Tips, traditions and advice from an Oklahoma insider on the best way to tailgate at a Sooners game this college football season.
George Stoia, an Oklahoma rising senior and the sports editor for the OU Daily student newspaper, details the must-see sights and why you should try a Schooner.
What should visitors be sure to check out on game day? Check out Campus Corner and the bars and restaurants in the area. OU is unique in that there is a huge bar scene on game day. That’s where everybody is. There’s O’Connell’s, which we call “O’Conns” for short. It’s definitely a landmark. While you’re there try the Theta Burger and the Rocket (which is one of those huge things of beer, these are fun to share with friends). Diamond Dawgs is my personal favorite. While you’re there, try the Wonder Boy, which is a corn dog that is battered in Captain Crunch. Their famous drinks are their margaritas. There is a brand-new restaurant that former OU wide receiver Ryan Broyles opened on campus recently called The Porch. It has a rooftop that overlooks OU. A lot of people roam around Campus Corner on game day. There are tailgating tents around it, but just not in Campus Corner.
Any sites to see? If you get a chance, try and watch the Walk of Champions. They debuted this brand-new tradition in 2014. The Walk starts two hours before kickoff and players will get to the intersection of Lindsey and Jenkins before they begin the march. Before the team gets there, there is a pep-rally with cheerleaders and OU football alumni. It’s a good sight to see for kids. Another tradition that is unique is that the players stay in a hotel the night before a home game and go to a movie together. You’ll also run into some Greek tailgating near Asp Street and are welcomed if you’re a member of alumni.
Sooner Fan Fest is great for families. It’s on Jenkins Street in a parking lot. It’s like a big tailgate hosted by the university for kids. They have food vendors, games, music, and cheerleaders there, and you can be sure to find inflatables to scramble over. Sometimes Sooner athletes congregate there to sign autographs.
Legends Lobby is a must-go. There is an incredible display of murals, trophies, and even jerseys where you can get a feel for why OU football is so prized. You can also get tours of the museum.
Come to OU for the tradition, even just to walk around our campus. Walk down Heisman Park on Jenkins Street to see all the Heisman statues (five) as well as coach statues like Bob Stoops. You can feel the tradition in the atmosphere. They just built a new locker-room in the south end zone and visitors can view all the national championship trophies (complete access to the locker room is blocked off though). Alumni presence is huge at OU and prominent alumni tend to return to Norman on game days. You can spot them at the “O Club” which is for grads that played a sport at OU.
Where should I park? Lloyd Noble Center—where the baseball team plays—is a great place to park. A lot of people end up tailgating there because it’s a huge parking lot. That’s where all the fans with the massive RV’s park. There is a shuttle that takes you to the stadium from there. All of this is free. You could also walk, it’s probably only a half mile or mile from the stadium. There are also a lot of neighborhoods just in the area that sell spots on their own yard for $10 or $15.
What are rules and regulations? Tailgating at OU is a controversial topic right now. There are a lot of regulations. One of the reasons for this is OU is typically a dry campus, but it becomes a wet campus on game days.
There is definitely no alcohol in the stadium.
When it comes down to where you tailgate that becomes more of an issue. There are cool places to go, the bar scene is hot, but once you get closer to the stadium it becomes tricky to tailgate. The tailgating takes part pretty far from the stadium. What makes tailgating so great is being close to the atmosphere, so it makes it more difficult. You used to be able to tailgate on Lindsey Street, but as of 2016 this is prohibited. The college built new student housing facilities along Lindsey Street, and now they are trying to protect them. They said you can no longer tailgate there because its university living, and that took away a huge area for tailgating. This was implemented last year and people were pretty upset. South Oval is the main part of campus in which there could be a lot of open area to tailgate, but again they don’t allow it because it’s considered a part of campus.
When do people arrive? If there is an 11 a.m. kickoff, people start setting up as early as Friday morning, this is when people start staking out a spot for their tents. If it’s 11 a.m. I would say to get there around 8 a.m., if it’s a 2:30 p.m. game I would say 10 a.m.. If it’s a night game, people are out there all day. But, the “tenters” usually claim their spots on Friday.
What should I bring? Don’t forget beer. But also, bring a grill, maybe a tent considering you never know with Oklahoma weather, it can turn very quickly here. Other school’s grill their opposing team’s mascots, but we don’t do that stuff. We are just your normal average tailgate. It’s a lot of barbeque, a lot of ribs and definitely a lot of pulled pork.
A food I’ve found unique to Oklahoma that I have been eating since I can remember is the burger-dog. You take the hamburger and the hotdog and cut the hotdog the long way and then put it on top of the hamburger. It’s probably not exclusive to OU tailgates, but I’ve grown up with it. It’s famous in my family (I come from a family of OU alumni) and I usually stuff down three at a time. I know some of my friends have made this drink called the “Schooner” which is just Kool-Aid and vodka, which turns to crimson red when you mix it.
What do people wear? A lot of crimson and whites. You’ll see your typical polo shirts (depending on the weather). You would almost think it was an SEC school with all of the polo shirts. But, we aren’t as country as OSU; I would say they wear 90% blue jeans and boots and we are more 60% blue jeans and boots. But, boots are still big here, I think it’s a southern thing. I never wear boots because it gets real hot. Girls wear boots with some sort of jean skirt or dress.
When Baker Mayfield was here these guys, they called themselves the Sooner Men, always dressed up in those Chef/ Baker hats so they would wear those in addition to these capes with an S on the back. There were about 20-30 guys. They dressed head to toe in red and white, some of them would go on the field before the game and help hold the flag pole. They are glorified cheerleaders, and they have a big white board and write funny things on it, which usually gets on the big screen. I don’t know what they will do this year since Baker is gone, but maybe they will think of something else.
What is the atmosphere like? Every fall Saturday is like a big family reunion, especially if you’ve been around the program for as long as my family has, you run into so many people you know. Even my parents are seeing people they knew from college (my dad and cousin both played football for OU). It’s a friendly atmosphere. Since OU is very rich in tradition, many fans have been fans for their entire lives. Some fans don’t even go to the games, but just go to hangout, you become friends with them. It’s not a great tailgating scene, but it’s a fun tailgating atmosphere. Check out the student union, check out the library (it’s beautiful), and go to Heisman Park to see the statues. Check out the traditional trophies, and check out Campus Corner.