By MICHAEL-SHAWN DUGAR | COMMENTARYTailgating in Pullman isn’t just a gathering before a football game, it’s an experience.
It’s a combination of thousands of rather energetic, often rowdy Washington State University students and alumni who travel anywhere from 75 to 300 miles (or farther!) to watch Cougar football at what is now the new and improved Martin Stadium. The 2014 home opener Saturday brings the Portland State Vikings to town, so ’tis the season for barbecue and brews.
Tailgating means different things to various groups of fans, but whether you gather around a recreational vehicle in the parking lot across from Beasley Coliseum or any of the other seven lots spread across campus, there are a few general rules of thumb when preparing for a WSU football game.
Let’s start with …
1. The proper attire: Obviously, Cougar gear of any variety is preferred but the key here is being age appropriate with your choice of attire. Leave the body paint, costumes and “Huck the Fuskies” tank tops to the people actually enrolled in classes. If you have to pay a mortgage and keep track of your next colonoscopy, then T-shirts with images of Butch T. Cougar putting Harry the Husky in the headlock just aren’t for you. Sorry.
Remember, this is the age of social media when everyone, everywhere has a camera, so if you look ridiculous, be prepared to be trending on Twitter.
With that said, feel free to get creative with your Cougar gear. Ladies, go ahead and turn that WSU scarf or bandana into a shirt, and guys, well — don’t do that. Fellas, this is the perfect opportunity to pull out that old school Cougar jersey with No. 11 on the back, the one you’ve been dying to wear to Casual Fridays at work but just haven’t had the guts to sport.
Be sure to keep it strictly Cougs, though. Pullman is home to a plethora of Seahawks fans, but no one wants to see your new Russell Wilson jersey. Wear it on Sunday like a normal American.
And under no circumstances should you ever think about, consider or contemplate wearing Husky gear (or anything purple, for that matter). This is for your own safety — anyone who has attended a Coug tailgate knows WSU fans of all ages are rowdy, even more so when they see purple. And besides, purple is a gaudy color.
So now that you’re dressed appropriately, it’s time for the fun stuff …
2. The food: Personally, I’m a huge fan of burgers, bratwursts and any dish that includes bacon. Having one is good, having all three is better. Those, along with traditional finger foods — nachos, sandwiches — are perfect for any tailgate. You also can’t go wrong with chili, chicken wings or another personal favorite of mine, chicken quesadillas.
Get creative. If you have a special salsa or custom cheese dip, then a tailgate is the perfect time to bring it out. Adding Cougar flavor to a dish can happen in any form, even if it’s something as simple as using barbecue sauce to write WSU on all the burger patties. The more Cougar-inspired dishes, the better. Just don’t show up with apple turnovers named after Connor Halliday, because that’s just mean.
But no tailgate in Pullman is complete without a trip to Ferdinand’s Ice Cream Shoppe, home of the award-winning Cougar Gold Cheese. If you want your ice cream or your gourmet cheese, you’re going to have to get there early because the line will more than likely be out the door, though it should be well worth the wait.
Once you’re all full of nachos and chicken skewers it’s time to move onto what is perhaps everyone’s favorite part of tailgating, at least at WSU. That, of course, is …
3. The alcohol: No, this doesn’t mean body shots and it certainly doesn’t mean keg stands or beer bongs. Again, those are for people not searching for a quality life insurance plan or still trying to figure out how to operate their smartphone.
If you fall under the latter, then grab a Blue Moon, Guinness, Coors or a Bud Light and drink like an adult. Laugh, reminisce, share stories, maybe even toast to the fact you’re gathered to watch a team led by a man with an unusual pirate obsession, which has somehow become a good thing.
This is also typically the time when all the networking happens, the mini-football pickup games break out and all of the selfies are taken. All of these are normally good aspects of tailgating, but they turn into great things once you add a beer or two to go with it.
But while you’re enjoying yourself, be careful to avoid being “that guy.”
For example: There’s the guy still looking to display how fast he can chug a Bud Light. Don’t be that guy. Then there’s the guy who has had too many drinks and stumbles into the stadium and has a fuzzy recollection of the entire first half. Don’t be that guy. And there’s the “friendly” guy quietly mooching beer from several different tailgates. You definitely don’t want to be this guy, primarily because in Pullman a simple “Go Cougs” will get you a free brew from nearly everyone in town — especially on Cougar Football Saturday.
Dugar is a reporter for 360. He may be contacted at (208) 883-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @Mikedelaphante