Tailgate Styles Depending on Kickoff Time

wk5_trailerIs a sprint or a marathon? Football tailgates are a lot of fun, but each tailgate has its own style that generally is dependent on the kickoff time. After all, you only have so much time to get a good buzz going before kickoff. And to get a good meal in. And see friends. And trash talk opponents.

Kegs and Eggs

Noon kickoffs are the sprint tailgates! It helps if you wake-up at the tailgate like RVers do. But a noon kickoff is just hard to do. Usually, the noon tailgates involve breakfast – casseroles that you can make the night before are popular. As are Chick-Fil-A biscuits. You just don’t have much time to get in the football spirit, especially if you had a little too much spirit the night before. If you don’t time it right, you’ll end up eating stadium food or forgetting lunch all together. Not good when you are indulging in lots of alcohol.

Setting up an RV tailgate... almost time to get the party started
Setting up an RV tailgate… almost time to get the party started

Noon kickoff times are especially hard early in the season when it is still hot outside. RVers have to run the generators all day and night to keep the AC going. You’ll want lots of showers to get the sweat off – using up valuable freshwater in the tanks (I’ve been known to take up to 3 showers on really hot games – morning, after game, evening). At least your RV hot water tank doesn’t have to put in a lot of work on these games.

The flip side is that a noon or 12:30 kickoff time gives you time for a full size post-game meal. If you are doing something on the smoker or crockpot, you can set it up in the morning, check on it a few times and then head into the game. By the time the game is over, you will have dinner almost ready. Friends will stick around after for a good meal instead of sitting in traffic, whereas with a 3:30 game, they are more likely to head on home or out on the town shortly after the game.

Oh Look, Another Sandwich

Easy to grill items like burgers and brats are common for a 3:30 kickoff time tailgate
Easy to grill items like burgers and brats are common for 3:30 kickoff times

3:30 is the bastard child of tailgate times. Typically, we will do a tailgate lunch but for some reason these tend to be less elaborate – more sandwich type meals than full entree things that you’ll get with a noon or night game. Sloppy Joes seem to be our new favorite meal. Even the post-game dinners tend to be on the more basic side – you just don’t have the time after the game to do something elaborate.

3:30 games also tend to be the lightest attended tailgates. Parents try to attend the kids’ soccer games in the morning. In the evening, people decide they still have enough time for a dinner out if they got a babysitter or if no babysitter, they’ll need to get the kids back home before it gets too late. If people are from out-of-town, but not too far away, they might even try to make it from home-game-home all in one day. Just too many other options for the casual tailgater. Even RVers have been known to leave after these games.

Prime Time and Loving It

Night kickoffs and rivalry games go hand in hand
Night kickoffs and rivalry games go hand in hand

Night kickoffs are the holy grail of tailgates. You’ve got Friday night and all day Saturday to tailgate. The menus are elaborate. The whiskey flows easily as does the trash talking. These games generally mean that there is a good match-up between desirable teams for TV purposes. So everyone is excited. You’ll have a full house at the stadium, which generally means that you’ll also get a few extra people at the tailgate. Remember, the more, the merrier!

These tailgates are the marathon of tailgates. Since you have so much time, you have to be a little more careful to pace yourself. It is easy to get carried away with your adult beverage(s) of choice. If you don’t pay attention, it is easy to over-indulge among all the festivity.

Since you have so much time, night games also give you the opportunity to explore campus more. You can visit other tailgates or enjoy the pre-game festivities on the rest of campus. You’ll have time to get a big meal in, as well as walk across campus to greet the team as they come in. Or visit the campus bookstore to buy a new team shirt (or 20).

All and all, night kickoffs are some of our favorites.

Why Do We Have to Work?

While Thursday night games have been popular for awhile now, it seems that we are also expanding into other days of the week. The common thread to these games is that they tend to be on workdays, so your tailgate time is warped – either you’ll have all day because you are retired or took the day off, or you’ll have next to no tailgate because you have to work. And you are battling for space on campus. But while these games can be some of the best, the tailgating generally is not up to par with a traditional Saturday game.

What’s your favorite kickoff time? Comment below!


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