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The Tailgate Chronicles: Alabama at Texas A&M

Jay Arnold talks about going home to College Station to experience the tailgate ahead of SEC action between Alabama and Texas A&M.

In truth, I’ve been putting off writing about my alma mater’s tailgate scene because I know my lack of objectivity will be easy to pick out. I graduated from Texas A&M in 2017 after playing football there. My fiance also happens to be an Aggie. I bleed maroon. I love College Station with all my heart and always will. Aggieland remains an incredibly special place in my heart. However, after another incredible weekend in CStat – this time to watch my Aggies take on Alabama, I felt I like I couldn’t put it off anymore. And so, with an incredible amount of Aggie bias I present another edition of the Tailgate Chronicles.

The Adventure Begins

Though I spent the formative years of my life in the DFW Metroplex, I now live in Houston. Of the many positives of the Bayou City, perhaps none appeals to me more than the relative proximity to College Station. And so it was that my tailgate battalion set off northwest on 290 and then 6 to reach Aggieland before sunrise.

With coolers stocked full of beer, food, and various other beverages we arrived at Aggie Park at 6:45 a.m. to begin our pre-game festivities. Though, officially, set up time doesn’t begin till 7:00, the crowd of Texas A&M faithful was chomping at the bit to unpack tents.

For those unaware, Aggie Park used to be known as Spence Park. With tailgating specifically in mind, renovations turned a formerly decent environment into a fantastic place to get ready for Aggie Football. Though I maintained a healthy dose of skepticism when the project came to light, I happily report that the new tailgate spot comes across as a resounding success.

Within a half-hour of the tailgate plots officially being opened, Aggie Park reached near capacity. We set up our tent, got our music going, and let the party commence.

The Tailgate

Though I normally write this blog from the perspective of someone visiting unfamiliar ground, I found myself as a host on this occasion. From all the way around the world in Australia, our new buddy Josh decided he and his fiance wanted to take in college football. This resulted in perhaps the most authentic shoey possible as he joined me in my game day tradition. Of course, seeing as how that tradition comes from Australia, involving him felt like a no-brainer.

In addition to the shoey above, our tailgate featured a handful of the classics that overwhelmed me with a bit of collegiate nostalgia. Slap the bag? Check. Thunderstruck? Check. Cornhole isn’t necessarily limited to college but we had that too.

For cuisine, our head tailgate chef Nick prepared meat ahead of time and made some of the best quesadillas you’ll ever see. The carnitas reheated worked incredibly as a filling. I’m genuinely hoping Nick doesn’t read this so it doesn’t go to his head but I think because of him, quesadillas have rapidly climbed my tailgate food rankings.

Over the course of the tailgate, we also got exposed to one of the coolest things I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. The South Texas Aggie Tailgate located just across the way from us hosted Aggie Mariachi. Seeing a short performance from that group in the midst of a wonderful tailgate scene? Simply magical.

Finally, after a solid six and a half hours of tailgating, our short walk over to Kyle Field began.

The Game

Kyle Field represents the second stadium in a row for this series that needs no introduction. Known as the Home of the 12th Man for good reason, the Texas A&M crowd made an impact from the first snap. Loud and electric, I could not have picked a better first game for our two guests from Australia to experience.

With 108,101 fans in attendance, false starts for Alabama were a given. Unfortunately, Texas A&M couldn’t find the plays they needed to secure a win. I can only imagine the scenes if the Aggies managed to pull off the upset. However, having just experienced the White Out a few weeks prior and having experienced Neyland Stadium just before writing this, I can confidently say Kyle Field deserves every bit of it’s reputation.

I recognize my bias. I know maroon-tinted glasses adorn my face while I write this.

This version of the Tailgate Chronicles may be my personal favorite. Spreading the gospel of Aggieland never gets old. Yes, we’re weird. Our cult behavior likely frightens some folks off. However, if you glean once piece of knowledge from The Tailgate Chronicles I hope it’s this: If you come to Aggieland for a massive gameday, you will leave having had an incredible time.

That’s a Jay Arnold guarantee.

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