Friday, September 14, 2012
Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan talk Bulldogs
By Lynn Hoppes
Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan are huge University of Georgia fans and love tailgating.
Southern Living magazine, in this month's issue, is asking its readers who has the best college football tailgating in the South.
Georgia, which has about 100,000 tailgaters for every home game, is joined by Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee in the "Powerhouse" category.
Country stars Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan said there is no debate: It's all Georgia Bulldogs.
"Tailgating is college football. It's Saturdays grilling, drinking beer, chips and friends," said Aldean, who was born in Georgia and tries to attend as many games as he can. "In the Southeast, football is religion. It's an excitement unlike anything else."
Bryan graduated from Georgia Southern University but still considers himself a University of Georgia fan.
"There is nothing better than sitting in a parking lot drinking beer," the country singer said. "The leaves start changing colors. You know that fall is here. That's why I love tailgating."
Maybe that's why Bryan's third album, released last fall, is called "Tailgates & Tanlines." The success of that platinum CD propelled Bryan to two Country Music Association nominations last week: Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year.
"Getting those nominations," Bryan said, "is like the Bulldogs winning the national championship!"
Georgia is ranked No. 7 this season with a home game against Florida Atlantic on Saturday night.
Aldean and Bryan will miss the game and the tailgating because they are performing that night in Noblesville, Ind., but there will be thousands outside Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.
In fact, more than 20,000 people likely will be outside the stadium without a ticket, just to soak up the atmosphere.
"It's a feeling about family togetherness. It's Bulldogs Nation," said Tom Jackson, vice president of public affairs for the university. "It's really all about the loyalty to the SEC. We don't think any other conference has that kind of identity to all of its fans."
Jackson has tailgated at nearly every home game since 1971. He started out as a student, and he's now a grandfather, so his children and grandchildren come to enjoy tailgating and Bulldogs football.
Tailgating is like "going into battle every week where nobody gets hurt," Jackson said, "Well, nobody really gets hurt."
Aldean said he'll be back at the stadium soon. He thinks the team has some great potential this season.
"I think they have a shot of playing for the national title, or at least the SEC championship," said Aldean, who was nominated for CMA Entertainer, Male Vocalist and Single of the Year. "I think they've already created some excitement for the whole season. I'm rooting on the team either at the games or with friends around the TV."