When Mizzou entered the SEC the rub was that our football players were going to be too small, too weak and most of all, too slow to compete. The team lacked “SEC speed” – a euphemism for just not being good enough. I figured that would take care of itself over the span of a few years as the Tiger recruiting staff entered new markets, but lo and behold, here we are in year two beating big programs like Georgia and Florida. It remains to be seen wether we can truly crack the upper echelon of the league – let alone stay there long term – but I think we can put the SEC speed thing to rest. We’ve got it (and in some cases we’ve got it at the backup positions too).
Where I still think we need to up our game is in the off-the-field stuff, and tailgates specifically. Mizzou games in college (mid-late 90s) were about pounding Natty Lights and crappy burgers until kickoff, wandering into the stands and then leaving when the Tigers went down by 20 points or so (usually early in the second quarter). Even when we were “good” we weren’t really actually good. But it’s 2013, we’re in the SEC and have been a legit top-10 team multiple times in the last five years. It’s time our tailgating evolved along with the product on the field.
A few suggestions:
- Match your food to the opponent. This varies from the easy (say, LSU) to the more difficult (Florida), but cooking the regional specialty of that week’s opponent not only provides the opportunity to cook something new, it demonstrates that you’re as serious as the Tigers themselves. And because we didn’t join the Big 10 that regional specialty is pretty much guaranteed not to suck. Think shrimp ‘n grits for South Carolina (pictured above), MoonPies as a dessert for the Tennessee game and brisket vs. Texas A&M. There should probably be sweet tea available.
- Eat the actual opponent itself. This one was a little easier when we played Colorado and Texas regularly because hey, buffalo and beef are good and ‘gator is mostly not. But we’re frying chicken wings – and bringing an assortment of sauces – for this weekend’s tilt with the Gamecocks. Consuming your enemy as a function of conflict is a time-honored tradition, so who are you to fiddle with eons of ritualized human violence? Get with the program (not applicable versus Georgia, Vanderbilt, A&M, etc.).
- Cocktails. We haven’t explored this particular aspect of our Lot X (ie, cheapskate donor) tailgate much, but a drink station of Sazerac-makings and Abita beer would be a big-boy addition to an LSU tailgate someday. Or Shiner Bock versus the Aggies in a few weeks. Go crazy.
- Go local. They’re not going to be trying to recreate Booche’s burgers in the Grove whenever we get around to playing Ole Miss. They’ll be eating what whatever they damn well feel like, regardless of the opponent (the fact that most of them will have their tailgates catered is beside the point). So don’t feel like everything has to match – it’s just a fun socio-geographic exercise. Serve Swiss Meats brats or Missouri Legacy Beef burgers and have a ball. And finally,
- Attire. It’s time to put away the sweatpants and ratty Mizzou sweatshirts. Save that nonsense for walking to class or recovering on the couch on Sunday. A proper SEC tailgate is a balance of class and depravity, so even if you are going to be a bit of a drunk idiot on a football Saturday, at least look good doing it. That means shirts with buttons, guys, and preferably a black and gold tie.