It's never easy to cheer for the Arizona St. Sun Devils, a team that defines the word "mediocrity." Despite playing well against quality competition, ASU is 4-6 on the season, and a miserable 2-5 in Pac-10 play.
In fact, Sun Devil fans are so pessimistic that there was a distinct air of negativity in the fourth quarter of the Stanford game last night. Right after ASU took the lead. Once Thomas Weber missed the extra point, allowing the Cardinal to stay within 3 points, everyone in the stadium knew that the game was over and Andrew Luck would lead his team to victory.
And that's exactly what happened.
Truth be told, it's not all bad in the land of the Sun Devils. The pregame festivities are still strong, and legions of fans adorned in maroon and gold took to the parking lots and grass fields surrounding Sun Devil Stadium at 12:30 Saturday afternoon to grab the best spots and set up shop.
Despite the presence of alcohol, this is still a family event. Across the landscape, grills covered with meats and vegetables wafted delicious scents in the air, and cute kids donning Sun Devils gear were all over. I saw a cute infant wearing an ASU cheerleading outfit and pigtails while watching her parents play bag toss.
Incredible advances in technology over the years has allowed for tailgates to resemble your living room. HD satellite dishes and 32" televisions are now commonplace, allowing fans to pay close attention to games of national importance while still supporting their alma mater in person.
While walking around, I looked long and hard for Stanford fans, but they were few and far between. The school and its alumni need to support their team with veracity and pride, or else they will soon lose their coach and any chance at consistent success.
One of ASU's trademarks, the Tempe 12, sends a bus to the grass lot just north of the fraternities. They blast music and draw in lots of college-aged gentlemen who want to gawk at the girls dancing on top of the bus. There are pickle eating contests and drinking is highly encouraged.
But what is it that really sells tailgating at Arizona State University? Really, it's the weather. November 13th is usually a cold, dreary day in most of the continental United States, but in Tempe it is mid-70s and sunny. There is little wind, and no danger of inclement weather.
Should the Sun Devils actually be competitive in the near future, the tailgating scene will be top notch. Early in the season, it's much too hot to expect the fans to spend the whole day outside, waiting to sit in a scorching outdoor stadium. November contests are the ideal time for ASU fans to set aside a whole day for food, fun, and friends. Once the team shows up in November as well, then the true potential of the tailgate will be unleashed.