Before even having attended LSU, I described it as one of my top 5 visits along the college football tour. I just knew – and I wasn’t disappointed. Few places blend hospitality and hostility so well – the fans are most welcoming and the stadium is most intimidating. This is especially true on a Saturday night.
The stadium here at Florida is nicknamed The Swamp. Coined by coaching legend Steve Spurrier, the nickname caught on when he famously said, “In the Swamp, only gators get out alive.” That statement holds a lot of truth as Ben Hill Griffin Stadium stands tall, imposing, and loud.
Unique brands of tailgating are a college football tradition on all campuses. But, nothing compares to Ole Miss. The Grove is a ten acre space shaded by oaks, elms, and magnolias providing an elegant backdrop for thousands of Ole Miss tailgaters. Sporting News calls it “The Holy Grail of tailgating sites.” People stake their claim the night before and set up elaborate tailgates on gameday.
Fayetteville rocks on Saturdays in the fall. There is certainly no shortage of passionate fans and tradition here at Arkansas which is evident as the team runs out of a hog pen through the band-crafted “A” into an intimidating atmosphere in Razorback Stadium. That intimidation factor begins pregame with pro style tailgating surrounding the perimeter of Arkansas’s massive SEC arena.
A trip to Williams-Brice Stadium will satisfy all the elements of an electric SEC atmosphere. The energy that ripples through these stands is challenging to duplicate, and it can pulsate throughout Columbia on game day.
Set away from downtown Nashville, the campus of Vanderbilt is quaint and cozy. The same can be said for Vanderbilt Stadium, which certainly does not pose an intimidating threat. Beautifully set amongst the buildings on campus, the stadium does not possess the capacity power of its SEC brethren, but its fanbase is definitely loud and loyal.
Even though Lexington lies on the northern portion of SEC country, the southern flavor still lives strongly in Kentucky. The scenery toward Lexington is what one might expect with rolling hills giving way to fenced in horse pastures. Additionally, the fans might be what most expect as hoards of devoted tailgaters surround the stadium and songs like, “Shootin’ Rabbits With a 22,” tend to remind visitors that they are in the south. The wide mass of fans dressed in blue moves like ocean waves toward Commonwealth Stadium to watch the band perform its traditional parade around the stadium prior to kickoff. Kentucky’s band bangs out “Kentucky Fight” while fans stop to cheer along.
The smoke off the mountains welcomes visitors to Knoxville. These massive natural structures highlight the beauty of this Tennessee town. The Tennessee River that runs along Neyland Stadium adds to this picturesque venue and is the site of a tradition known as the Volunteer Navy. Here, a bevy of boats of all sizes line up along the river side to engage in pregame tailgating. Neyland Stadium is one of only two stadiums accessible by boat, and Vol fans have turned this into one of college football’s most unique traditions.
Although Missouri football lacks a bit in tradition compared to its SEC siblings, Memorial Stadium offers plenty of atmosphere. Driving along Stadium Boulevard, parked cars are lined up for miles creating a pathway to the stadium. Welcoming fans into the arena is a large statue of Don Faurot for whom the field is named after. Faurot coached at Missouri and left a great legacy during the mid 1900s. However, the fans have seen mounds of frustration over the years and their mood reflects that.