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Where I Come From: Tailgating Traditions

This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011

We continue this week's EA Sports series with a look at tailgating traditions. What goes on before the game is almost as important as what takes place on the field. For some, it may be just as important. Take a walk around Auburn on game day and you'll see all types of tailgating. From the million dollar RV's to the $59 pop up tents, there's more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to pregame festivities.

For me, tailgating has changed quite a bit over the years. Gone are the all day drunkfests with friends that typify a 20-somethings Saturday on the Plains. Sadly, I've reached the age where I look at those people with scorn - something I promised I'd never do. Maybe it's more jealousy than scorn. How did I get old so fast?

For me now, it's all about family and fun. A perfect gameday consists of getting to the tailgating spot early and setting up the tents, tables, chairs and food.  Most importantly is the television. After that, family and friends arrive throughout the day. Regardless of kickoff, I arrive at the crack of dawn. There's something about sunrise on the Plains that just gets you ready for football - that and perhaps a Bloodymary or two.

The great thing about the Auburn campus is that it's built for tailgating. With plenty of green, open space, Auburn has more tailgating spots than most schools. Auburn officials get a bad rap at times for their tailgating policies, but I find them more lenient than most places. The fact that you are still allowed to set up shop on the grass in front of school buildings is a huge plus.

When you think of Auburn tailgating, the first thing that comes to mind is Tiger Walk. While most schools have now copied the tradition, it's widely known that Auburn was the first to start such a tradition back in the 1960's. The Tiger Walk on December 2, 1989, is remembered as one of the great moments in Auburn history. While there were close to 30,000 there that day; after more than 20 years that number has grown tenfold.

I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I was standing on top of an RV at the intersection by the Stadium doing a live broadcast for WEGL. I was joined by Angie Ward (who's now a popular morning radio host in North Carolina) and I still have the cassette tape from that day.  It's a lot of fun to go back and listen. 

A walk around campus on gameday is quite a sight. A trip to Jordan-Hare is not complete without paying a visit to the orange Volkswagen Van that sits caddy-corner to Plainsman Park. There you'll find a rabid bunch of school teachers with their faces painted orange and pom-poms for hair. If they charged for all the pictures taken of them and with them over the years, they could give up educating the young. 

And who drives the orange and blue firetruck through town with all the drunk co-eds? They play the Auburn fight song at least 1,000 times over the course of the day. While some fans look at them with disdain, it's something I look forward to each week.

For students, tailgating is a completely different experience from the rest of us. Besides consuming more alcohol than any other demographic on campus that day, students line up hours in advance to get in the stadium and claim the best seats.
If you have a son or friend that's on the bubble as to whether or not to attend Auburn, just invite him to a game and walk past the student entrance before it opens. Per capita, it has more good looking women than any place on earth. He'll give you a verbal commitment on site.
What are your tailgate traditions? How do you spend time before a game? If you don't make it down to the games, what are your pregame rituals at home?
I hope you'll share with us.