Tailgating at most places is considered a pleasant and leisurely event.

Usually, it’s done in a parking lot, features a cooler or two, maybe a small grill, and, depending where you are, some sort of local cuisine. For example, burning a bratwurst is considered all but a sacred right in most parts of Wisconsin, just like Cajun food is the main staple in Louisiana. Try something different, like a kabob, and they’ll acknowledge your contribution and original thinking, but might look at you a little funny the moment you turn your back.

“Tourist.”

At Alabama, tailgating is taken seriously. Very seriously. Anyone without a generator is either an amateur or a student, and one frequently comes across people who have been cooking since the night before, if not longer.

Grills and smokers that look like they could power small cities can be found around town, parked in strategic locations, and smelled from far away. Ribs are generally considered the primary delicacy year-round in Tuscaloosa, but on game days you’ll also find a number of other of delicious, and un-healthy, staples like brisket, pork shoulder, and, well, just amount any kind of pork and beef imaginable – frequently together. 

For a change of pace, they might cook some chicken. Brave souls may also take a stab at fish and vegetables, but usually very quietly. 

The various pre-made side dishes include everything from macaroni and cheese  to cookies, and only rarely purchased store-made.

Some consider it heaven on earth, especially if they get the BBQ sauce just right, and some recipes are held on to more intensely than some family secrets (and only second to game tickets).

That’s kind of fitting because place to be a couple of hours before kickoff is the campus area known as “The Quad,” the green in the heart of the campus, which on Saturdays takes on the aura of a giant family reunion.

The bigger the game (and the better the season), the more family members who show up.

What the Quad looks like on a typical Alabama game day

Fans clamor for prime spots long before the teams show up to the stadium. They throw footballs and Frisbees in open spots, and walk around as if to inspect the grounds. Satellite dishes and televisions nicer than what many people have in their homes are only outnumbered by lawn chairs and eating utensils, and cheers heard from all around whenever a Southeastern Conference rival gives up a touchdown, especially Auburn.

Kids can enjoy various carnival-type attractions, the marching band warms up and plays a few songs, a variety of radio shows broadcast pre-game shows, and the university’s Supply Store is on-hand to meet any specific need (like replace a forgotten No. 12 jersey or a misplaced shaker). There might even be a famous former player signing autographs along with the author of book about Alabama football.

However, there are other more subtle indicators to how seriously Alabama fans take their tailgating by some of the items they make sure to have on-hand. They include rain gear, fans, rain gear, toilet paper, pillows, extra cups, toothpicks, beanbag chairs, blankets, sun block, extra ice, a first-aid kit, ice chests, and extension cords (and jumper cables in the car, just in case).

Just don’t ask what’s the in sauce, how anyone sneaks anything into the stadium, or wear orange.

Some of this post originated from "100 Things Crimson tide Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die," published by Triumph Books