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See you soon, tailgate family

NCAA Football: Auburn at Georgia Athens Banner-Herald-USA TODAY NETWORK

For some of us, the last time we saw one another was a rainy afternoon against Texas A&M.

We didn’t know it at the time, but that sloppy win would be the last full-scale home game in The Classic City thanks to everything that 2020 would bring with it.

It’s for that reason that the Sept. 11 game against UAB will be one of the most anticpated home games in Athens against a smaller non-conference opponent than in quite some time, possibly ever.

That’s because if you have a tailgate family. odds are good that you have not seen one another since November of 2019, in-person, anyway.

After the past year, just being able to go full-on tailgate may be one of the most exciting things I am looking forward to. It encapsulates one thing that makes SEC football so great- how strangers become extended members of your own family.

That’s certainly the case for me.

In college, through a mutual friend, we became linked up with a group of alumni from previous years at Georgia. Obviously, with us being income-challenged college students, we were along for the ride in terms of planning, splitting the cost of tailgate supplies, etc.

Over time, of course, we gladly chip in for food and other gameday items.

But it’s gone beyond that. The group meant so much that the future Mrs. Lugnut met are group of tailgaters...and that they didn’t scare her away from ever coming to another Georgia game. It’s for that reason that when we got married a few years later, we avoided the cardinal sin of a football season wedding..partially so some of those we tailgate with could join us.

Our group comes from different parts of the Bulldog Nation, from north, south and middle Georgia with others as far away as West Virginia. Some of us are one or two games per year, others may make one game every few years while others are every home and away game..all the way down to an RV as ‘Road Dawgs.” Some of us find tickets off the secondary market. Others are long-time Hartman donors. Some of us ensure we’re there for kickoffs while others know full well that a young Bulldog at the tailgate means maybe one half within Sanford Stadium.

Our group of tailgaters is, I’m sure, like many of yours. It’s a family that’s been forged through wins, and losses and all that it means to be a Georgia Bulldog.

I often wonder - what it is to be looked forward to the most this fall.

Sure, the prospect of a special season, being in a hopefully full stadium and the specal feeling of coming into Athens rate high.

But for me, gathering again with our tailgate family is what I can’t wait to do.

Go Dawgs!