College Football: 10 Essential Needs for Every Tailgater

Carey MontzCorrespondent IJune 30, 2008

While the true die-hard college football fan is ready for the start of another football season as soon as the final whistle blows, the average college football enthusiast typically starts to fiend for college football about this time of the summer. 

Both the true die-hard and average fan wish college football was played year round, but most are intelligent enough to realize that football needs a break from time to time as well.  That being said, these same people start to get antsy and begin correlating their fall schedules in order to prepare for the start of football season, more importantly the tailgating season. 

This antsiness (made up word) primarily coincides with the beginning of summer.  We all find ways to cope with the football off-season. There are the NBA guys, us NASCAR guys, and the baseball purists (you know, those guys who don't mind watching a mid-summer's three game set between the Royals and Orioles). 

However, once summer is in full swing, we all become the little kid in the back of his parent's Suburban on a long vacation trip.  That little kid can remain quiet and find ways to occupy himself for much of the travel time, but once he can see the light at the end of the tunnel, he forgets about all things that kept him occupied for the other four hours and 23 minutes. 

So, what do we do to occupy ourselves for the other 45 minutes?  The married men are always given chores to do, but nothing that can truly divert our attention away from the soon to be football season. 

The single guy, other than the occasional one night fling, doesn't have the luxury, or curse depending on how you look at, of having that special someone giving him chores to occupy his time. 

Regardless, all men must find ways to get us through what are the dog days of summer.  So, after this long intro into what I feel will be a very productive meeting, I have compiled a list of 10 things that are essential for your football tailgate.  Thanks to me, I have filled your two months of waiting by providing a list of must haves which are guaranteed to make your tailgate spectacular.  Ensuring that all items on this list are in their upright and locked positions will make these next two months fly by.  Enjoy!!!

10.) Necessary Transportation. The rest of this list is basically irrelevant if your tailgate doesn't have the necessary logistics.  Chances are someone in your group either has a truck or an SUV.  If no one in your circle has either of these, stop reading this article.  Or, go out and buy yourself a truck, then continue reading.  Ideally, having two or more utility vehicles will do, but in reality, if you have at least one utility ride to handle the big stuff, you should be all right.

9.) Arrive Early. Tailgating is almost a national pastime in some parts of the country during the fall.  The lackadaisical tailgater may think its no big deal to arrive at his tailgate around lunchtime.  However, this simply does not apply to those truly serious about being a successful tailgater. 

You must always plan out with your friends what is the best time to arrive for tailgating.  There are certain criteria to consider as well.  Always consider the opponent.  If it is a big time SEC game, chances are people are going to arrive early.  If it is opening weekend, it doesn't matter who the opponent is, people have waited since November to tailgate once again, thus arriving early is key.  If it is midseason, and LSU is playing Middle Tennessee, arriving about an hour or so later than usual is sufficient.

8.) A Good Location. It is important to every tailgate to find a good location where much fun can be had.  You don't want to pick the wrong spot and be stuck tailgating next to a bunch of squares.  Also, you have to think about the intangibles. 


First, you want to set up a tailgate somewhere so that your vehicle will remain in the same zip code.  Next, always think about where your closest restrooms are located.  Lastly, you must pick out a spot where there is lots of action.  Having others around only makes tailgating that much more fun.


7.) Furniture and Appliances (chairs, tables, ice chests, radio, tv, etc). When you get to your tailgate spot, you gotta have a place to sit.  Investing in chairs and the like is a smart move.  Having tables to put food on is always a good thing.  Of course, you are going to need ice chests to keep the beer good and cold.  Lastly, you must have some form of medium. 


Also, you must think about what you will use to power said medium.  An inverter that can plug into a vehicle is good.  And you can always invest in a small generator.  Remember, you must have something for the generator to keep the noise and fumes down to a minimum.  Or spend the extra money for one of those quiet generators.


6.) EZ-UP Tents. This is essential to making any tailgate a success.  And not any old tent will do.  You have to go with the EZ-UP Tents.  Too many times over the years my friends and I have watched and laughed in amazement at people who show up to tailgate with either a screened in camping style tent or one of those tents that are in hundreds of pieces.  The EZ-UP is the only way to go.  If you don't already have one, or if your tent resembles a jigsaw puzzle, do yourself a favor and spend a few extra dollars on the aforementioned EZ-UP Tent.  And no, the folks at EZ-UP are not paying me.


