New guidelines for LSU games curb tailgating traditions
BATON ROUGE - On any given Saturday in the fall, you can expect Zach Rau and hundreds of his friends, plus a few strangers, filling LSU's campus ahead of a home game.
"You have your normal family and then you have your football family," Rau said. "Unfortunately, your football family is confined to football and without football, as normal, you just don't really get it."
Wednesday's announcement from the university detailing gameday protocols, including a ban on tailgating, didn't come as a surprise for Rau and his other friends that make up 'DVA Tailgating.'
"You know I'm going to miss it," Rau said. "I think a lot of people will. Unfortunately, it had to come to this."
During a normal football season, Rau would already be in full tailgate mode, which includes planning a menu, featuring 80 pounds of pulled pork, mac and cheese, grits, dirty rice, beans, and sausage.
"If this were a normal football season, I would probably be pulling my hair out preparing for the Texas game."
His preparations begin six days before kickoff and culminate with a 4 a.m. wakeup call on gameday. With planning out of the way this season, he's finding ways to spend his newfound free time -- including cooking projects and soon enough a lot more college football.
"I'm going to watch a lot of the football I don't get to watch during the season," Rau said. "Obviously being here on Saturday, we have a TV, we can watch games, but it's harder to watch everything."
When LSU hosts Mississippi State Sept. 26 in the season opener, jambalaya pots will be put away, ice chests won't be packed and tents won't dot the oak-lined campus. Rau though, says there's something he'll miss more than those things.
"The people," Rau said. "There's a certain amount of conviviality that college football brings out in people. Even though you might be opposing fans, you still have that common language, that common love of a sport, that while it has gotten as big as it is, it's a very niche thing and it brings people together."