Tusk to Tail: Prepping for the clangers and reflections from the hardest working man in tailgating
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story by Dale Cullins
Editor’s note: Welcome to the fourth season of Tusk to Tail – the sport of tailgating as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together sober and otherwise for more than a decade. Members of the Tusk to Tail Team are Sean Casey, Jack Clark, Dale Cullins, Greg Houser, Craig May, David Rice and Mark Wagner. Tusk to Tail is managed by Talk Business & Politics. Legal representation is iffy at best and professional psychological help is typically ignored, if not mocked.
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It looked pretty bleak in September after three straight losses to teams we all thought the Hogs would handle with ease. But just like last year the Hogs have come snorting back with a vengeance, beating two ranked teams in back-to-back weeks on the road.
Each game was fun in its own way, but if you’ve ever been to Baton Rouge and experienced the fans there, it makes the victory that much sweeter. It’s not that the fans are evil or mean, they are just arrogant and always reminding you where you are and that you are “Tiger Bait.” The sooner they get you to feel that way, I’m sure they assume your team will feel the same.
The tailgating spot we picked worked out great, and the weather was perfect. We parked on Friday and never moved our trucks until it was time to head home on Sunday. It doesn’t get any better than that on any campus at which we’ve been fortunate enough to tailgate. The hotel, the stadium, and several bars and restaurants were all within easy walking distance to our spot. We all commented on how easy it was, and how we look forward to going back to Baton Rouge. It is safe to assume that they failed to instill any fear in Tusk to Tail.
The Bulldogs of Mississippi State are coming in this week for a 6:15 p.m. match up on The Hill, and the weather looks to be cooperating for the most part. Perhaps it will be a bit cool, but at least we will be dry.
With such a long day, we will start up around 9 a.m. I expect a nice crowd after the recent success, and I’ve heard of a lot of folks looking for tickets to this game and next week’s vs Missouri. We will keep the menu easy with some BBQ and chicken strips as we have not done that since early October. We may even break out a few heaters to help keep the chill off of the folks who stay out during the game and watch from the tent.
I’ll go up early on Friday and check the ground conditions from continued utility work for the widening project on Maple. Further straw may be required. I will also hang some banners, cords and cables to speed things along on Saturday. It sounds like a lot of work, but goes pretty fast. I’m usually on my own, and know how and what is needed to accomplish the task without distraction.
Which got me to thinking about the list I promised early this season, which was hostile fan bases or the welcoming you can expect from the various venues around the SEC.
Without a doubt, coming in at number 1 is LSU. They take the King Cake, so to speak, when it comes to not making you feel welcome. They honk, they give finger gestures, they cuss you, and they yell “Tiger Bait” at every opportunity. We’ve come to expect it and as long as you don’t take it personally, it’s not an issue. I really don’t think it’s meant to be personal. I think it is just part of their way of setting the mood and putting that seed of doubt in the opposing fan base’s mind. Copious amounts of liquor only fan the flames.
Second place goes to Florida. Plenty of students and other young men are happy to lay some extra words and a “Gator Bait” in your direction. That being said, we have also met plenty of friendly and welcoming fans there. To be fair, we have plenty of friendly LSU fans as well.
Third place goes to Kentucky. I know you are thinking to yourself what in the world would Kentucky fans have to be mouthy about? You would be right when it comes to football. However, I think it rubs off on them from basketball. They are fairly nice and quiet on the way in but once they get up or actually win, they can give it with the best of them.
I would give fourth place to Alabama. Bama fans are nice for the most part, but they have such a tradition of winning that they get a bit arrogant and prideful and forget how to win with class at times. But really, name a fan base who hasn’t done that at one time or another.
After that, you can pretty much lump the rest of the conference all together under Southern Hospitality. In all of my trips to Auburn, Starkville, Dallas, Oxford, Nashville, Knoxville, College Station, Athens and both Columbia’s (SC and MO), I don’t remember a harsh word being yelled in my direction. There is just plenty of fans glad you made the trip and ready to offer you some food or a beverage, and talk a little football.
So if you are thinking of a trip to watch the Hogs next year don’t hesitate. Win or lose, it’s a great experience. What could be more fun than enjoying a college football game with your closest family or friends and your team in a game on one of the great campuses of the SEC? With a little luck and a good team you may even get a win and will understand what the Godfather Craig May means when he says, “That is why we do this!”