College Football: Ranking the Most Legendary Postgame Party Schools
The final whistle sounds in a stadium jam-packed with individuals who have just shared the experience of being one cog of a 60,000-part machine; a heat-generating, loud, passionate and rowdy college football crowd.
You leave the arena, but your veins are still pumping with adrenaline from witnessing your team win a close one, lose in the last seconds or completely destroy a despised rival…so, what’s next?
You are certainly too amped up to go home or back to the hotel (and you need a place to put the pesky goal posts you’ve carried out of the stadium), so it’s time to look for something else to do, a place to celebrate your noble triumph or perhaps a spot to join with others to drown your very real sorrows.
The following slideshow ranks the Top 25 schools where the weary but noble college football enthusiast can leave the field house and not have to look far to find a great gathering in which either to celebrate or commiserate.
"She pulls back onto Main Street in her new Mercedes Benz...The road goes on forever, and the party never ends.” -Robert Earl Keen
(Image via Colombia Tribune)
25. San Diego State
The Aztecs present a wide array of opportunities for the enthusiast exiting Qualcomm Stadium with “more” on their mind.
SDSU has San Diego’s vast club and bar scene, Fraternity Row where Greek life is lively, beaches are aplenty and, if all else fails, you’ve got Mexico temptingly close by.
In terms of specific areas for celebration, check out downtown, the gaslight district, Ocean beach and Pacific beach.
Though San Diego State is not a name regularly associated with “top party school” listings, it would be an error not to consider it a prime place for postgame revelry.
Columbia is another town that may not be the first place you think of for big parties, but Tiger fans are serious enough about their college football to throw some insane postgame parties, especially after a big Mizzou win.
One place to head after the game is over in Faurot Field, is Harpo’s on 10th Street, an establishment that has a patio on top of its building that has been oft earmarked as the place to bring the goal posts after a big Missouri win.
Can I get fries with those uprights?
Ann Arbor is the quintessential college town and therefore offers the overwhelming presentation of choices in terms of postgame parties you’d expect. Add to this 110,000 enthusiastic people fleeing Michigan Stadium, and you’ve got a prime bash scene.
Downtown Ann Arbor is where most of the choice establishments are, including the Brown Jug on South University, which is also the name of the prize that the Wolverines and Golden Gophers play for each fall.
Trojan fans are dead serious about their college football, and when the Coliseum (capacity 94,000) empties out on Saturdays, the surrounding area is well equipped to absorb jubilant or devastated USC supporters.
Besides the Greek scene and private parties, areas with a good concentration of bars and clubs are Sunset Beach, Venice Beach and Westwood, with the 901 Club (known as the 9-0), a local “dive bar” favorite for Trojan students on South Figueroa Street.
21. East Carolina
East Carolina and Greenville in general may offer the most underrated merrymaking experience of any of the schools on this list, but the Pirates can throw it down and party at the same velocity as their on-field counterparts can pass the ball for an insane number of yards.
The focus of ECU’s party scene is downtown and specifically in the area of Fifth Street, where you can find clubs, bars and restaurants that offer an alternative if you can’t get hooked up with a privately-sponsored affair.
The real highlight of East Carolina’s social calendar during football season is a Halloween party that competes with any offered in our great nation. Think college shenanigans meets rednecks for a county fair, where there is a serious lack of rules surrounding decorum.
The formula that makes Iowa City such a great postgame destination is fairly simple.
Take a city and entire state obsessed with its Big Ten football team, combine that with what is already an above-average college town in terms of social gathering opportunities, and you’ve got an after-game experience that is hard to beat.
There are some huge venues for celebrations in Iowa City, and maybe that’s because it’s cold out there on the wind-whipped plains. Regardless, you can count on the Hawkeyes to be out en mass after a game and ready to welcome you to their gridiron gala (which will be even more spirited after a big IOWA win).
Though you might be surprised to see College Park, Maryland listed among postgame party destinations, it is a venue that is consistently ranked as one of the better party schools in the nation.
Add a No. 18 ranking in the Princeton Review to a football program that is gaining momentum, and when Byrd Stadium releases its temporary inhabitants after a closely contested ACC affair, suddenly College Park is the place to be on Saturdays.
It’s a small area to work with, but check out the houses on Knox Road, South Campus Commons and the celebration station that is Route One.
And this is the one stop on our “best postgame party schools” tour bus where every single passenger gets off, scratches their head and says, “WHAT???”
Yes, welcome to Orlando Florida, home of the University of Central Florida and the Knights of the East Division of C-USA.
So, what are we doing here?
Well, welcome to what Playboy touts as the No. 9 best party school in the nation, which makes UCF a shoo-in for your after-game celebration needs.
