AUBURN – Washington State fans who travel with the team will have to determine who has the best tailgaters in the country. The Cougars travel to Auburn next Saturday for a 4 pm ET game on ESPNU, then travel to USC the next week for a 7:30 ET game on Fox Sports 1 – thus pitting them against the top two tailgating schools in the country according to a new Yahoo Sports ranking. Former USC great and conservative activist Riki Ellison weighed in on the comparison of fans.
“When we traveled to Auburn to open the season and I couldn’t believe how friendly the fans were,” Ellison told me previously before reminding me of the 23-0 beat down USC put on Auburn 10 years ago from next Friday. Ellison won a national title at USC, three Superbowl rings, and now runs the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. “I even had to leave my USC flag and some other items to run get something, and the Auburn tailgaters volunteered to watch it and make sure no one disturbed it.”
A year after USC destroyed Auburn I returned his trip – marveling as USC barely survived a Stanford upset bid. LenDale White scored on a 2-yard run with 6:15 left for a 31-28 victory that ultimately resulted in USC, not Auburn, winning the national title.
“Football is different here,” I relayed to Ellison at the time, after watching USC fans fill three-quarters of the old Stanford Stadium after tailgating for hours. “I pulled into a gas station to ask people where the football stadium was, and no one knew. Then I pulled out and realized it was just a few blocks away.”
While Auburn has lost most of its football games since Cam Newton dropped into the local places such as Walgreens, the school now has a double claim to being the best place to be BEFORE the opening kickoff for a combination of tailgating and the War Eagle pre-game show.
USC’s superior enthusiasm was one reason they grabbed almost all of the West Coast talent for years, while Auburn competes with an SEC that includes the other three schools in the top 5 tailgating list (Alabama, Mississippi and LSU).
Schad’s comments on the War Eagle tradition being the best in football stunned Mark May, who quickly reeled off several traditions the believed to be better than Auburn’s NOVA swooping down to kill fake prey. Schad was persona non grata around the Auburn campus in 2010, when he was blamed by many in Auburn for the investigation of Cam Newton.