During the college football season fans pay close attention to the weekly polls, ranking the top 25 teams in the nation. There’s the AP writers’ poll, the USA Today/Coaches Poll and other assorted ranking bodies. But the folks over at ESPN recently did their own poll that ranks college fans, based on their game day cuisine and overall tailgating scenes.
Here then, are their rankings, with our commentary, in reverse order.
10. Auburn. Let’s face it. Fans in the south are nuts for football. People here are known to tailgate starting as early as 7 a.m. the day before the game. And they’re known to linger l-o-o-o-n-g after the game. Especially if they’ve just defeated Alabama.
9. Colorado. Nothing quite like tailgating in the Rocky Mountains. Food tastes better at high altitudes, and libations have a more accelerated effect.
8. Army. It starts with the beautiful setting on the Hudson River. And people respect the commitment the young men on the field have made, not just to their team, but to their country.
7. Wisconsin. Cheese, brats, and beer. What’s left to say?
6. UCLA. Beautiful students basking in beautiful California sunshine outside the Rose Bowl. Eating organic veggies, tofu dogs and California wines. Asian food is popular here, too.
5. Penn State. Many, many fans come here just to tailgate. They never set foot inside the stadium. They had to enact a ban on drinking alcohol outside the stadium during games. Favorite tailgate food: Pepper shooters, made with marinated cherry peppers, provolone cheese and prosciutto.
4. Washington. Fans here can sail to Husky Stadium dining on Dungeness crab or wild salmon. Classy. Too bad their football team’s not in the same class this season.
3. Tennessee. Boats can tie up here, too, on the nearby Tennessee River. And the barbecue here is fantastic. You’re likely to see several whole pigs getting roastedâ€”especially if the Vols are playing Arkansas (Razorbacks).
2. Ole Miss. Tailgating in the grove near the stadium where Archie and Eli Manning used to play is truly a sublime experience. No cars or trucks allowed in the groveâ€”just tents. Southern hospitality at its finest. Hot toddy? Don’t mind if I do.
1. LSU. Well, they won the National Championship in football last year, and the ESPN guys rate their tailgating scene as tops in the nation as well. Cajun cooking at its finest: jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, gumbo, alligator stew, and wild duck are among the delicacies served off the tailgates of trucks in Baton Rouge.