Spread Formation, the hot-off-the press book by author, Loran Smith could at first glance seem to be about the spread offense used by so many football teams today.  But this book is really about a different kind of Spread; the tailgating phenomena prevalent on college campuses every Saturday during the fall.

Cover of Loran Smith's Spread Formation Tailgating Recipes cover by Loran Smith and Whitman Publishing



a sumptuous mealfeast or tailgate

Big GA spread in Jax photo from Loran Smith's Spread Formation photo courtesy of Carl and Barb Parks“Carlene Talton and her brother Cully (on left) grill a pork shoulder before every Georgia-Florida game.  Photo courtesy of Carl and Barb Parks.”

 Spread (Offense)


to stretch out:  extend, usually with the quarterback in the shotgun position and 3-4-5 receivers spread across the field.

Tennessee spreads the offense against Arkansas State photo by Kathy Miller

 Loran Smith is a legend in University of Georgia lore and the tailgating world.  “Smith was Georgia’s first sideline announcer.  He originated the ‘Tailgate Show’ and also originated the coaches locker room show.  He was the executive producer of the ‘Vince Dooley Show’ for over 15 years.  He is a freelance columnist and author, having authored or co-authored 15 books.”

John Curry/Staff Loran Smith About the Author photo

This book is much more than a listing of fan favorite recipes by schools.  Loran fills the pages with anecdotes, traditions, and interesting (some very funny) stories from colleges across the country.  He shares recipes from coaches, players, alumni and media favorites.

Loran with Clemson & UGA girls phot courtesy of Sherry Thrift Bradshaw and Whitman Publishing

“Author Loran Smith never met a tailgate party he didn’t like.  Photo courtesy of Sherry Thrift Bradshaw.”

I spent hours reading it during the past week (between going to Gainesville for tailgating and the Florida game and watching my Volunteers play on TV).  What I am discovering is a fan can’t just sit down and read the book all at once. The schools and their respective tailgating traditions deserve a more leisurely approach.

I want to savor each school and story. In that spirit I will share with you a story or a recipe from Loran Smith’s “Spread Formation”  throughout the college season, usually in conjunction with one of my tailgating travels.

If you are wondering why I am so enthusiastic about this book, I have to admit that I contributed tailgating information, pictures and traditions for several schools, The University of Florida and Duke University.  Knowing my loyalty to my alma mater, the University of Tennessee and my Gator Mom travels, Loran wrote,

“Kathy Miller is what college football and its attendant traditions–from school spirit to affection for alma mater to appreciation for tailgating traditions of other campuses–should be.  Root, root for the home team, but be civil to the visiting team and its fans.”

Kathy Miller interview by Kelly Hawkins for The Tailgate Tour photo by Kathy Miller

Kathy Miller, right is interviewed by niece, Kelly Hawkins for The Tailgate Tour.  Photo courtesy of KathyMillerTime.com.  Kelly Hawkins currently does on-camera work for PGATOUR.com

 A similar feeling was expressed by Nebraska’s Tom Osborne.

“Nebraskans,” says former Cornhusker head coach and Athletic Director Tom Osborne, “have a reputation for being prodigious tailgaters with elaborate spreads.  And they pride themselves on hospitality and kindness to opponents.”

“Most opposing fans send letters, indicating how much they appreciate the way they and their teams are treated,” he continued. “Often opposing coaches express similar sentiments.”

Loran’s response, “Hip, hip, hooray for Nebraska.  It would be great if more fans of more teams would take note of this overt expression of hospitality and start a similar trend on their own campus.  Instead of booing the visiting team when it takes the field for pregame warmups, how about a round of applause?  After all, they are our guests!”

I think I need to go to a Nebraska game!

This weekend’s big game is the Georgia game at South Carolina.

The storied Cockaboose Railroad will be in action.

Cockaboose Railroad at South Carolina photo by Kathy Miller

22 cabooses, all painted Garnet, sitting on dead tracks…right outside the stadium.

Tailgating Cockaboose Railroad photo by Kathy Miller

From Loran’s book, “When Ed Robinson and Carl Howard put the 22 empty cabooses up for sale in 1991, they sold out in three days.  All the cabooses look the same on the outside, but when it comes to interior decorating, Bob Davis says, ‘the sky’s the limit’.  If you have to have a Cockaboose–that is, if you can first find somebody who is willing to sell one–you will like have to pay $300,000 or more.”

 My “Tailgating With The Cockaboose Railroad” painting celebrates this tailgating tradition and includes the Stadium Village Pavilions.  As with any artist my one artistic license was to flip the unique lights in Williams-Brice Stadium to the other side of the Cockaboose Railroad.

Tailgating On The Cockaboose Railroad, painting by Kathy Miller

Fans leave the Cockaboose Railroad for the big game.

South Carolina fans leaving Cockaboose Railroad tailgate ready for the big game photo by Kathy Miller

 The other big game for me is the Oklahoma/Tennessee game in Norman, Oklahoma.  Loran’s book features a Polish Sausage Soup, courtesy of Barry and Becky Switzer.

Barry & Becky Switzer's polish sausage soup photo courtesy of the Switzers and Whitman Publishing

Think I am going to try this very soon.  And if Oklahoma wins I will make all 3 recipes featured in their chapter.  Bob and Carol Stoops’ Sooner Coffee Cake, Barry and Becky Switzer’s Polish Sausage Soup and Jay and Rita Wilkinson’s Rye Bread Dip.  It’s a challenge!

Loran’s “Spread Formation“, published by Whitman Publishing is a book you’ll want to keep close at hand; one that you will turn to when you need a great recipe for that big rivalry game; one that will give you some good reading before going to sleep at night; one that you’ll talk about with your tailgating friends; one you should give to every college football fan on your Christmas list!

Think I’ll go read another few chapters.

Watch for upcoming stories from my tailgating travels.  I welcome your comments, recipes and any inside information on your favorite tailgating spots.

Come celebrate with me.  I’ll save you a seat at the table.

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