Besides helpful suggestions for where I need to rank certain teams, the bulk of my writer-reader interaction involves food. Eating is a critical part of the college football experience, so it only makes sense that one of the most common questions I get is this: Which school has the best tailgating?
The answer is easy. LSU. Give an LSU fan an ice chest, pots and pans and an open flame, and you will find yourself eating Heaven Sauce Piquante for a weekend. But last week in Baton Rouge, I happened upon a roving band of tailgaters who could go grill-to-gumbo pot with the locals. And when they aren't setting out a feast for 80, they're putting on the most influential television show in college football.
When Big and Rich assault your eardrums every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. ET to alert you that ESPN's
What's the Roadkill Grill? It's the ultimate tailgate meal, and it happens every Friday afternoon. Marshall, stage manager Justin Endres and a group of crew members spend Friday mornings procuring and cooking a feast for the 75-person crew. Even the on-camera pretty boys get a plate. For example, Lee Corso loves the beef tenderloin, and the Roadkill Grill serves him up healthy-sized piece unless his wife complains that he needs to eat more vegetables. Last week, Marshall, Endres and Jumbotron technician Mike Roberts cooked up their usual offering of tenderloin, beer-can chicken, bratwurst, sautéed mushrooms and bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese. Then, because they always try to add some local flavor, they also cooked up gumbo, crawfish etouffee and jambalaya with Andouille sausage and tasso ham. This week, with
So how did Marshall become a world-class tailgater? He wanted to get to know his new co-workers. In 2004, Marshall was one of the most respected lead drivers in rock 'n' roll. He had hauled major shows across the nation for 28 years. During that time, a fellow trucker within CB range could have asked if the Mayor of Rock 'n' Roll had his ears on, and Marshall's voice would have crackled in reply. Marshall once ate Thanksgiving dinner with the Rolling Stones. He attended crew parties where the members of U2 tended bar. Marshall's granddaughter knows Kid Rock better by his real name, Bob. But at the turn of the century, the music business was changing. Tour budgets were tightening. Meanwhile, friends in the business told Marshall mobile television was about to boom. Marshall could see why. Every time a production truck rolled in to film a show on a tour he worked on, he'd have to move heaven and earth to accommodate it. Even better, the schedule was far more accommodating than the rock tour lifestyle, which sometimes required Marshall to be away from his Columbus, Ohio, home for months at a time. "They said, 'You can be home 10 days a month,'" Marshall said. "I said, 'You've piqued my interest.'" So Marshall got a job with Game Creek Video, one of the leaders in mobile television. In 2005, he was assigned to
It began with one dinky grill and some brats, but the staff lunch soon expanded so much it needed a name. "How about the Roadkill Grill?" Marshall said. "You kill it. We grill it." Now, Marshall dons his apron and hot dog hat, and the guy who once hauled gear for AC/DC mans the grill. In Endres, Marshall found a kindred spirit. As a student, Endres had helped run the kitchen that fed hundreds at a camp. He had studied hospitality management at Central Michigan before realizing his future lay in television. When he isn't making jambalaya in Baton Rouge, pan-frying alligator tails in Gainesville or cooking three different types of salmon in Eugene, Endres helps manage
Even the suits have pitched in. When executives at title sponsor Home Depot realized the Roadkill Grill could occasionally get significant on-camera time, they offered grills from the store's stock. Last week, Marshall proudly showed off a Weber that easily handled the beer-can chickens and the tenderloin with room to spare. And at each stop, the grillmasters accumulate more gear to make even more elaborate meals. Last week, they needed rice to serve under gumbo and etoufee. "Did you get a rice cooker?" one staffer asked Endres. "We got two rice cookers," Endres replied with a wicked grin.
After the Roadkill Grill on Friday, the crew will prepare to stage a little live television for millions of viewers. Once the show wraps Saturday at noon, they'll break down the set, pack it up and wait. Sometime late Saturday or early Sunday, they'll learn their next destination. They may have to cross a few states, or they may have to cross the continent. Though ESPN officials won't choose the site until after Saturday's games, the crew is rooting hard for a trip to the Stanford-Oregon game in Eugene. They would make the 1,000-mile haul up Interstate 5, stopping at one of their favorite spots, Heaven on Earth in Azalea, Ore., along the way. During the drive, Marshall and Endres will plan the next great tailgate feast.
So as you watch
"I was trying to show her what a good swinger I was."
(And since I'm not a complete jerk, I'll provide the context. Richt believes an injury suffered in the '90s while attempting some acrobatics on a swing set during a Richt family picnic has festered for years and became aggravated when Richt started doing P90X. He's been coaching in pain this season, and he'll have the surgery after it ends.)
If you're a regular reader, you know I'm slightly obsessed with names. Back in August 2009,
Now, the union of Ryder and the Naval Academy has been immortalized in
UCLA coach Jim Mora got pretty hot this week when someone with far too much time on his hands posed on Twitter as UCLA cornerback Randall Goforth on Monday and trolled USC players to stir up a rivalry that could get quite interesting next week if the teams face off for the Pac-12 South title. Mora backed off his stronger comments Wednesday, but he has a legitimate point. College athletes are especially vulnerable to fake Twitter and Facebook accounts, and if someone wanted to ruin a player's reputation badly enough, they could. I can only pray that the people who run the Randy Staples Twitter account do so in a semi-responsible fashion.
I had hoped to create a top-five list of college football-related Twitter parody accounts to show that not all Twitter fakes are evil, but then I realized the list begins and ends with the
4. Sometimes he's not funny. Sometimes he's just correct.
3. FDB will never forgive Texas A&M for leaving the Big 12 -- or for existing in the first place.
2. Like his real-life inspiration, who is now a consultant, FDB often gives conference commissioners helpful advice on effective commissioneering.
1. FDB was not thrilled when the RDB got forced out by the Big 12 last year.
Marshall's description of the big-as-your head cinnamon rolls at