The SEC is home to some of the coolest game day traditions and toughest environments in all of college football. Whether you find yourself in Death Valley for a night game or at the Grove trying to pass the hours, traditions run deep in the south. I would recommend any person reading this article to go to an SEC game, even if you’re not a fan of any of the schools, but to just soak up the experience as each place has something very unique about it.
The things that make this conference so great are the vast differences in experiences that you will have at each respective University. The conference plays host to some of the most amazing game-day experiences in all of college football.
The list I have comprised includes everything from the tailgating scene to the actual environment of the game, but with nothing to do with the quality of teams. Below, Roll Tide Wire ranks the 14 best game-day environments in the SEC:
Vanderbilt doesn’t have much for a tailgating scene, or even a game atmosphere. In part, some of that has to do with having very poor teams in recent memory, but for the Nashville area they need to find a way to get more people involved. First Bank Stadium barely seats more than 40,000 people, most of which are usually road fans.
Missouri has one of the poorer tailgating scenes in the conference with some calling it “a Big 12 atmosphere.” It’s been a while since the Tigers played in a big time home game, but they don’t quite have that southern charisma of the other schools in the SEC. Although, I have heard really good things about Columbia as a college town.
The tailgating scene in Lexington isn’t too bad at all and the home game environments have gotten a lot better with some success over the past few years, but can they sustain it? Kentucky has been bad as a program for so long that there hadn’t been much to celebrate before Mark Stoops, but now the stadium is much more full and the red solo cups are even more empty.
When you think of the elite college football towns in America, Fayetteville just doesn’t quite have that pull. The Hogs are trending in the right direction, but as a program that had half-empty stadiums up until two years ago, I refuse to put them higher on the list. The Gardens is supposed to be a really cool place to tailgate ahead of a game though.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Not much about Mississippi State or Davis Wade Stadium makes it a feared location for any road team. The games can be above average and the cowbells certainly make for one of the rowdier experiences in the conference as well, but Starkville makes for one of the poorest tailgating scenes in the conference.
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium or better known as the Swamp is one of the most terrifying venues in all of college football. At right around a capacity of 90,000 it makes for a loud and awesome environment, but not the biggest in the SEC. There is no stand-out tailgating scene though that is unique to Florida as most takes place in the basketball arena’s parking lot.
With how great of a bar scene there is in Athens, there isn’t a great tailgating area for Georgia gamedays. The games themselves are a really great time as Sanford Stadium fits about 2,000 more fans than Florida with 92,000 total. Part of what makes the UGA atmosphere so good though is because of how dominant the actual team is right now versus being just a tough place to play.
This is where the list starts to get a lot tougher as Columbia, South Carolina is an absolutely amazing place to take in a game. The tailgating scene is in the top half of the conference and “Sandstorm” makes for one of the coolest scenes in college sports. In any other conference, the Gamecocks are top three with ease.
The “Vol Navy” consists of about 200 boats that dock outside of Neyland Stadium as one of their really cool traditions. There are a lot of things to do throughout the course of the day that make Knoxville a really cool place to be. With a stadium that holds over 100,000 people too, a game under the lights in Tennessee would be a heck of a time.
Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies have some really unique traditions such as the Midnight Yell where A&M fans pack Kyle Field at midnight for a giant pep rally. The tailgating scene is a very good one, but not better than some of the other schools on this list. They are home to the 12th Man and one of the toughest environments in college football. Kyle Field can get absolutely rocking in big games.
Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss has probably not only the best tailgating scene in the SEC, but the entire country with the Grove. It’s a massive outdoor area outside of the stadium where virtually everyone has TVs and drinking games set up. The Ole Miss fans are typically very welcoming and enjoyable to be around. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is not the most electric environment by any means though.
While it pains me to put Auburn on this list, Jordan-Hare Stadium is one of the most unique experiences in the SEC. The tailgating scenes are excellent and the fans arrive really early. Something about playing at Auburn is just so daunting and weird with the miracle at Jordan-Hare and the Kick Six, but JHS gets really dang loud too. One of the toughest road environments in the country for sure.
Alabama Crimson Tide
A game day in Tuscaloosa, AL is a bucket-list item for almost any college football fan, and for good reason. The majority of the tailgating action takes place on the Quad, but the Walk of Champions is a really cool feature for first-time goers as well. Bryant-Denny Stadium exceeds 100,000 in capacity as well and currently holds the longest home winning streak in the country making it one of the two or three most difficult places to play. Similar to UGA though, Alabama benefits from having a great team every year to fill the stadium.
Baton Rouge is an amazing place to go visit for a game, the fans are not the friendliest, but they take their football very seriously and I can respect it. There are a lot of game-day activities like seeing Mike the Tiger or trying some local gumbo and daiquiri that give you plenty of options as to how you want to spend your day. Then you cap it off with the most intimidating venue in college football, Death Valley. Even if you’re not an LSU fan, it’s one thing every person who lives in the SEC stratosphere needs to experience.