I'd like to preface this article by saying that I'm not a fan of scalpers, although I've used them on a handful of occasions (less than 10, more than five).
This article came to me because a buddy of mine is going to the 'Bama- LSU game in Baton Rouge without a ticket to see her buddies and party for the game. I told her to keep $100 with her just in case the ticket comes up. Remember Cajuns, you can use $100 for something other than drive-through daiquiris—I'm serious!
Anyway, so here's VFA's quick guide to getting hold of a ticket somewhere other than the ticket office... (For a mere $200 more, we can give you a seat in the nosebleeds!)
1) Avoid the guy with the tickets in his hand
On your way to a game/tailgate/car park/on the highway, you'll probably hear people yelling "need tickets." He's not asking for one—he wants to sell them. More often than not, the tickets you buy are copies of an original ticket—which means that as soon as you get into the stadium, you're screwed. I've heard the story a number of times. It's not fun.
If this happens, you can always do what a guy I know did at Penn State when he was given fake tickets. He found the guy and got his money back. It doesn't usually happen though. What are you going to do, ask for a receipt?
2) Don't avoid going into people's tailgates. Remember—they can't stop you!
If you're in need of a ticket, then going to people's tailgates is a good place to start. Generally in the case of tailgates and tailgate parties, there's always someone who couldn't make it/was working/getting married/visiting their in-laws/needed to fulfill their marital duties.
As I've experienced, those are the sort of people that will give you the ticket for face value—and may even give you a drink while you're at it. Unless you bring four beers with you and offer them to the guy who gives you the tickets...
3) Know the teams
Sounds stupid, but there are a lot of college football tourists who have no idea how a team's performing when they show up...or the standard of the opposition. They are the type of people that say paying $200 for Penn State vs. Temple was a good idea. I've seen it happen.
If the home team is sliding—like Tennessee—loads of tickets will be on sale for virtually nothing. It's the credit crunch, but it's actually good for the likes of us...the fans.
4) Know what you are prepared to pay
It's like Vegas. Bring along $100 (or however much are prepared to spend) on the tickets and say that you'll spend no more—and stick to it. Even after 14 tequilas at 12 pm. Generally you'll get one for the price.
5) Get something if you don't get the ticket
A friend of mine in 2005 was looking for PSU vs. Ohio State tickets and couldn't find one. He knew he would, so he went around people's tailgates with this line: "Have you got a ticket?" The answer was no. "Beer to ease the pain?" The answer was yes. By 8 pm that night he had one ticket and very blurred vision.
6) Remember to walk about with a finger in your hand
Remember, you're looking for a ticket, not saying that your team's No. 1. A slightly begging look with it works too. Be prepared to walk around the stadium. A lot. You'll get to know the "B" entrance intimately. Can I recommend avoiding the Cotton Bowl for this? The fairground entrances aren't that big!