Yes, the crowd leaves Bright House Networks Stadium (hey, it seats 45,323 people) and the fans of the defending C-USA championship Knights have perhaps the biggest swath of “other” opportunities of any place in the USA.
It’s Orlando...the restaurant, club and bar capital of the nation, and it’s on this list for a reason.
Some people say that the party scene in Boulder is overrated, but one Saturday spent on the Hill, at the Sink (on 13th Street) or the Foundry in the afterglow of a Buffs win in Folsom Field will change the mind of even the biggest doubter.
If Colorado’s football program can finally turn the corner, then it will make what is already a legendary place to whoop it up, a revived postgame party central.
16. UC Santa Barbara
UCSB is the only school on our list that doesn’t field a FBS team, but the scenery surrounding Santa Barbara makes everyone want to be a Gaucho fan.
The only problem with being a Gaucho football fan is that there is no football team (on any level) to root for, but still UCSB makes the list.
Well, downtown Santa Barbara and Isla Vista are simply legendary for festivities, frolicking and draw college students and merrymaking enthusiasts alike from across the state (and the country).
So, how do we stretch the limits of geography and a serious lack of gridiron to say that UCSB offers a tremendous “postgame” experience?
Well, let’s say UCLA or USC play a home game in LA, and you have approximately two hours to kill. Drive 95 short miles northwest on the 101, and you’ve got perhaps the best after game experience in the world.
You’ve got to see it to believe it.
A solid Big Ten representative, the Fighting Illini are serious about painting the town red even if their football team is struggling to post W’s.
Add in even a semi-successful gridiron squad, and you’ve got pandemonium on the streets of Champaign and Urbana.
It's two towns for the price of one, and you should direct your postgame GPS to Daniel Street, Green Street or Wright Street for the best gatherings.
Looking for a more specific recommendation? One of the more traditional dives is Kam’s on East Daniel, an institution that claims to be the “Home of the Drinking Illini.”
Illinois is 5-0 through five weeks of play in 2011 (their best start since 1934), so if you’re planning a visit, the sooner the better.
Syracuse NY certainly has more of an affinity for basketball than football, but that doesn’t mean that the Orange don’t like to put on a postgame display that kicks it hard.
Perhaps hugely underrated from a celebratory standpoint, when the Carrierdome releases its 50,000 hounds, you should head to the Armory Square or Marshall Street.
The ‘Cuse also offers a vibrant Greek scene which is headquartered on Comstock Avenue.
Knoxville is impossible to leave off a list for top postgame parties due to the sheer numbers of fanatical Volunteer fans that pour in and then back out of Neyland Stadium on home-game Saturdays.
Yes, mix 102,544 parts hardcore football devotees with an already vibrant nightlife near campus, and you’ve got revelry and festivity to the max.
Where to trod off to after you’ve escaped the pandemonium dome of the checkered end zone? Well, the Strip and the Old City are sure bets in Knoxville. Enjoy the party.
What to wear? Loud orange and lots of it!
12. Florida State
So, how does Tallahassee, FL rank in terms of after-game festivities?
Well, you could talk about downtown, Gaines Street, Railroad Avenue and the Tennessee Street Strip, and then you could add in a booming Greek scene.
But, for me, I like to picture the 80,000-plus Seminole fans finishing up their tomahawk chop and following good Chief Osceola out of Doak Campbell.
The flaming spear is planted on the Strip, and the party is on like, well, like Donkey Kong.
It’s hard to beat.
The Gator Nation doesn’t mess around with playing football, the supporting of their beloved gridiron squad or the celebrating of life in general, which gives them the trifecta necessary for a tremendous postgame experience.
Walk directly out of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and prepare to be welcomed into the open arms of the Swamp (a restaurant, not a return to the field), the Purple Porpoise, the Ale House, CJ’s, Thirsty Gators and a mind boggling number of alternate establishments standing ready to aid you in your revelry needs.
Its one big huge party in Gainesville, and game day and its delicious aftermath do nothing but raise the already lofty bar.
10. Ole Miss
Ole Miss offers the pinnacle of Southern gridiron graciousness, which is best described as a thick accent, a warm embrace, proper attire and good bourbon underwritten with inebriation and naughty behavior.
Yes, a fine polish with a creamy yet hard to completely recollect center...yum.
When the final gun sounds in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, the Rebels spill out onto the streets of Oxford and with a massive Greek scene mixed with a fairly impressive number of bars and eateries, no one goes away hungry or under-served.
What sets Ole Miss apart on game day is the spirit and dedication in which people celebrate everything about their beloved university, a force that is substantially strengthened in the football-crazy South.
