Epic Carnival | Where Sports and Pop Culture Collide: MY TRIP TO DEATH VALLEY


by WCT, Wasting Company Time

Beano Cook, the 76-year-old ESPN college football analyst/curmudgeon once said that one thing he would like to do before he dies is see a football game at night in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. Beano, get on that, because I have now done it, and its worth it.

Because I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy who is like the king of LSU tailgating, and because I am a huge football fan with nothing better to do, I went with a couple of friends to the Florida-LSU game last Saturday in the Bayou. This is my story.

Friday, October 5, 2007 2:45 pm Central Time - We arrive in Baton Rouge and meet up with Jacques, the king of the LSU tailgaters. This guy does not screw around. Every week Jacques tries to have the food he cooks relate to LSU's opponent, so fried alligator is on the menu for Saturday.

5:00 pm - Off to the bar for game 2 of the Yankees-Indians series. Nearly four hours, 12 innings, and several thousand bugs later, the Indians are up 2-0 in the series. There was much rejoicing.

8:57 pm - After the Euphoria of the Indians game wore off, we sat down at the hotel bar to catch an few innings of Angels-Red Sox game 2. Who happened to sit down two bar stools over? None other than former embattled Colorado Buffalo coach Gary Barnett. Very weird encounter. I overheard Coach Barnett complaining about something Petros Papadakis said on TV, and boasting about "his Rockies," before leaving with his entourage for ribs and beer.

Saturday October 6, 9:00 am - We arrive on campus just in time to get a good spot on the College Gameday set. You have no idea what a special experience this is for me. The chant of the day among the Tiger fans appears to be "Teabag Tebow!" I'm not exactly sure how I feel about this. Are they saying that they want to teabag Tebow? Someone didn't think that one through.9:50 am - Back to the tailgate spot to check on Jacques, who has been setting up since six in the morning. Did I mention that the game starts at 7:30 pm? I told you this dude is serious.

10:30 am - I am introduced to the game of "washers." Was I the only one who didn't know about this game?10:45 am - Maybe I'm late to the party because I have spent most of my life above the Mason-Dixon line, but Shiner Bock is damn good beer. Does anyone know if they sell it in Manhattan? And yes, I'm drinking beer at 10:45 in the morning, but my body is still on Eastern time, so its really like I'm having a beer at 11:45 in the morning. So there.

10:56 am - Jacques shows me that he can open a beer bottle with his wedding ring. That, my friends, is a man who has a loving wife.

10:58 am - Back to the Gameday set in time for the picks. Kirk picks Florida and the crowd is livid. I seriously thought they were going set the College Gameday bus on fire. Luckily, disaster is averted as Lee Corso puts on the tiger head. The place goes nuts. What does that say about our society that a man in his 70s putting on a stuffed tiger mask causes thousands of college kids to lose their minds? 12:24 pm - Back at the tailgate for fried alligator. Which, by the way, is amazing.

12:40 pm - Our official heckle of any Florida fan that walks by our tailgate party has become "Don't tase me bro! Don't tase me!" I seriously hope this catches on nationwide.

1:25 pm - Watching games on a small TV, Wisconsin playing themselves out of national title contention, Maryland of all people playing their way into top 25 consideration.

3:30 pm - I went to college in New York, so we call it "boat racing," down here they call it "flip cup." Kind of like how some people call beer pong "beruit." Whatever it is, I'm dominating.

4:05 pm - James Carville makes an appearance! Very strange looking guy in person.

5:59 pm - What is it about the song "Sweet Caroline" that makes people go crazy? It comes up on Jacques' playlist, and people flock to our tent just to do that stupid "BUMP! BUMP! BUUUUMP!" thing. Can someone explain this to me?

6:00 pm - OU finishes off Texas in a game that was closer than I thought it would be. Time to make the walk over to the game!

7:05 pm - "Saban Sux" is the only shirt I have seen as often as "Teabag Tebow." He left LSU like three or four years ago! These people never forget.

Thoughts on the game:

- We were sitting in the nose-bleed section, among mostly Florida fans. Surprisingly, Gator fans made up about 15% of the crowd

- This game was there for the taking for the Gators, but they just couldn't put LSU away. LSU may be the best team in the nation, but seeing them in person, I can say they are very beatable.

- The Tigers simply refuse to throw the ball downfield. I don't know if its because they don't trust Flynn or Perrilloux, but it seemed like every play was an option or draw play.

- LSU got the benefit of some very favorable spots on a couple of those 4th down plays they went for late in the game. If any one of those isn't converted, the Gators win the game.

- Les Miles lost all confidence in his kicker, and its hard to blame him.

- At about 9:41 pm, right after an LSU touchdown, the PA system announced the final in the Stanford-USC game, and the crowd reation was one part amazement, one part cheering, one part out-and-out laughter.

So there you have it. Just another Saturday in Death Valley. (And by the way, LSU and Clemson have to get together and solve this whole "Death Valley" thing. Only one of you should be able to call your home field by that name.) The tailgating was as advertised, and the game was everything I could have hoped for. I would urge each of you, if you are a fan of college football, to see a night game at Tiger Stadium before you die.

7 comment(s):

More Credible said...

I would've gone had it not been for the fundage.

I hear so much about that place though.

WCT said...

you gotta go. The only problem with Baton Rouge is the lack of decent bars. How can a school so big have like 2 bars near campus?

Anonymous said...

well here are some very interesting parallels with your lack of college football knowledge. You've never heard of washers, you've never tailgated in the early morning for a prime time game before, you arbitrarily "rejoice" when the yankees lose regardless of who's playing them, never heard of flip cup? get the f outta here, you don't know that basically every major college in america gets drunk and sings sweet caroline, you went to college in NY... ughhhhh why did you get to go to this game? so out of your element.

Anonymous said...

you know what, I just read my above comment and had an epiphany. Why am I picking on you? I don't know you. Maybe you are a decent person. I'm very happy for you that you had an awesome time at LSU, and I'm extremely jealous.

Jerry said...

I see, you were in the nosebleed section and you thought LSU got a couple of favorable spots?? Nice. Try watching the replay (it always amazes me who actually ends up yapping on the internet).

YOU can say LSU is very beatable?! Do you actually watch much football? When it absolutely mattered,LSU rammed it right down Florida's throat and Florida could do nothing to stop them. In Florida's last REAL chance to put together a score, LSU forced a 3 and out!! Sounds like the stuff of champions to me.
One last observation--Nobody is upset with Saban LEAVING 3 years ago--it about were he RETURNED last year. But you're forgiven--you just need to get out more

More Credible said...

LSU was down 10 points in the fourth quarter. Yeah, they came back, but teams that are supposed to be world beaters don't put themselves in a hole like that.

Don't get me wrong, they are flat out the #1 team in the country, but they're beatable. Pretty much every team is this season. There's more parity this season that's ever been before.

Anonymous said...

Shiner boch is one of the best beers in the country. They don't sell it in Manhattan or teh east coast for that matter. I've looked everywhere. I do know that Doc Holliday's on the L.E.S sells Lone star beer which is decent compared to the glory of shiner boch.

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