We all know that college football in the South exists in a league of its own—from the amazing game-day noshes to our very own Tailgate Creed. As someone who only moved down to Birmingham a few months ago, discovering the cult of Southern football has been nothing short of enchanting. I can honestly say that I have never seen this level of enthusiasm above the Mason-Dixon line, whether it is the intense rivalries or the decked out cars and houses. Of course, I still have much to learn when it comes to game-day traditions. To that end, I’ve recruited the help of a few our experts on staff to bring you a short list of our favorite “Only in the South” football moments.
Caroline McKenzie, Associate Editor for Travel & Features:
- Nowhere else do couples plan their weddings around a football schedule. If a bride wants to avoid guests huddled around a flat screen at her reception—or worse yet, mailbox full of RSVP regrets—she better schedule her big day on a non-gameday.
- Nowhere else will you find tailgates full of kids named after past players. At Tennessee there are plenty of Peytons (as in Peyton Manning). And at Alabama there are enough Pauls, Bears, and Bryants that the folks named after legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant have an annual get-together before the first home game.
- Nowhere else is “Sunday Best” trotted out one day early. Here in the South sundresses and pearls, blazers and bow ties are as common place at a tailgate as they are a cocktail party.
Erin Street, Senior Editor, Travel & Integrated Contact:
- Nowhere else is a battle cry an acceptable greeting/hello/goodbye under any circumstance. In the South, team mottos like “Roll Tide,” “Hotty Toddy,” and “War Eagle” are accepted substitutes for “How are you doing?” and “Hello there.”
- Nowhere else are people frequently asked, “Who is your team?” In fact, this one is asked as much as other quintessential Southern questions such as, “Where are your people from?” and “Where do you fellowship?”
- Nowhere else do babies receive smocked, monogrammed team color attire before they are born. Down South, you don’t just choose your team—you’re born into it!
Here are a couple of my favorites from Sports Illustrated writer and Southern Living contributor Andrew Lawrence:
- Nowhere else do football games register on the Richter Scale. On Oct. 8, 1988, LSU trailed Auburn at home 6-0 with less than 2 minutes left when LSU quarterback Tommy Hodson found tailback Eddie Fuller in the end zone for the winning touchdown. The score whipped the crowd of 79,431 at Tiger Stadium into a frenzy that reverberated in Baton Rouge. A day later the stunned campus geologists discovered the moment had registered on the Richter scale. Tiger stadium hasn’t played host to any official seismic events since, but its crowds have produced enough intimidating ones to keep opponents quaking in their cleats.
- Nowhere else is tailgating a military exercise. Alabama has its RV army, whose troops converge by the hundreds on Crimson Tide games. And Tennessee has its Volunteer Navy, a fleet of various vessels that collects in equally impressive numbers around Neyland Stadium–one of only two college football venues accessible by water.
- Nowhere else are animal mascots part of the family. Texas has Bevo the longhorn, Oklahoma has twin ponies Boomer and Sooner, and Arkansas has Tusk the razorback.
Now it’s your turn! What are your favorite football moments that could only exist in the South? Tell us in the comments below for a chance to win one of five $200 Publix gift cards. Official rules here.