The most amazing thing about Tailgate was Tailgate. The second most amazing thing was that it was allowed to go on. It was Duke’s Hamsterdam: a lawless space designated for anarchy, debauchery and ultimately, underage drinking. And a lot of it. But then it was a gone, when the 14-year-old sibling of a student passed out in a Porta-Pottie. We went through the stages of grief. At first, we didn’t believe it could be true, then we were upset. We tried to think of ways to make it work. Then we were more upset. And I think only now are we reaching the stage of acceptance, as the Class of 2014—The Last of the Tailgaters—will graduate in May. Soon, there won’t be any students at Duke who experienced Tailgate. Maybe then there will start to be real student tailgating, but that’s tailgate with a lowercase ‘t’. Now, a few years removed, I thought it was time to document Tailgate.

"The 14-year-old hadn’t just passed out. The 14-year-old had been left in an outhouse passed out by a sibling who had gone on without even knowing it. That sibling didn’t deserve for the sibling to still be alive." — Duke President Richard Brodhead

I wanted to know how it got started and speak to the pioneers who started the wildest party Duke had. I wanted to know how it came to be that students wore crazy costumes to a football pregame. I wanted to hear the stories that could only happen at Tailgate. I wanted to speak to the administrators who condoned and regulated Tailgate before ultimately canceling it. I wanted to put Tailgate in the context of the other cultural changes going on at Duke at the time. And this is what I came up with. For better, for worse, for cheap beer, this was Tailgate.

—Andrew Beaton


Kevin Marchetti (Trinity ’00, president of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity): So here is the history of Tailgate: When I was a freshman and sophomore, the lacrosse team at the time always had a Tailgate.

It was actually almost by the President’s House in an open field. My freshman and sophomore year, it was kind of only lacrosse guys. What happened was I was in Phi Psi, and a bunch of the lacrosse players were in the Phi Psi fraternity, and the Tailgate got moved to the parking lot area, in the back parking lot, and then other guys in the fraternity started showing up and girls started showing up at the end of junior year.

Joe Alleva (Duke Athletic Director 1998-2008, started at Duke in 1976): In the late ’90s was when it really started cranking up.

Sue “Dean Sue” Wasiolek (associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, joined staff in 1979): I know it started out in the Blue Zone and in the lower lot of the Blue Zone—the lot closest to Duke University Road.

Alleva: It didn’t start in the Blue Zone. Sue Wasiolek and Larry Moneta moved it to the Blue Zone to try and contain it so that high school kids couldn’t get into it. They tried to contain it so it was only Duke students and nobody else could get into it.

Richard Brodhead (Duke president since 2004): The thing that always surprised me is that the way people used to talk about Tailgate, you’d think that Tailgate had gone on since the 1930s. The funny thing is I was here for almost the entire life of this allegedly immemorial tradition.

Larry Moneta (vice president of student affairs since 2001): So 2001, I arrive and there’s really a dearth of an alternate social scene. Section parties were going on, but the big opportunities were no longer in existence. Tailgating filled a void.

Dean Sue: In the beginning, there was no administrative involvement whatsoever.


Aaron Fenton (Trinity ’05, lacrosse player): I think they got started by Kevin Marchetti. That was probably in ’98 or so.

"We show up with a horse and carriage, dressed like idiots, I don’t even remember what we were wearing. We felt like it was a parade, throwing candies every which way, and there’s a midget at the reins bringing us in." — Fenton

Marchetti: Myself and this guy [Dan Roediger, Trinity ’00] started wearing some costumes, and it escalated from there. One guy showed up in a limousine, one guy hired a midget to show up, and then we brought a U-Haul one time with a bunch of people in the back. This one guy showed up in a Teen Wolf costume, and it started escalating from there, and everybody started getting their own gimmicks.

Justin Dilucchio (Trinity ’04, baseball player): The lacrosse team always had a theme going, they were always dressed up as something funny. One game, everybody was dressed as a professional wrestler.

One of my teammates wore a one-piece women’s bathing suit and had a wig on and pretended to stroll this baby stroller around and let it roll down the hill—stupid things like that. I can still picture my buddy wearing that thing, letting go of the stroller and the baby is rolling down the hill, and these people that weren’t part of the Tailgate, from [East Carolina University] were looking at him like, “Oh my god the baby is rolling down the hill and the mom is screaming after it.”

Moneta: It’s always been silly. I have no idea if they were thematic or why costumes were there, but they were there. The risqué ones were the ones that always became more prominent as time passed.

"I never went to Tailgate here. The President couldn’t do that." — Brodhead

Dilucchio: Sorority girls would show up, and they’d all have matching outfits on, like they’d be dressed up like tennis girls or country-club style.

Moneta: You’d have sororities that would choose a theme—they’re all going to be police officers. So costumes became its own thing and device for distinguishing their group. There were some that had its own silliness: the banana, the gorilla. I think part of it was everything about Tailgate was outrageous. There was collective outrageous and individual outrageous. So I can imagine people going on Wednesday or Thursday, “How am I going to be outrageous this weekend?” And costuming was part of it.

Kim Wenger (Trinity ’12, women’s lacrosse player): I played lacrosse, and we had Tailgate bins we’d pass down of ridiculous clothes, so everyone would just kind of trade off and mix things up every Tailgate.

Alleva: A lot of guys would dress up like girls. It was wild.

