Ash Tales: From the nosebleeds of Starkville
It’s taken me a few days to get to the point where I can rationally discuss my trip to Starkville last weekend. JP, Abe, and I braved the elements and the early morning kickoff to support our team on their first SEC road venture, but despite the teams efforts we came away losers. My hope is that this column will be a weekly thing but we’ll see how interesting the article will be when I’m sitting around in my living room watching the game instead of traveling.
Despite my loyalty to the Auburn Tigers I’ve never been much of a traveling ‘regular season’ fan. I’ve seen countless games in Auburn but other than a trek over to Athens and Tuscaloosa while I was covering the games for my ‘job’ at WEGL FM during college I haven’t seen many of our opponents’ home turfs. JP and Abe on the other hand are old hats at traveling to away games and assured me that Starkville was an easily accomplished over and back so I bought in and away we went.
Few things are as loathsome as a 5:30 alarm clock on Saturday, but I managed to stumble my way out of bed and downing a tall boy of Red Bull as I climbed into my truck I headed out to meet JP and Abe at our predetermined spot. My truck is more of a gallons per mile and not mpg so we piled into the JP’s ‘Tiger Tail-less Car’™ and hit the road.
Heading west till we smelled it, and then going south till we stepped in it, we found ourselves in Tuscaloosa. Surprisingly there wasn’t much gameday activity going on at 6:30am and we held our noses and zipped through as fast as we could. The drive went quick and after a quick breakfast stop we found ourselves in Starkville.
Now JP assures me that Starkville used to be an ugly truckstop of a town with little to no visual appeal. I think his exact description was that it looked like ‘the generic NCAA Football 2010 stadium’ but even he admitted that whatever beautification they’d undergone recently was impressive.
The first thing I noticed about Starkville from the entrance in which we came was that there weren’t cars everywhere. Their stadium seats just under 56k and it looked to be mostly full come kickoff, but their campus wasn’t overrun with cars. Auburn during a game day is an awful time to get a feel for the ‘beauty’ of the campus, as it’s so overrun with cars parked everywhere, but this was actually really scenic even with all the tailgating we saw.
This leads me to the second point, covered tailgating. I don’t know much about their tailgating setup and who gets to set up where, but there was covered tailgating everywhere and they were all stacked side by side for as far as you can see. Auburn has some organized covered tailgating but they weren’t stacked as close as the MSU crowd.
In regards to the MSU crowd, they were much more polite than I had braced myself for. I expected cowbells in the face and especially on the walk of shame after the game but they were, other than 1 or 2 people, really polite and hospitable. The fans behind us in the stands weren’t overly obnoxious and for the most part followed their cowbell etiquette. We learned some about their tradition and hand painting their cowbells, and for the most part got in and out of there without any huge issues.
Their stadium isn’t huge, but we stopped and looked at a presentation of what they plan do do with the expansion and enclosing one of their end zones and it’s very nice. The seats even in the nosebleeds were very good and you felt pretty close to the action. Their main scoreboard sound needs an upgrade as it was pretty distorted at time. Their concession stands were organized and moved quickly and it was pretty easy to get in/out and they had Dreamland BBQ nachos, which is always a plus.
I would recommend a Starkville trip to any fan base considering it. I imagine if it wasn’t an 11:00am game their fans would have had more time to get ramped up so maybe this was a situational trip that isn’t representative of the real experience. But given the amount of mistreatment I’ve seen at times from fans in Auburn this was a really enjoyable trip minus the final outcome.
If you’ve been to Starkville before or have some stories of your own about Mississippi State we’d love to hear them. Drop a comment or check out our Facebook page and leave your story over there. Also if you haven’t seen this week’s predictions be sure to go and check them out HERE. If you wonder what Auburn’s loss in Starkville means for their season check out my revised outlook HERE. See you next week with my tale.