Over the course of the season, there have been certain cities and campuses where I've had a pretty good idea about what to expect. I knew Athens and Boulder would be great college towns, Seattle would probably be wet, the Cocktail Party would probably be the biggest (in pure numbers) tailgate I'd see, and that Penn State would be very, very white (shirt-wise, of course). I knew nothing about Tuscaloosa or what it would be like going to what looked to be the biggest game in quite some time to hit Bryant-Denny Stadium, but there was never any doubt that, looking at the obvious storylines, it'd be pure mayhem. And, uh, it was more than that. I'll let the Bear take us in:
The Paul "Bear" Bryant statue. This thing was like 12 feet tall outside of the stadium with other legendary Alabama figures given similar treatment. I'm not asking for much, but it just makes sense for a statue in my honor somewhere near on the quad - I'll even accept a dedicated Andy Gump to preserve my shimmering Tide legacy.
Camera Guy Casey and I decided to take an old highway - it was actually called the "Old Birmingham Highway" - which proved to be pretty much the worst thing ever after realizing we were stuck behind a gaggle of 18-wheelers on a one lane highway through the backwoods of Alabama. Obviously, we listened to Willie Nelson in our rented Galant and tried not to think about "Deliverance." Let's just continue...
We made it! And so did some LSU fans who felt entitled to shut down a lane of traffic to take a group photo. Nothing wrong with this, but I'm not nearly a good enough driver to be taking a picture of people in the road as I'm driving toward them.
It was $25 to park in a front yard and a short hike through a ravine to get to the main drag by campus. Just don't think for a second we're not an all-terrain production.
Beef sandwiches right off the bat. I love life.
On our way to the quad, where we shot most of the episode. If you ever see me walking around just snapping pictures, I'm not strange and taking creepy pictures of you, I'm just trying to get as many shots as possible of the madness.
This guy knows what I'm talking about. Let's hope.
Nice guy. He yelled "Roll Tide" to just about everyone wearing red (and purple) that walked by his tailgate. Please believe that if you go to a game in Tuscaloosa, he may put his arm around you and start walking with you to say "Roll Tide" over and over. It was sort of endearing, and yet at the same time, invasive. You be the judge.
Ladies! I went with the Nixon pose, but a little goofier. I'm still tweaking my go-to poses. Give it time.
We stumbled across a fish fry, which, I can now say with absolute certainty, is one of the better things to stumble across if you happen to be stumbling. Mm.
A view of the friers (both the chefs and equipment). Ten weeks in, and this was the first tailgate I've seen with its own set of deep friers. My conclusion: essential.
Nothing you couldn't get here. Except skinny, I guess.
Full view of BB. Pretty spectacular.
After the game, people from both schools absolutely flooded the streets near campus. Luckily, there was plenty of food everywhere to cap off another 8,000 calorie adventure.
I'm still not sick of barbecue, even after so many weekends in a row. The fun part is showering the next morning and realizing you're not washing dirt and grime off as much as you are hickory and mesquite. And no, much to everyone's relief, there are no pictures of this process.
BBQ Nachos, which as far as I could tell, are chips, shredded pork, and some sort of nacho cheese/bbq sauce hybrid. My conclusion: Yes.
See? I clearly look like I've been worn down to a nub by not that much sleep, a tedious drive, a day of stuffing myself between stupid questions, a hot sun, and bars with a consistent layer of smoke that doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. I'm still alive, despite the best efforts of my horrendous food judgement.
Next week will be a TEST on the ol' stomach.
The College Football Tour Guide (last season's episodes)
Windows Media Player 9 (for Mac)
Flip4Mac (for Mac)