Where We Come From: Different Kind of Tailgating Tales

This is the third of a week-long series of posts sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.

cocknfire: The first half of my senior year in college is a little bit of a blur. I was working on The Gamecock -- the student newspaper -- and the Garnet and Black -- the quarterly magazine -- as well as the journalism school's lab paper, The Carolina Reporter, and another publication called the Carolina Spectator.

The Spectator -- which apparently shared a name with an earlier, un-p.c. magazine of an earlier era -- was a sports-centric newspaper started up by a former Gamecock editor ousted by the administration ahead of our senior year. (Long story.) It was published for each home football game. And it had the sort of irreverent, laid-back style that was typical of the Gamecock during the editor's time there; I remember creating an ad for people to order back issues and having the words "limited supply" -- or was it "sold out"? -- stamped on the cover for the Bowling Green issue, which was the Sept. 11 edition and was actually (this being 2001) never distributed. We had more of them than any other issue.

The editor did most of the writing, though he farmed out a few pieces to other folks. The rest of us were responsible for graphics or editing or just some form of support. For the last few weeks, I did a few graphics, which was about the extent of my editorial contribution.

But everyone helped with distribution -- because the only real plan for that was to take copies down to the state fairgrounds, where everyone tailgates in South Carolina, and lug them around to hand out to people. You would be surprised how many people will turn down free copies of a newspaper devoted to sports, but it happened.

The Spectator was gone with the editor's graduation. I think a couple of the people involved with the project considered launching it again the following year, but I can only think of one person I knew in college who had the mix of ambition, talent and insanity to do it, and he did.

Not that I never tailgated in college; of course we did, in many cases after helping to hand out the Spectator. And that's generally what we do on trips back to Columbia. Sure, there have been times when one or two of us actually "go to the game" (I'm usually one of them, naturally), but just being there is enough.

After all, for a long time, tailgating has been the most fun a South Carolina fan can have at a game.

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Year2: I don't have a whole lot to say about this one, as my family is not generally a clan of tailgaters. We all enjoy smoked meats of course (except for my vegetarian wife, who prefers a Boca burger wrapped in foil while it's on the grill), but it never really was a big part of our game day traditions.

Mostly that is because we didn't meet up with people who lived in Gainesville. Our grill wouldn't fit in any of our cars, and I believe the same was true for my dad's friends who co-own the block of season tickets. As a result Sonny's (founded in Gainesville) was our go-to barbecue of choice, and sometimes we would get pizza at the student union food court back when it had a pizza place.

For my first three years of college, I didn't pick up any tailgating routine because of being in the marching band. My final two falls I would tailgate with my friends at the UF Wesley Foundation, something my wife and I still do when we make it to games down there. It's nothing elaborate, but it gets the job done.

Absent anything else interesting to say, I will recommend trying a hot dog with ranch salad dressing on it some time. A friend of mine in high school recommended it, and it turns out it's quite good.

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