The countdown is on...the coolers are being cleaned, tailgate parties are being planned, tickets have been purchased and hotel reservations are being made...college football for 2017 starts on Saturday, August 26th.
Football in the South is an institution and according to some, a religion.
Marino Casem, who coached at Alcorn State in Mississippi, once said: “In the East, college football is a cultural attraction. On the West Coast, it’s a tourist attraction. In the Midwest, it is cannibalism. But in the South, it’s religion.”
Whether you are watching your child play Pop Warner Football on Saturday morning or watching your college alma mater on Saturday afternoon, football is a tradition in the South and so are rivalries and tailgates. You may be best friends during the week but if you are a Clemson grad and he is a South Carolina alum, come game time you are on opposite sides of the field and your loyalties are divided. Some of the biggest and best college football rivalries take place in the South.
- The Iron Bowl - Alabama vs Auburn
You are either spending your day yelling "Roll Tide" or "War Eagle."
- The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party - Georgia vs Florida
Played in Jacksonville, Florida every year on the river. The name was coined in the 1950s by Bill Kastelz, sports editor for The Florida Times-Union.
- The Sunshine Showdown - Florida State vs. Florida
Started in 1958, the game is played Thanksgiving weekend each year.
- Third Saturday in October - Alabama vs Tennessee
Prior to 1992, when the SEC divided into divisions, it was always played on that day. From 1995 to 2015, they only played 6 times but they played in 2016 and are scheduled to play again this year on October 21st.
- The Palmetto Bowl - Clemson vs South Carolina
Usually played on Thanksgiving weekend, Clemson leads the series 68-42-4.
- The Egg Bowl - Ole Miss vs Mississippi State
Played on Thanksgiving weekend, with 21 of those times being on Thanksgiving day, Ole Miss leads the series 63-44-6.
- Deepest South's Oldest Rivalry - Auburn vs Georgia
Starting in 1892, the teams have played 120 times with Georgia barely leading the series 57-55-8.
- Clean, Old Fashioned Hate - Georgia vs Georgia Tech
Located 70 miles apart, they have been rivals since 1893. You know it has to be heated with a name like this.
**Bowl information from each bowl's wikipedia.
Along with some of the best rivalries, come some of the most amazing tailgates. As you walk through on game day, don't be surprised to see fine china and glassware at one and cute melamine plates at the next. You will be able to tell their allegiance by their decorations and the color of their clothing. Decorations can consist as little as homemade flags or table cloths, custom disposable coasters and napkins. Trays may be color coded by favorite team, depict football sayings, family names or that southern monogram. Some fans will be dressed to the nines and some will be in jeans, shorts and t-shirts. Some will even be shirtless with their chests and faces painted with team spirit.
If you aren't from the South, you may not understand our love of football...and even if you are from the South, you may not love the sport and think we are crazy. But no matter what, everyone should respect the traditions.
NEXT WEEK...on August 10th, I was lucky enough to entertain some of the most fascinating men and women in the Charlotte area for dinner. The decorations were on point, the food was amazing and the conversation engaging. Next week, I will share a little of the behind the scenes as well as introduce you to some great people. Until then, be sure to check out our Instagram for details.