The Kentuckian in me must first thank all the gentlemen at Saturday Down South for allowing a bunch of Bluegrass boys to interject on their fantastic website on this beautiful Saturday. The Southeastern Conference is the life blood of the sports world in the South, and it is great to see that it is being covered and reported with the respect it deserves.
I am here today from www.TailgateReview.com to talk a little Kentucky tailgating with you fine folks of the South. Some, if not most, of you probably don’t think of the University of Kentucky as a great tailgating school. If you’re a Tennessee fan, I can understand how you may have this common misconception, mostly because you have an inability to “think.” Otherwise, you may just be ignorant of a true tailgating experience at UK. In this case, I hope to convince the rest of you delightful Southerners of the wonderful time that can be had at Commonwealth Stadium.
About seven years ago, a couple of friends and I set up shop in the Red Lot (i.e., the parking lot located west of the stadium) of Commonwealth Stadium about six hours before a UT/UK tilt. It was a cold, overcast, and a downright ugly day. Being that we are the most northern team in the SEC, most of you fans cannot sympathize with a UK tailgater when it comes to weather. Our tailgating goes through three distinct seasons: summer, fall, and winter. In September, when those filthy flying rats from Louisville come to town, it can be 90 degrees. On the other hand, when the low down, dirty, snitchin’ Vols come a callin’ to add another win to their streak, it can be colder than a polar bear’s toenails, which is what it was like that day seven years ago.
We were bundled up pretty well that day in November. Our fire pit (i.e., an old Coleman charcoal grill that was too rusted to be considered an actual grill) was lit and flaming pretty well. We wore our Carhartt bibs, a piece of clothing Florida fans are unfamiliar with, and we were enjoying a bottle of our finest Kentucky bourbon (not some cheap bottle of Tennessee whisky). Most of the tailgating around Commonwealth is what we at Tailgate Review (TGR) like to call “Tenting,” which is when your entire tailgate experience is basically based around activities surrounding a pop-up canopy tent. We are lucky enough to have plenty of beautiful bluegrass throughout the parking areas at Commonwealth to set up a very nice tailgate party.
I hope that UK fans are known as a very hospitable fan-base to the fans of other universities that visit Lexington. Unfortunately, I think we get a bad rap sometimes, because we travel in such large groups to basketball games. In fact, our average attendance for the Maui Invitational and Alaskan Shootout are greater than the home attendance averages for both Auburn and Alabama. I have always heard size matters, but apparently it also intimidates and frightens opposing fans into hating us. Although UK football and UK basketball fans are very different (their expectations for the teams being the biggest difference), both groups are, for the most part, good people.
Admittedly, that cold day seven years ago, due to the extraordinary amount of bourbon intake, I was not that great of a guy to a couple of UT fans. As normally happens for the UT/UK game in Lexington, Tennessee brought a bunch of orange clad criminals to Commonwealth that day, and I am sure the players were not the most of upstanding citizens either. A couple of Vols stepped off a tour bus close to my tailgate and made their way over to us. The married couple introduced themselves and seemed to be a surprisingly bright couple. I was amazed at the womanliness of the less masculine of the two. Who knew modern plastic surgery had made its way to Knoxville? The “man” noticed my half empty bottle of bourbon (it would have been half full if we were at a Wildcat basketball game) and asked if he could have a pull from it. Since I was the reason it was half empty, I obliged and the couple joined us for a bit.
I could not let a couple of Tennessee fans sit within a few feet of me without giving them some sort of grief, so, in my drunken stupor, I came up with a story in which I just heard on the radio on the way to the game that Peyton Manning came “out of the closet.” [I would like to point out right now to everyone still reading that I have no information on Peyton Manning’s sexuality, or any of the Manning’s for that matter. Whether or not they like boys or girls is none of my business.] When I divulged this information to the couple I just met, you would have thought I had told them that their parents were actually siblings, which means they were a product of incest somewhere on Rocky Top. They were not completely shocked, and you could tell that somewhere in the back of their minds they knew all along. After a couple minutes of them asking me if I was serious, and a couple of minutes of me trying not to crack up, the “man” picked up my bottle of Makers Mark, took a pull, and grabbed his “woman” as he walked away. I just wonder how many fellow Vols fans he told before he realized I was messing with him?!
The TGR crew has been to almost every campus in the SEC. We have tailgated in Baton Rouge, Colombia, Gainesville, Tuscaloosa, Nashville, and most places in between. We don’t pretend to have the greatest tailgating or football tradition in the SEC, but we are not that bad either. We do love our basketball, but we love our Kentucky football, too, and we have a heck of a time doing both! The city of Lexington, the horse races at Keeneland, the finest bourbon in the world, and our love for college sports and the SEC make the Bluegrass State a very special place.
Shout out to the Big Blue Nation! We hope you will visit our website, www.tailgatereview.com, to tell us how bad we stink. We welcome any comments, either positive or negative, you wish to share. And to the Vols fans who I may have offended with my comments, we will see you in Knoxville in November! Go Cats!