September 2018

Football Served Southern Style:Watch your team and party with the locals

Author: Louise Lund

For many Southerners, college football is not a game but a religion. You’ve likely heard that quote from Julia Sugarbaker, (Dixie Carter, Designing Women). Some fans say there are four seasons: winter, spring summer, and football. With that old September feeling of summer over, vacations done, back to school, and a slight chill in the air, football season is finally here!

Whether it feels like a religion, family, or some other intense form of togetherness, football has built a community in the South. It is entrenched in the culture—stereotypical, but true. Why has the South dominated college football for so long?

“Southern football teams play each other harder every year than any other conference anywhere in the nation. That’s just the way it always has been,” according to Mike Page, author of A Student in the History of the American South. “Southern football players dominate the sport like Latin American players dominate baseball,” he continued. “It’s our ‘thang,’ and Saturdays in the fall are meant to be spent with a tall, ice-cold Co-cola, a chili dog, and your feet propped up while you’re watching the game.”

Many people are passionate about watching football, while others are less enthused. But one thing is certain: Whether you are watching a game or just sitting among the crowd in a sports bar or at a tailgate, you’re in for a good time. And there’s nothing like watching a game with fellow fans! The food and drinks are a big part of the attraction, as well as the chance to cheer when your team scores a touchdown.

Watch on TV with fellow fans
The televising of football these days is extraordinary. You’re right there in the game, and the sound is incredible.

Looking for a watering hole to congregate with your fellow fans? Many restaurants and sports bars on Hilton Head Island attract specific college fans for sports viewing. Whether you follow Clemson, Carolina, Ohio State, Michigan State, or other popular college teams, you’ll find a number of perfect places to enjoy games on large, flat screen TVs, with plenty of cold beer or other drinks and tasty food.

These places also attract fans of professional football teams. Obviously, most any local sports bar will be happy to accommodate fans on game day, while offering a variety of food and drink specials.
“Clemson fans gather at Club Seats, to watch the away Clemson games,” said Charlie Schroeder, president of the local Clemson Club. With an open-air patio, delicious food, and awesome atmosphere, it’s a great place to watch any game.

For Gamecock fans, Wild Wing Café is one location to gather with others during the USC games, according to manager Austin Long. “You might find a number of Ohio State fans here as well. There are TVs throughout, so you are assured of a great seat to watch any game.”

Reilley’s North has been serving up Irish Pub fare, including steaks, seafood, pasta and sandwiches on Hilton Head Island for nearly 30 years. It’s a popular place to watch football, regardless of which team you’re rooting for.

Reilley’s South has been a favorite place for both locals and visitors to watch games and dine for 34 years. Several unnamed regulars at the bar said they frequently come to Reilley’s to watch the games with friends and other fans. The bartenders are friendly, the televisions are top notch, and the food is fantastic!

“Mangiamo’s is a favored spot to watch Ohio State games,” said Ohio State fan Jeff Stubbs. “Bring your Buckeye beads!” Street Meet is another place Ohio State fans frequent.

New York City Pizza, mid-island at Shelter Cove Towne Centre, is a hotspot for watching all games, with 17 TVs inside and four at the outside bar, according to Victoria Cregg, assistant manager.

With more than 15 large screen TVs, indoor and out, and a variety of drinks and food, Giuseppi’s Pizza and Pasta is a choice place to watch any sport. Another is Casey’s Sports Bar and Grill, with TVs situated throughout the bar.

“We are packed with Georgia fans when the Georgia Bulldogs are playing,” Mellow Mushroom owner John Boyce said. “We have people coming in to watch Georgia Southern and Michigan State games as well. There are TVs everywhere, and we have 44 drafts on tap.”

Tailgate at the game
For football fans attending games, tailgating is a popular way to party before and after, usually on the grounds around the stadium. These parties are sometimes set up three hours before the game, and up to six hours if it’s a night game. Tailgating typically involves a picnic of food and drinks; some of the set-ups are quite elaborate, while others are out of the back of a pickup truck. Popular foods, cooked onsite or brought to tailgates, are hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, ribs, potato salad, deviled eggs, coleslaw, and pimento cheese sandwiches.

“My favorite part of a football game is tailgating,” said Clemson graduate and fan Mark Lund. There is tailgating all over the town of Clemson on game day. From the cold beer to the food and the partying, tailgating is the best way to enjoy the whole experience of game day.

“Football games are celebrated differently in the North and the South. The South takes college football much more seriously. In the North, the stadium is almost empty long before the game ends. But in the South, in the fourth quarter, another rack of ribs goes on the smoker while someone goes to the nearest place to purchase more drinks, and planning for the next week’s game begins.”

There’s an old saying. “There are two times of year for me: football season and waiting for football season.” Nothing else in the world comes even halfway close to the glories of Southern football!

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