Got a healthy amount of mail about my travel to the south, so a special mailbag edition. Also you might want to check out MATW's experience at Tennessee.
Your visit to Auburn was an enjoyable read. I'm a lifelong Michigan fan who grew up going to games in Ann Arbor. However, I've lived in Atlanta for the last 10 years, and went to grad school at UGA. I have to agree with you that the Auburn fans are very nice (Incidentally, the Alabama fans are putrid). My question is this: What did you think of the tailgating in S.E.C. country? In my mind, this is what separates the SEC from everything I ever experienced in Big Ten country. It's a totally different culture. At Georgia, all the girls wear red and black sun dresses, and all the guys come wearing shirts and ties. And at the tailgate, fans of both teams tend to mingle throughout the day.
There's also something to be said about tailgating in November when it's not so cold you want to stay in your car the entire game.
The main difference between tailgating at Auburn and tailgating at Michigan is that the tailgate at Auburn mostly took place in nicer environs. Michigan Stadium is farther away from campus and the area surrounding it is densely packed with buildings. The green stuff is all on campus. Jordan-Hare is much closer to campus and is in a much less densely populated city (Ann Arbor is more than four times as dense as Auburn) so there's way more space to pack 20,000 fewer people. Result: we wandered around campus and saw a ton of people enjoying the extensive green spaces that comprise the Auburn campus. At Michigan, if you're not on the golf course you're probably tailgating over asphalt.
As far as the culture of tailgating goes, I didn't see that much out of the ordinary. There was one crawfish boil and they seem to have their TV business together better—all those late starts make it more worthwhile—but it was mostly the usual. I hear from more experienced travelers that Auburn's tailgate scene is not amongst the SEC's more mindblowing.
Some other mail from folks; these aren't really questions but are further insights into the culture down there:
Brian- Enjoyed your recap of your trip to Auburn and the differences between M football and an SEC experience. Have been to the Jordan-Hare twice and enjoyed the experience both times. Wanted to share something with you regarding the "hype" guy that I witnessed first hand on the sidelines when UB played Auburn and got thumped in '06.
I found it entertaining that he was wearing a QB play book wrist band that included all of his chants he would refer to depending on the game situation. Especially funny when the chants for the most part consist of something lame like "Come on Auburn - get that ball. Get that ball - get that ball".
Found the experience of the student section to be quite different from Michigan's. First of all the gameday attire is completely different. Every dude has a shag hair cut, khakis, white shirt and a blue and orange striped tie. Meanwhile all of the girls are tan and wearing summer dresses. Also, the entire section reeks of Southern Comfort. Keep up the good work and Go Blue!
I did notice the sundresses. They were mostly shapeless items that made the wearer look a little like they were wearing a burlap sack with a couple spectacular exceptions.
Much like you I spent a weekend in Auburn last year for the USF/Auburn game. I am a graduate of USF and am enjoying their current rise in the polls albeit a shaky one after that FIU game. Born in Detroit, lifelong Wolverine fan, etc. I enjoyed the game at Auburn last year and my wife and I had seats right next to where that eagle gets released. The fans weren’t too bad (especially cause they thought they would give USF a proper beating and be done with them) save the one dude who chucked a table over his balcony after the game in drunken disgust.
But, having gone to quite a few Michigan games in the past I felt that Michigan’s crowd had a different feel. The Auburn faithful always seem to be waiting for the bottom to drop out whereas Michigan fans during the Lloyd era had grown complacent with the boring offense and expected superior talent to rule alone. If I had he chance to do it again I’d scoop it up in an instant. It was a classy town with some good football and good fans. Despite the High and Mightyness of the SEC, Auburn did football right. (Now UF games, on the other hand, are full of toothless heathens and half-tards). Hope you enjoyed the trip.
A loyal reader.
I did notice the crowd aura was different, and I think that was a major reason I had my weird moment of cognitive dissonance when I, the damn Yankee, was the lone stander in my section. Auburn fans seemed like they were waiting for LSU to do it again, and didn't want to get their hopes up.
In that vein:
Just to clarify…the upper deck experience vs. the lower deck experience is two different animals. I used to have season tickets in the upper deck and I would rather sit in the endzone of the lower deck and be “part of the game” vs. having better view in the upper deck with less experience. You can’t even hear the bands or interact with the cheers in the upper deck. You also typically have an older crowd in the upper deck. Anyway, it was still a great game and a great atmosphere (I got tickets in the east upper deck for the game). You also missed out on LSU’s band, which has the best songs/cheers in college football, IMO.
So, right: my experience might have been muted by distance and all that.
Glad you had a fun time at the Auburn game. I'm born and raised in Chicago, and a huge, huge Michigan football fan. I get to as many games as I can every year, and average, I don't know, maybe 6-7 games a season between home and away games (not a season ticket holder). I recently got engaged to a southern born and raised, SEC girl named Cara. She attended Auburn. Her dad and step-mom, and her aunts and uncles all are season ticket holders. I was fortunate to see two Tigers' games last year; @ Arkansas and home against Alabama (Iron Bowl, ridiculously fun time). I came away with pretty much the same opinions as you. The one that sticks out the most though, is Michigan's need for a gigantic HD video board. I was blown away by that thing. Holy crap it's awesome.
Well, that's about it..... oh, get down to Auburn or Alabama one year for the Iron Bowl. YOU WON'T REGRET IT!!!!
I don't think that can be repeated enough: we need a freakin' enormous HD video board. Michigan's problem when it comes to acquiring one will be the no advertising policy. As mentioned, at Auburn the scoreboard had a sizeable number of ads—though it wasn't as bad as Ohio State's—and would occasionally dupe you into watching something about protecting this house. Texas's Godzillatron is also heavily subsidized by advertising. Michigan would have to swallow the entire cost itself.