Tusk to Tail: We begin eating our way to a bowl game

It is 9,000 miles to Graceland for Tusk to Tail this year, the site of the Liberty Bowl. Perhaps we could end up in Shreveport, but I would prefer Memphis if the Hogs can scratch out a 6-6 season.

Tusk to Tail will travel by plane twice, charter a party bus once, and caravan in our own vehicles the rest of the time. It all starts this weekend “On the Hill” in the equatorially hot and humid Ozarks. I can’t remember the last time the opening game on campus was predicted to be this hot and muggy.

We plan to have some electric fans scattered around the tailgate but I’m not sure how much they will actually help. Thankfully we have some rather large shade trees and 900 square feet of canvas to offer refuge. We will chill nearly 300 bottles of water and Gatorade to make sure everyone stays hydrated.

With the University of Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns on campus, we naturally decided to go with a Cajun-themed menu, even though that is how we wrapped up the 2012 season against LSU. We have ordered 300 Spicy and Mild chicken tenders from Popeye’s, a pot of seafood gumbo, and some shrimp jambalaya.

Powerhouse Seafood & Grill, located just off Dickson Street, has some Cajun dishes on their catering menu that has us licking our chops, as well.

Of course we will grill plenty of bratwursts to serve along with chips, cheese dip, and My Brother’s Salsa. My Brother’s has a line of great-tasting products made locally and sold across the country. You can find their salsas at area Sam’s Clubs and Wal-Mart stores, as well as smaller craft food shops and meat markets.

I’ve already done some scouting this week to make sure we are getting the best price we can for the food and drinks. I’ll be stocking up on drinks Thursday night and hitting the stores Friday afternoon to buy the bulk of the supplies. Greg Houser and I will pack up the new trailer on Friday, and we are excited to see just how much stuff we can pack in there.

The first tailgate of the season is always a little slow to come together. Everyone is just so happy to finally be out there that we get to talking and catching up and lagging on the task at hand. To help with that, I plan to make a quick trip up to Victory Village on Friday evening to hang some banners and make sure the tables are set up correctly.

In addition, we will have some pre-assigned duties for everyone to help keep things moving along. That should save some time and sweat come Saturday morning. In that same line of thought, some items that I think every prepared tailgater should keep in a basket include the following:
• Hand sanitizer
• Moist wipes
• Lighter
• Sunscreen
• First aid kit
• Duct tape
• Advil or similar pain reliever
• “Tide to Go” pen
• Extra batteries
• Phone chargers
• Flash light
• Small tool kit

These are all fairly nonessential items, but once requested, your preparedness will be much appreciated and could salvage the afternoon for a guest.

Finally, Tusk to Tail’s Godfather of Tailgating Craig May activated the Tailgater satellite receiver from Dish Network today. By waiting this late, we should only pay for three months of coverage. That will carry us through the Mississippi State game in Little Rock in late November. After that, we will be in Baton Rouge enjoying the hospitality and tailgate of some friends down there.

The season is upon us and I know we are all anxious to see what this coaching staff has prepared for us.

I’m ready. Bring on the Cajuns!