5.) JJ Clancy. Some of you might be asking yourself what is a JJ Clancy?  Well, JJ can be anyone.  More specifically, JJ is the one friend that no tailgate can do without.  His entertainment quality is second to none.  He is the one guy who is ready to drop anything, regardless of importance, at the drop of a hat if it means tailgating success. 


He promises he will take care of the entertainment (television, ice chest radio, Direct TV, etc) but never has the proper equipment so that these amenities can be enjoyed (battery for said radio, and subscription service for the Direct TV).  He provides outlandish ideas without thinking how much money it might cost.  But from that enthusiasm, misguided as it might be, comes commitment.  If you tell him to be there at 6:00am to help set up, he is there. 


4.) Good Food and Good Beer. If you are going to take all the necessary steps so far, it would not be complete without a good food menu.  In my opinion, you are not serious about tailgating if you go out there with the idea that you will just grab a bite to eat from the student union.  That is designed for the folks who get out there at 2:00 in the afternoon and need to pass some time before heading to the stadium. 


That is just not good enough. 


A solid food menu only makes your tailgate more special.  And live on the edge a little.  Don't bring your little grill every week and cook some frozen hamburgers and hot dogs.  Keep the menu diverse.  There are plenty of things that are easy to prepare that don't require plenty of labor.  A good example of how to make your menu diverse is to base it around a central theme of your choice.  It makes it more fun.


Let's face it, we can compile another list of 10 reasons why beer is important at any tailgate.  Others might prefer to bring mixed drinks and such, but it doesn't get any simpler than beer.  Also, once you have arrived and your beer is iced down and you are ready to sit and relax, be sure to designate someone as your personal beer bitch. 


Finding someone gullible is the key.  The beer bitch is usually gullible and doesn't arrive at the tailgate as early as the others.  Also, he is the guy who comes with his beer, and then asks if he can bum room in someone's ice chest.  This has beer bitch written all over it.  Remember it.


3.) Recreational Activities - If you are following these steps to the tee, you must bring along some type of recreational activity.  If you have a good location with plenty of open room, you have to have a football.  It is considered illegal in some states to tailgate without a football.  Another thing to consider is holey board. 


When the beer starts to flow and people start to arrive, the holey board games get very intense.  Also, if you tailgate at the parade grounds at LSU and you get out there early, a pitching wedge and a nine iron along with about half a dozen golf balls is a good idea.  Practice your short game while waiting for the slackers to arrive.  If you are a sit down tailgater, a deck of cards is always a good idea.


2.) Good Friends - No doubt that a good time can be had at a tailgate with just a core group of friends.  But don't be afraid to let some of your friends invite some of their friends, no matter how much they mooch off of your food and beer.  As far as tailgating is concerned, we believe the more the merrier.  If the mooching continues after a while, then it is okay to kick their ass, but do it politely.  Then, politely tell them that if they want to join in on the fun, it is time to contribute. 


I got away from why I had this so high on the list.  You being there with all of your closest friends celebrating one common thing is a high like no other.  It's not like going to a party in college where everyone has their own separate agenda.  Everyone at a tailgate is there for the same reason.  It's a daylong event culminating with a football game at night.


1.)  Dedication - Everything listed above is irrelevant if you don't have No.1.  If you are going to tailgate seriously, certain sacrifices will have to be made.  For those of you responsible for hauling much of the equipment, you must accept the fact that your vehicle will smell like ass for the entire fall season and part of the winter. 


If you are going to tailgate with friends, make sure you tailgate with those friends who are as truly dedicated and psychotic as you.  This may hurt other friends’ feelings who want to arrive a bit later.  That is their problem.  If they want to arrive later and go somewhere else, oh well.  If they want to arrive later and join you, welcome them with open arms.  Also, be smart about your dedication. 


Budget for your tailgate.  Think about what needs to be done and start planning in the springtime. 


There you have it.  10 things that are essential to making any tailgate a success.  Please keep in mind that I am aware that there are other necessities, but I felt these were the most important.  Now, that I have laid the groundwork, go out there and do me proud.