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Tailgating Big XII Style

Football and pregame tailgating are two things that just go together, like macaroni & cheese, pizza & beer, bratwurst & sauerkraut, burgers & fries, and the Big 10 & suckage on the field.   I was recently reminded about tailgating, as I've done it here and there, especially on road trips.  Truth be told, Memorial Stadium's proximity to downtown makes gameday in Lincoln much more of a "bar" event than a tailgating scene, though there certainly are a fair share of tailgaters surrounding the stadium.  (Kind of hard to get a good tailgating atmosphere underneath an interstate bridge though.)

So as we get ready for this football season, I thought I'd rate the venues I've visited around the Big XII for tailgating.  I haven't been to several stadiums, so it's an incomplete list.  I haven't been to a game in Boulder yet because of (a) the general inhospitality of Buff fans to anyone wearing red and (b) Thanksgiving weekend is generally a time for family.  In the past, tickets in Austin and College Station have been downright impossible to get through official channels, and I haven't been willing to spend the time traveling deep into Texas and miss the game.  So they're off the board as well.

I've only been to Stillwater once, and that was back in the early 90's, so my recollections of the area are out-of-date and somewhat fuzzy.  Norman was part of an organized trip in 1996 where I received complimentary transportation to the stadium, so I didn't get a lay of the land.  So I really won't be able to review them either.  For all these other stadiums, I'm reviewing the aesthetics and the availability of good tailgating areas.  You can tailgate just about anywhere, it's just easier some places than at others.  Parking garages are the tailgaters enemy; while they help keep you dry, you just can't grill in a parking garage even if the authorities permitted it.

With that in mind:

Iowa State:  There is so much potential for an awesome tailgating experience in Ames with expansive parking areas near the stadium.  Think Arrowhead Stadium, but lacking one key ingredient:  a decent football team.  (Well, nowadays, Arrowhead now shares that same problem.)  Wind can be a problem getting your grill started, as well as keeping your plates and food from being forwarded to Des Moines.

Kansas State:  Shares a few characteristics with Ames, but with a much better football tradition in recent years.  Parking lots are aren't as large as in Ames, but you can tell that some Wildcat fans are serious about their tailgating when the University provides bins for hot coals like at Arrowhead.

Kansas:  In terms of aesthetics, it's hard to top Kansas.  You don't have the endless sea of parking lots, but you do have the most scenic campus in the Big XII.  So yeah, you have to walk a bit further over Mount Oread, but plenty of places to have a great tailgate.  We like to park over by Allen Fieldhouse and then walk through the campus.  It's a spectacular walk when the leaves are turning.

Baylor:  A bit of a surprise here.  The authorities frown on alcohol here, and the football has been traditionally bad.  But some decent parking wide open parking surrounding the stadium.  Only visited once, so my recollection might be a bit murky.

Texas Tech:  Parking is a little bit limited surrounding the stadium, but an interesting option is the shopping center across the street.  Several bars and restaurants are located temptingly close for you to convince you to skip the grill completely, and if you forget something, there's a grocery store located right across the street.

Missouri:  AJ the Huskerh8r thinks it's "something special".  Maybe the specific group he tailgates with puts on one heck of a great spread, but overall, well, Missouri just isn't set up to support tailgating except in the lots for the boosters of substance.  Hey, if you want to grab sandwiches, you probably can park for free in one of the campus parking garages.  But that's not really tailgating.

Nebraska.  Lincoln is known for a lot of things on game days, but tailgating isn't really one of them.  A lot of parking is in parking garages and underneath the interstate bridges, which isn't conducive to great tailgating.  The proximity of downtown's restaurants and bars is the preferred alternative for many fans.  It's a great atmosphere on game days; it's just not tailgating per 'se.

In my experiences traveling with the Huskers, the best tailgating I've encountered is at the Rose Bowl.  The setting along the Arroyo Seca is simply breathtaking, with the golf course fairways providing plenty of room for tailgating.  (As long as it's not raining.)  The stadium itself is another thing entirely; perhaps the worst hole ever to host a college football game.  (The Rose Bowl should have been demolished before Miami's Orange Bowl, for example.)  But if you can haul in a generator and a big screen TV, you can sit back and tailgate throughout the game and enjoy the game better than the poor souls who use their tickets.