Madison Wisconsin is arguably the beacon of hardcore Midwest football carousing, and State Street is the center of this impressive celebratory movement.
It’s almost like Wisconsin is an SEC town in the cold, dark Big Ten, and when the Badgers play, life stops and the party never ends...never.
Camp Randall holds 80,321 fans, and when they hit the ground running in postgame mode, they have a ridiculous number of bars and parties awaiting their attention.
The densest festive areas, other than State Street, include Capital Square, Memorial Union and Union Terrace.
8. Arizona State
As expected, things heat up quickly in the desert, and nothing could prove that dogma more correct in Tempe than a stroll along infamous Mill Avenue. It's within walking distance of the ASU campus and offers something for everyone.
Yes, there is plenty to do when the opponent is done “fearing the fork,” and if you like your bars situated on both sides of a stacked street for a night of zigzagging, then Tempe is your ultimate destination.
For those wanting to go further afield, there is always chic Scottsdale which offers an attractive old town that is overall considerably less rowdy than Mill Avenue after game day.
Tuscaloosa is a place where the party truly “never ends,” and when the Crimson Tide are winning football games, everything is amped up considerably.
Yes, empty out 101,821 capacity Bryant-Denny Stadium onto the streets, and the already festive Strip and downtown areas become saturated with a party that literally goes on all night.
Serious college football fans, a tendency to over-celebrate and winning are “just the ticket” for the Yellowhammer State.
The University of Texas at Austin offers the potential celebrant with a virtual plethora of after-game options, but the center of UT’s party universe begins and ends on infamous 6th Street.
Standing the test of time, 6th Street's legendary status is indeed well earned, and even the visiting fan seeking a watering hole to lick his/her wounds will be hard pressed not to enjoy themselves within its head-spinning confines.
After a big Longhorn win, the area literally bulges with fans looking for the same experience ecstatic supporters seek all over the nation on a chilly Saturday...only the folks in Austin have a better venue for such revelry.
5. Penn State
Hmmm. Where to go after the “White Out” is over in Beaver Stadium and the nation of neutrally clad Penn State aficionados become a moving mass of people in Happy Valley?
Well, friend, get yourself down to College Avenue, and be prepared to be wowed by an impressive number of bars filled with Nittany Lions buffs joyously celebrating in the company of one another.
State College is oft referred to as a “Drinking Town with a Football Problem,” which pretty much sums up how Penn State makes the Top Five of our illustrious postgame party list.
Though LSU makes a rather lowly appearance on Princeton Review’s best college party towns listing, many a comprehensive catalog of merriment leaves Baton Rouge out in the cold.
The omission seems almost criminal, but our blockbuster list won’t make that mistake, as we astutely realize that when the words “postgame” and “party” are combined in a college football sense, LSU is about as obvious as any selection we could make.
Start by leaving Tiger Stadium en mass and visiting the Tigerland bars. Once you’re around for even a little while, it becomes easy peasy to find a great place to celebrate late into the Louisiana Saturday night.
Though Ohio University has had its fair share of top billing among party school rankings, some of the top listings have begun to omit the Bobcats due to their near “professional status.”
Since our rankings don’t make designations between amateur status and professionalism, we proudly include OU and its hometown of Athens, and though MAC football isn’t necessarily a bridge to the BCS, it certainly can party hardy after the Bobcats game.
The whole school and town likes to make merry, but those who want specific instructions upon departing Peden Stadium, head over to the Uptown area and concentrate your efforts on Court Street.
Over-served, well-saturated, lubricated and soused are all good descriptive terms for a night in lovely Athens, Ohio.
2. West Virginia
“Wild and Wonderful” is the state motto of West Virginia, and Morgantown on game day (and afterwards) lives up to the same billing.
Morgantown is not unlike the Athens of Appalachia, but what the Mountaineers have that can’t be touched by their brethren in Ohio and Georgia is furniture burning.
Yes, you’re almost guaranteed to see a couch burned if you spend a college football weekend in West Virginia, which means that the celebrations after the game could include the torching of almost any useful household item.
Hold on to your lamps, Bobby! We’re going to them mountains where they drink that there “creek water"!
Athens, Georgia is perhaps the best college town in the country, and its huge Greek community, cool downtown bars and eateries and music scene combine to make any visit on a Saturday special.
Add to this delicious combination a healthy, heaping helping of SEC football, crazed Bulldog devotees, tradition, passion and some pretty cool shrubbery, and you have arrived at the pinnacle of postgame celebrations.
The party goes on forever...in bars, houses, restaurants, garages, alleys and always, always, with the gridiron warriors from Sandford Stadium deep in the hearts of a great football people.