Friday, October 8, 2010

Going South: Oregon big time college festivities and fandom take on an SEC look.

When did Pac-10 football fans start channeling the SEC?

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 5:50 PM

First came the over-the-top pre and post-game tailgate parties. Then came those little pennants that attach to car windows and stand straight out and flap in the breeze at speeds over 10 mph declaring love for either the Ducks or Beavers. Finally, someone painted his or her house in U of O colors.

Obviously big time football in Oregon is getting more "Southernized" every year. Because it's down south where tailgating, car flags, and home team colored houses took on a life of their own years ago establishing the fandom benchmark.

Look no further than tailgating at the Georgia-Florida game. For years called the world's largest outdoor cocktail party, this tailgate lasts almost a week. Note that the "cocktail" has been dropped in most recent news coverage but it's still implied.

And it's not just Georgia-Florida, but every game in a part of the U.S. where college football is about as close to a religion as it can get. And it seems to be getting that way in Oregon which is odd for those of us who remember when Oregon was a perennial Pac-10 non-title contender and Oregon State was considered by opponents an easy win. Now both schools have big national football reputations, expressive fan bases and much talked about coaches.

Oregon coach Chip Kelly is touted as football's new offensive genius. Oregon State's Mike Riley is praised as one of the last good guys in college football coaching - and he's a Corvallis native to boot.

But neither coach has had any influence on the things that go on around the game, including the scenes that look way south of the Mason-Dixon line.

But to be fair, Washington was the first school to offer a tip of the hat to the Deep South when alums and fans inaugurated the huge floating tailgate on Lake Washington years ago. That event could easily be called the world's largest floating cocktail party.

Then, as is befitting the quirky Pac 10, there's the completelack of any discernable tailgating at Cal games. That's because there's nomassive parking area at Cal's Memorial stadium. Fans park on Berkeley streets or in its public garages.

The only thing maybe even remotely close to a tailgate at Cal is the free-for-all partying that takes place on "Cheapskate" /"Tightwad" (take your pick) hill at the north-east corner ofthe stadium.

During one Cal football season I consumed more cheap wine and had more contact highs than a person should be allowed in a lifetime while watching games for free from the hill.

So, I like that Cal has no tailgating. I do like the school's time honored tradition of the marching band parading through campus after every home game and finishing with a few fight songs and the alumni anthem in Sproul Plaza.

Moving back north, perhaps before things get way too SEC in Corvallis and Eugene, Duck and Beaver fans will come up with a truly unique Oregonian twist on tailgating and showing college pride and demonstrate to Southerners that fans out here know how to go one better.

In closing, it should be noted that the football fans who took their horse and buggies to the 1896 Princeton-Rutgers games and had a picnic that inadvertently started the tailgate craze did not have little pennants supporting their team festooning their buggies.

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