November 13, 2009
Our weekly tailgating guide is back in SEC country for Auburn's sojourn to Georgia, the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. Bring your spare liver and make sure your plastic surgeon is on speed dial.
The Lowdown. Whether you're a grizzled SEC partisan or a first-timer, the Georgia-Auburn weekend is one of the must-see experiences of college football. The rivalry dates back more than a century, but isn't particularly nasty (though some old-timers still insist on bringing the hate), so you'll get more chances to make friends with strangers and fewer cocktails flung in your face.
The word that best sums up the gameday experience is abundance: Lots of people, lots of tents, lots of food, lots of booze. There are so many people milling about that you can pretty much just sidle up to any tailgate you want, act like you know half the people there, and start drinking their beer; it's kind of like "Wedding Crashers" without the wedding. And contrary to what you might have heard, they're pretty welcoming to opposing fans. Take advantage of this last -- Georgia's female population is among the very finest in the country. (Friend of the blog Clay Travis suggests this has something to do with the HOPE scholarship, a program that allows any high school student in the state with a B average to attend Georgia for free, and the leftover tuition money being delegated to, er, certain cosmetic enhancements for coeds. We've seen no evidence to disprove this.)
Know before you go: You can avoid a lot of traffic by coming into central Athens on the Route 10 loop, getting off at the U.S. 441 exit, taking a right on College Avenue, and following that into downtown. If you're prepared to do some hunting (and some walking), you can find cheap parking, and as long as you're not on a yellow curb you won't get towed. You're restricted from setting up tailgates until 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, and that time is strictly enforced. You can find answers to most of your gameday logistics questions at this handy site. Above all else, be prepared to hike. A lot. The campus stretches on endlessly from north to south, but it's a gorgeous walk this time of year.
As far as gameday traditions, there's the Dawg Walk to witness (about the same as every other school), Bulldog mascot Uga VII to coo at (his handlers tailgate somewhere in the vicinity of the Tate, and you'll occasionally catch him hanging out around the WSB 750 tent pregame), the Hedges (if everyone who'd claimed to have urinated on them had actually urinated on them the school would've floated away long ago), and the Battle Hymn solo. Quoth our embedded Athens correspondent,
"Sure, it's not some carrion bird infecting a stadium of 90,000 with avian flu as it slowly circles the filthy, unwashed masses underneath -- but it's equally moving in its own right and leads to far less projectile vomiting and debilitating fevers."
What To Wear. For guys: Golf shirts are de rigueur, though jerseys are perfectly acceptable. Ladies, pick out some combination of red, black, and white, show some leg, hike that rack up, and bickety-bam, you're good to go. Actually, this late in the season I expect we'll see black leggings in full force, but those Georgia girls' upper torso regions will still be spitting in the face of gravity just as brazenly as ever. Seriously, those things are architectural marvels.
• Five Star Day, 229 E Broad Street. Unbelievable comfort food and boasting a "Kool-Aid of the Day" on the menu.
• Allgood Lounge, 256 E Clayton Street. Good rooftop bar with a nice view of the city.
• Trappeze Pub, 269 N Hull Street. One of the best beer selections in Athens, which is saying something.
• City Bar, 220 College Avenue. Will serve you up a PBR or a vodka martini with equal aplomb.
• The Grill, 171 College Avenue. A diner open 24/7 for all your hangover-staving needs. Service varies from quirky to surly, but the feta fries are worth it.
• Boar's Head Tavern, 260 E Washington Street. Somewhat fratty and crowded as a Mumbai commuter train on game nights, but there are few better or more energetic places to celebrate an unexpected victory. Plus they'll grill you a burger.
• Washington Street Tavern, 318 E Washington Street. Good hangout where the likelihood of running into one of Athens's many world-famous musicians is probably about as high as it is at any bar downtown.
• Flanagan's, 301 E Clayton Street. Supposedly substantial portions of the football team congregate here whether they've just won or lost.
What To Drink. One Georgia grad responds, "Our signature cocktail is 'a lot.'" Beyond that, credit the maestros of the legendary Tent City tailgate for the invention of the Cherrishinski, which is basically a maraschino cherry that's spent the night soaking in grain alcohol and named for former quarterback Joe Tereshinski III, a third-generation Dawg who's name will be remembered far longer for dropping coeds than for anything he did on the field.