Rebel fans beat BYU at the party

By Ty Robbins

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Sept. 8 2011 4:00 p.m. MDT

The Grove: Many college football fans have heard of it. It's a place of legend.

If you ask around The Grove is either the first- or second-best place in the country to relax before taking in a football game.

With BYU’s complete lack of tailgating prowess, here is a run down a few traditions we learned from the fans of the University of Mississippi. A few fans that cheered on the Cougars on Sept. 3 told us a few things that made tailgating so great.

What is The Grove?

The Grove started becoming a tradition sometime in the 1950s. It's located in the center of the University of Mississippi. It's on about 10 acres of shade trees, and by Saturday morning it's packed full of tents.

People are allowed to surround The Grove on Friday night at 9 p.m., but fans can’t set up on their spot until the clock strikes 10 p.m., and then it gets a little wild.

However, many fans shared the fact that there’s an unwritten rule that seniority rules when it comes to spots, and the younger generation does its best to accommodate those fans spots who have been there for years.

One fan shared the fact that sometime Ole Miss fans rush The Grove when a group of fans can gather enough people with tents to overwhelm campus police and set up before 10 p.m. However, if they don’t get enough people to rush, campus police have been known to write a few tickets.

The atmosphere is probably not something one would expect.

The women are almost all in sun dresses and heels.

Not to be out done, the men dress the part as well. Many are in button down shirts, ties and slacks. As the weather gets cold, out come the sport coats.

It's taken fairly seriously, and though a few men had a pair of Khakis, almost all of them were wearing button-down shirts.

Speaking of dressing up, the tents boast a few of the finer things. It's not uncommon to see tents with 52-inch HDTV sets, satellite dishes and other comforts.

One BYU fan added his words to the posh tents:

“My visit to Oxford, Miss., was incredible. I have been to many college towns and campuses over the past 15 years or so following BYU football.

"You can ask yourself if you have ever been to a stadium where the opposing fans are requesting you to come under their tailgating tent, eat their food, and watch college football on their 55-inch HDTV? This happened in Oxford and more.

"My only regret from my trip to Ole Miss is that I didn't take my wife and kids. It would have been a great experience for them as well to learn what it means to be a fan and a fellow human being. The level of kindness, genuine interest in who we are, and hospitality, in my view, is unrivaled from anywhere else I've been to witness a college game, and, sadly, this includes BYU.”

The Walk of Champions is a tradition that goes down the middle of The Grove.

Before the game the Ole Miss team bus stops on the other side of The Grove and the football team and coaches to walk right down the middle of the party. Onlookers come right up to the players and wish them well as they make their way toward the stadium.

That same fan added this on the walk:

“The Walk of Champions was as cool as advertized. The tradition, the setting, and most of all the people were just incredible. If I wasn't going to another 'away' game this year, I'd be more than satisfied with my experience with the fans of Ole Miss. I learned quite a bit what it means to be a host and how to take a tough loss. If you get a chance to go to a game there, make it happen. You will be very happy you did.”

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