This post continues a week-long series celebrating fandom with EA Sports.
There are a number of pre-gaming traditions in Columbia. Those that like to tailgate in style (and have a bit of spending money) can get into a Cockaboose. Those that aren't grill masters and that prefer to have a dining establishment do the cooking can hang out at Yesterday's or one of Columbia's many fine barbecue establishments until it's time to get a ride down to the stadium. Others just do it the old fashioned way: they get a parking spot, pull out a grill and food, some tables, a cooler full of beverages, and they get down to business before the game.
My friends and I are part of the latter category, and that probably makes us fairly representative. To me, there's nothing like pre-gaming with friends, hamburgers, suds, and perhaps some form of recreation like beanbag toss. At Williams-Brice, you can do this in a number of spots around the stadium. The most well-known of these is the State Fairgrounds parking (although this can conflict with the Fair itself in late October), but there are lots in other lots and fields around the stadium that accommodate tailgating.
One tradition that I enjoy that some folks I know get involved in is making the opposing team's mascot the meat du jour at their tailgate. Doing this is a way to get back at rival fans that enjoy poking fun at our mascot, whose status as a protein staple and ubiqitous presence on plates across the country make it a common sight on our our enemies' grills. (Those of you that attended or watched last year's NC State game probably saw how popular this was in Raleigh.) Granted, we can't always return the favor: as much as we hate Tigers and Dawgs, it's not easy to get your hands on tiger meat and eating dog meat is, well, a good way to ruin your reputation in the Western world. That doesn't stop us from enjoying the delectable flesh of some of our other opponents...or that of their mascots, at least. Early and mid-November is the best time of the season for this. First up are the Arkansas Razorbacks, and it doesn't take an overactive imagination to conceive what a state known for its barbecuing ingenuity can do with that challenge. Next up is the Florida Gators. Yes, Gamecocks fans enjoy grilled gator tail steaks at tailgates. Don't ask me where the folks that do it get the meat, although I'm guessing that if you know enough people you can get connected to someone that enjoys a bit of gator hunting when the state opens season on the overpopulating reptiles. It's not too bad, by the way.
Whatever you do, though, the most important thing about a good tailgate is getting in the right mood to cheer on the Gamecocks. We like to think that we can will our team to victory against opposing SEC squads, and we know that if we do win, the post-game tailgate will be twice as sweet as the pre-game.
So, what are your tailgating traditions? Anything out of the ordinary?