Tailgaters welcome everyone at SDSU

John Schmidt Web Editor

Just north of the Coughlin-Alumni Stadium, past the staging area for the new athletic facility lies the tailgating area for SDSU. This place is a home away from home for countless Jackrabbit fans. 

Families from around town and beyond park their SUVs or pickup trucks in designated lots, pull out grills and coolers and have some fun before a Jackrabbit game starts. 

The sun is high and the lot is hot as families, students, and alumni get together for a day of SDSU football.

In the distance of the entrance of the tailgating area is a blue and yellow picket fence. The sign above the fence reads “The Chain Gang”. 

“We’re the original tailgaters at SDSU,” said Ron Deutsch, a veteran Jackrabbit tailgater and graduate of San Jose State University. 

The term chain gang originates from the individuals who hold the down markers during the game, which have chains attached to them. 

Various businesses around town donate beverages and food for everyone tailgating. 

“We want you to come hungry and thirsty, and leave full,” Deutsch said.

Cubby’s and Dakota Beverage donate liquids to The Chain Gang, and every home opener for football they cook an entire 238 pound hog. 

It’s not entirely sponsored event; everyone who can brings something to offer to The Chain Gang.

“Everyone brings something,” Deutsch said “We have about 100 regular members.” 

The Chain Gang doesn’t just cater to SDSU tailgaters; they hold out their arms to the opposing team and invite them in for the festivities. 

Every year, the picket fence that surrounds The Chain Gang gets repainted blue and yellow, and next to that fence is a smaller tent. This is where SDSU alum and Hall of Fame football player Jim Langer sits with his family. 

“We always have to get a lot next to Deutsch,” Langer said.

Langer is a 1970 SDSU graduate and played football for the Cleveland Browns and the Miami Dolphins where his team won Super Bowls VII and VIII. 

Langer used to set up by the scoreboards and tailgate before SDSU had the tailgating lot.  “It’s a part of college football,” Langer said. 

Langer’s family tailgates with him as well, his sons and wife sit with him in their tent. 

“Lots should be open three days before the game and 24 hours after the game,” Langer said. 

Set up like a grid, the tailgating lot is home to several local Brookings businesses, fraternities, and families. 

An SUV has a satellite dish attached to it, with a flat screen TV in the back so the family can watch other football games while enjoying the atmosphere of Jackrabbit tailgating. 

Children run around and play football with one another; one child however was throwing a football at no one in particular. 

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity’s lot has the members standing in a circle, with a pile of crushed beer cans in the center. They take turns throwing darts at full beer cans standing out of the ground. If a dart hits the can they have to drink it.  The game is called beer darts.

“When I joined [SAE] they mentioned tailgating,” said Senior Andy Ott. 

The fraternity did not have a space last year in order to save money, however with the new house, the group chose to pick up a space in the lot this year.

The group of gentlemen are chatting, eating and drinking while playing beer darts. 

“We joined as a group and the idea of tailgating kind of followed,” Ott said. 

To go along with the organized lots, a lot of SDSU students just float from area to area seeing people they know. 

About three lots over from the SAE lot, a man gets out of a car, and his friend starts running at him full force and jumps into his arms. The two walk off to a lot and enjoy the day. 

Near The Chain Gang area, there is a giant tent with tables and chairs. This isn’t reserved for anyone in particular so it is the area where students gather. 

“Tailgating is just the best,” Jared Heisnger said. 

The group of friends Heisnger is with is extremely enthusiastic about tailgating. 

“If they had tailgating for basketball I’d do it,” said Dalton Mogck. 

 “It’s college building,” Heisnger said.

The group, now all in their second year of tailgating, collectively agrees and advocates that it is something everyone has to experience when they go to college. 

“I skipped a wedding once to go tailgating,” Mogck said.

Students, alum, and even people who have never been inside an SDSU classroom enjoy tailgating. 

Recent graduate Monica Goudy is entering her fourth year tailgating.

 “It’s not like any other school when it comes to tailgating,” Goudy said. 

The atmosphere, practically cooking in the hot August sun, is big and warm and welcoming of anyone. I was greeted by several individuals just passing by. Several different people offered me food and liquor. 

 “The people here are so fun, everyone is so warm. They welcome you with open arms,” Goudy said.