Hours before a Sooner or Cowboy makes a tackle this weekend, fans clad in like colors will engage in unfettered expression of team spirit under tents and behind grills within shouting distance of the stadium where their teams will toil, building a crescendo of moral support for the game at hand and solidifying a unity of purpose decades old.
This significant contribution to the color of pageantry of college football is tailgating.
Folks like Mandy Grove will gather with family and friends south of Campus Corner in Norman as her family has for more than 50 years. Mandy and friends will come up with a food theme, and the food they share will adhere to it.
“My parents have been doing this for more than 50 years; my husband and I took it over about 10 years ago,” she said in a past interview.
Up in Stillwater, there will be no tailgating as the Cowboys open the season in Arlington, Texas. But when the Pokes return, you can bet Bart Towne and his merry band of Kingfisherites will be somewhere south of Boone Pickens Stadium, using the smoker he made himself and perhaps the mobile Hasty Bake he won at an Oklahoman tailgating competition back in 2010.
“We’ll serve, probably, about a 100 people,” he said back then.
Any good tailgater will tell you a successful tailgate relies on the same thing coaches Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy rely on: a good game plan.
Both the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University provide guidelines for prospective tailgaters to ensure a good time is had by all — even the visitors.
In Norman tents, awnings for tailgates can be set up at noon on the day immediately preceding the game and removed by noon the following day.
In Stillwater, set up can be done after 5 p.m. Thursday for each Saturday game. For this year’s Thursday game on Sept. 25, setup begins after 5 p.m. Sept. 24.
As in Norman, equipment must be removed by noon on the day following the game.
In Norman, tents, awnings and similar equipment must be anchored securely. Stakes must not be longer than 12 inches in order to not interfere with underground utilities.
In Stillwater, tailgaters are strongly encouraged to use sandbags, water jugs or concreted buckets to ballast tents.
Larger tents face a new directive from OSU’s Excavation Permit Procedure by the Oklahoma Underground Facilities Damage Prevention Act.
Larger commercial-type tents that can’t be properly ballasted are discouraged. If larger tents must be staked and ballasts are not an option, an OKIE Locate request must be made no more than 10 days in advance and not less than 48 hours before the date of the event by calling 811 or visiting www.callokie.com/Locate-Request.
The OKIE excavation permit must be posted visibly during the length of time the tent is in place.
Failure to comply will result in the tent being taken down at a cost to the tailgater and jeopardizing any future tailgating opportunities.
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If you’re interested in more details, each school offers detailed tailgating information online at okstate.com/facilities/boone-pickens-tailgate.html and soonersports.com.