One of the greatest traditions in college life is the gameday celebration. For twelve Saturdays of the fall semester, college kids observe the holiness of college football through partying, tailgating and general revelry (regardless of how shit their school’s football team is). A custom with an origin dating back to the beginning of the university system, gamedays are more than just an excuse to get crushed on cheap beer and team spirit when it comes to Greek life; they are an opportunity to further a brotherhood’s reputation and celebrate the return of members who have graduated long ago. The ability to run a successful gameday is a critical move in the repertoire of any fraternity worth its salt.
There are quite a few different people who contribute to making gamedays the blown out fuckfests they often turn out to be. The risk manager who turns a Ray Charles-level blind eye to the day’s festivities, the alumnus who butters the front stairs and makes pledges drunkenly navigate their way down them as a rite of passage, and hell, even the lightweight bitch who pukes because he can’t funnel 12 ounces of Bud from the roof is an integral part of the fabric of the Saturday celebration. But there is one man out there who is critical to the gameday operation but doesn’t receive the level of recognition he rightfully deserves: The grill master.
All tailgates hinge on two fundamental things: the quantity of beer, and the quality of the meat. Without one of these essential components, any fraternity’s gameday celebration is destined to disappoint the people in attendance, and thus suck balls. The beer issue is easily remedied by kegs and/or troughs full of the finest lower caliber light beer the local supermarket liquor store or Chevron station can offer. The meat matter, on the other hand, requires a much more skilled hand to address.
Grill masters do not just materialize from an ethereal realm of medium-rare meat, rather they are forged in the fires of the grill itself. Their tricks and techniques have been passed down from the previous generations of the Saturday sauciers that came before them. To criticize their cooking is to insult them to their very core, because their backyard Bar-B-Q skills are the fabric from which they are cut as human beings. Each chapter lucky enough to have one of these experts step forward to man the charcoal has been blessed with an asset of priceless value. He is the true driving fire behind a successful gameday party, the fruit of his cooking labors the fuel in the bellies of all those who attempt keg stands and dizzy bat chugs.
My chapter’s celebration chef was a captain of his craft. Every gameday, he could be found hunched over the grill, a bottle of Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning (magic dust he called it) in one hand and steel tongs in the other, gazing intently at the burgers that sizzled on the cooking grate. It almost seemed like he was telepathically communicating with the meat; willing the round patties to tell him when to flip them. Nothing could distract him. Girls would stand next to him and drop flirty comments about his “I Turn Grills On” custom BBQ apron, but he would rebuff them with one-word answers and quick flicks of his wrist. It was only later, after all the hungry gamedayers were chowing down, that his brow would unfurrow and the weight of his job would lift from his shoulders. He would always save the last burger on the grill for himself. A trophy of yet another victory; another conquered Saturday.
So this is for you, you magnificent bastards. For the men who sacrifice half of their gameday to make sure everyone is fed. For the men who supply their own rubs and seasoning because the fraternity can’t find the room in the goddamn budget for some level of food that doesn’t suck. For the men who buy their own BBQ sets. You are the real heart and soul of the Greek gameday tradition, and I’ll be damned if I don’t salute you for it..