This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.
I wouldn't exactly say that Vanderbilt fans have the most storied football tailgating traditions. That's not to say the Commodore fans don't love to tailgate. Something has got to be enjoyable for Vandy fans on Saturdays in the fall. Might as well be before the loss, amiright? [Hangs head in shame]
Even for teams that struggle, tailgating rules. It's the time when you're brimming with optimism. It's where "today's going to finally be the day we beat whomever." You get to eat meat, drink beer, play beer-pong or cornhole, and enjoy yourself. It's even sometimes acceptable to listen to Miley Cyrus' Oeuvre (*cough* bloggywo *cough*).
Vanderbilt Tailgating - A Brief History Since 1981
Before I delight you with the current recipe I employ, I think it wise to briefly discuss how Vanderbilt tailgating has evolved over the years. As the only private university in the SEC, Vanderbilt is nestled in the largest city of all the SEC programs. As such, real estate is a premium. There has always been the fairly large Medical Center parking lot that has been the most consistent home to tailgating for Commodore fans. Most people do not identify it as such, but that's what it's primarily used for during the school week. Of course, it is located along Natchez Trace across from the Rec Center's track and the John Rich football practice facility. There are still a few remnants of the various smaller parking lots that at one point littered the area surrounding the football stadium.
As is customary with tailgating, people generally have a particular area they habitually claim for their setup. It used to be that people would have tailgates in these smaller parking lots. When I was growing up, we were regulars in an area that is now a Marriott Hotel. Apparently the tailgating traditions of the hundred or so families that tailgated there weren't important enough a reason not to redevelop a parking lot into a successful shopping area. Go figure.
One thing I've always found irritating about Vanderbilt is how the school seems to always be pushing new traditions. Of course, planning out and starting a "new" tradition is about as genuine as giving yourself a nickname; it doesn't work and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. They must have tried to start ten traditions when I was in undergrad alone. It always infuriated me. Traditions are born, not generated. They just happen. Perfect example: the V-A-N-O-Y cheer at basketball games. Invariably, the "new" traditions are carbon copies of some other school's tradition or, even worse, an idea spawned by taking three other ideas and combining them into one. Real original stuff.
Sometimes though, the new traditions stick and work. I think that's the case with Vandyville, a row of tents in an area on Natchez Trace the school now shuts off to traffic on gamedays. With it, the university has done a very good job of consolidating the various smaller parking lot tailgates with the Med Center lot. Vanderbilt really put their weight behind it. The various sports teams including the men's and women's basketball and baseball teams often have their own tents near the ~200 foot television that shows marquee SEC games throughout the day. All this has really served to create a nice atmosphere on gamedays.
Previous to Vandyville, my friends and I would just stake out random grassy areas in the Med Center lot and set up shop. Now we maintain a tent near the middle of the action. It's worked out well for us.
I think one would be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks that the creation of Vandyville has been a negative for the Commodore tailgating scene. That said, it's important to "take it up a notch" so that your tailgate stands out. Here are a few items we've invested in to help us in our quest:
Char Griller Super Pro with Optional Trailer Hitch Mount
Obviously not mine, but you get the idea
Real tailgates have real (i.e. charcoal) grills. PERIOD. Even Minnesota gets it. You can leave it on the hitch to cook, or reattach the wheels and roll it to your preferred tailgate area, if it isn't vehicle accessible.
Ion Block Rocker
Is your ipod speaker system so heavy it needs luggage wheels? Didn't think so. Yes, it does have microphone inputs for karaoke or cat calls. Yes, you can daisy chain several of these together for even more loud. I choose the music. Not the dick in the next tent.
Old Chevy School Bus
My friend Josh, showing you how we roll
Do I really need to explain myself? Didn't think so.
In closing, it appears that several of the other blogs are leaving a recipe. Here's my patented recipe for hotdogs--AOG style:
Place dog on grill. Cook. Remove. Serve.
What's your tailgating tradition?