time kickoff rolls around.
LSU fans are generous folks, usually willing to share with any soul that wanders by.
The Tigers field a quality football team, and their tailgating scene is up there with the best.
1. Ole Miss
From Friday afternoon through Saturday night during college football season, there are few places that provide a better place to tailgate than Ole Miss.
The Grove, furnished with chandeliers, huge televisions and party-goers dressed in formal wear, is the best place in the country to tailgate.
There is no other place that is even close.
The unique way in which Ole Miss fans celebrate the incredible American pastime which is football earns them the top spot on this list.
Imagine what the atmosphere would be like if the Rebels could actually win something of significance?