The Scene: Auburn University
By Wannabe Possum
As part of an ongoing series, SMT special correspondent Wannabe Possum is investigating tailgating, drinking, and partying across the Southeastern Conference. This week, WP reports from Auburn University where the Tigers took down the South Carolina Gamecocks.
AUBURN, AL – Rolling into the “Loveliest Village on the Plains” late Thursday night, Auburn lives up to its slogan. By Friday afternoon the town is transforming. By Saturday it is a thriving SEC football metropolis fueled by pride, tradition, epic tailgates, a seemingly endless supply of cold beer, and a lust for blood on the field.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the passion of their rabid fan base did not translate into the blowout victory predicted by many. The Tigers looked as sloppy as George Jones on a Monday morning circa 1981. But a win’s a win. And like ole’ George, I suspect the Tigers will be back for the long-haul.
Fortunately for your’s truly, the scene in town and before the game did not disappoint. Here’s how to make the best of your Auburn football Saturday – Wannabe Possum style.
Wake up early. Even though the game doesn’t start until 6 pm, you are expected to be tailgating no later than noon, and preferably by 9 am.
Start drinking. Ease the hangover and jumpstart the day with a local delicacy, the “Sara Beth Special.” Recipe as follows:
In a styrofoam War Eagle cup, pour leftover coffee (preferably left out overnight) over ice. Add 2 teaspoons Splenda, 1 jigger Bailey’s Irish Cream, 1 jigger Kettle One Vodka (or substitute Patron Tequila), splash of half & half to taste. Stir to mix well. Garnish with Kahlua.
Eat Breakfast. Big Blue Bagel is a local favorite. Get your cajun breakfast on an everything bagel to go, and get to the tailgate.
Make friends. Chips and salsa, and a 12-pack out of the trunk of your rented Ford C-max just isn’t going to cut it here. Auburn hosts perhaps the most elaborate tailgates of the SEC. Groups of families join forces to host over-the-top parties in anticipation of the game, and you don’t want to miss out. Don’t have Auburn friends? Don’t worry, they are also among the most welcoming of SEC fans – even to opposing teams. Just say hello, and don’t be surprised to be invited in.
Pre-game. I attended two tailgates. The first with a group of fraternity alums on the lawn near their former frat house, which sponsored a band blaring out country and classic rock hits. The tailgate (I use that term very loosely as it was more like a small wedding reception) was held under about 14 tailgate tents strewn together and featured two flat screen tv’s with satellite; a large spread of appetizers, fried chicken, ribs, dips, and finger sandwiches; full bar, and a bottle of Fireball which was passed around and referred to as the “firetruck.” There were even healthy options such as vegetables, grilled chick-fil-a chicken strips, and hummus for the ladies.
Unlike other schools, most of the tailgates at Auburn are much more spread out across campus. This allows each tent to be larger, and each group more space. The drawback is that is takes away some of the atmosphere and community developed at other institutions – think The Grove at Ole’ Miss.
An exception to this rule is in the mostly corporate tents set up near the stadium. This is where I attended a second pre-game party. The benefit here is mostly to the sponsors of said tailgates, who have their events fully set up and cleaned up. All they have to do is show up. These tents, while a bit cookie-cutter, especially compared to the elaborate spreads set up by other groups of students and alumni, do have the feel of a more traditional tailgate. Crowds of people packed together, long bathroom lines, and folks getting rowdy before the game.
Celebrate the Win. Now on a 14-0 winning streak at home, it is a safe bet the Tigers will pull out the W. Celebrate the victory by heading to Toomer’s Corner. The massive oak trees are gone but the tradition lives on as toilet paper covers trees, power lines, the streets, and sidewalks.
Party late. A short walk from the corner is the legendary Sky Bar. A $5 cover (unless you are on the list – and you know Wannabe Possum is on the list) will transport you back to college with cheap well drinks, a rocking band, and co-eds dancing promiscuously on tables.
Late Night Eats. On the way home, there were a number of late night food options. The line at Domino’s Pizza was out the door. However, this can be shortened by claiming the onion pizza for Alex is your’s, even if your name is Hoke. We went with Mama Goldberg’s, a local institution now franchised in 4 states, featuring steamed sandwiches and world famous Mama’s Nachos. Recipe as follows:
Place small bag of Doritos in a single layer on a plate. Tear slices of deli pepper jack cheeses to cover Doritos. Chop pickled jalepenos and scatter over nachos. Steam until cheese is melted. If you don’t have a steamer, use microwave.
Sleep. After a long day of drinking and eating your body will need the rest and the Mama Goldberg’s will help lull you into a carbohydrate and sodium filled slumber.
GET! On Sunday, Auburn will return to the loveliest village on the plains, and it is therefore time for you to go. Certainly, you will leave with a smile on your face and a new appreciation for the War Eagle nation.