Fenton: One year we rented a horse and carriage, and I believe we hired a midget to drive us. So picture this: It’s 10 a.m., and everybody is already there for a couple hours. We show up with a horse and carriage, dressed like idiots, I don’t even remember what we were wearing. We felt like it was a parade, throwing candies every which way, and there’s a midget at the reins bringing us in. Then what happened at Tailgate who’s to say—I have no idea.

Russ Ferguson (Trinity ’06, Interfraternity Council vice president of community interaction, Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity president): I remember being at Tailgate and waiting for my friend, looking for him and couldn’t find him. Finally, he came and I said, “Where were you?” and he pointed to a guy dressed up as the Hamburglar out there. And he said he had he had gone to McDonald’s before Tailgate because the Hamburglar was there ordering like 50 hamburgers, taking his character to the literal extreme.

David Levine (Trinity ‘11, president of Phi Delta Theta fraternity): We’d always go to the Goodwill store and buy the $1 hats and $1 T-shirts. One time they had like 15 Starbury hats, and I bought them all for like 50 cents.

In addition to whatever else we got from Goodwill, I remember handing out Starbury hats to whoever I could find. That would be my fondest memory: seeing people’s Starbury hats covered in beer.

Mike Lefevre (Trinity ’11, Duke Student Government president 2010-2011): Once, a bunch of the [Naval Academy] students had gotten into the Tailgate, and all of these Duke students were wearing these incredible costumes in stark contrast with these perfectly prim, pressed Navy plebes wearing their dress whites. They’ve got their little Dixie-cup hats on. It was fun, but to see them against this backdrop of other private school insanity was a fabulous moment.


Fenton: When I got there, it was definitely established—at least among the lacrosse players and lacrosse team—meaning we would get there early Saturday. I’m talking if it’s a 1 p.m. game, we’re getting there at 6 or 6:30. We pooled our money together and bought as much beer together in keg form as we could. That ended up being anywhere between 13 and 17 or 18 kegs. We’d roll up in cars on Saturday morning and stake out a spot in the Blue Zone, and we’d always dress up.

The rest of the scene, besides the 10 or 12 parking spots we had allotted to our area, it was the visiting teams’ tailgate lot. I’m sure they thought we were a bunch of idiots because they would obviously go to the game.

Marchetti: When we were there, it was constant madness and entertainment. Every 20 minutes or half hour something was going on. Some guys tried to rip down a tree once. There was keg tossing in there.

When a keg would get empty, there was a fence, and it was a strongest man competition, so people would toss the empty kegs over the wire fence that was 20-feet high.

Zach Schreiber (Trinity ’04, baseball player): There’s a fence that butts up against the woods, and it’s kind of curved at the top, so we had a couple guys on the team that once the kegs were done would try to toss them over. I remember walking back in the woods and there were just 20 empty kegs sitting back there from people doing that.

Fenton: We would sometime in the middle of the Tailgate, one of the seniors or some of the seniors would get people together and do what we called “Around the Horn.” It was essentially a chant, “Around the horn, around the horn, around the horn, around the horn,” and it would bring all the lacrosse players in kind of like a mosh pit, jumping around together with 30 guys yelling “around the horn, around the horn.”

Then a senior would inevitably point at a freshman or somebody on the team and say, “You’re gonna boot, you’re gonna boot, you’re gonna boot” and everybody starts saying “you’re gonna boot,” and he starts chugging a beer until he boots. So we went around and did that until it got to the next guy and eventually everybody took their turn. It was always a cool tradition for the lacrosse team only. It especially got cool and unique when the whole school was in the parking lot as opposed to just us and our friends and visiting fans. It made it feel like we started this thing, this is our tradition.

Patrick Byrnes (Trinity ’08, Chronicle sports writer): [In 2004], it was okay to play beer pong, so I just remember playing beer pong and hanging out there. We beat two of our friends and made them go ask J.J. Redick to play us, and Redick and [Chris] Duhon did come play beer pong with us.

They beat us. Duhon cheated. To say he leaned over the table was an understatement. He basically just reached over and dropped the ball in the cup.

Fenton: We introduced the 50-gallon trash cans that were filled with ice and water, we invented the dunk-a-roo, which was dunk your head in the water for as long as you can, pop out, grab a beer and shotgun it as fast as you can. That was pretty big for a year or two.

Andrew Longenecker (Pratt ’07, IFC vice president 2006-07, member of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity): “One year [members of Delta Sigma Phi] got this abandoned school bus we’d drive in and party inside that. There were a couple guys that bought this school bus at an auction or something and rolled in on the first Tailgate of the year with a big school bus decked out with beer and wine, partying inside and on top of the school bus.

Wenger: Beer was tossed everywhere, which was fun. You didn’t go without expecting to get drenched. I definitely remember “Shout” playing and freaking out because it was fun. I remember the lacrosse boys would bring big speakers in their trucks and blare music. Then there was a big frat section, but everyone was very cordial. It was a very community feel.

"I’d say to folks, “You understand what you’re doing here? You’re representing the worst stereotypes of Duke. The wealthy, couldn’t-care-less, partying it up and leaving your shit on the ground so the lowest paid employees can come and clean up after you." — Moneta

Fenton: I remember running across the Porta-Potties. I never did it myself. I probably would’ve broken my neck.

Wenger: One of my friends mastered the kicking a beer out of someone’s hands, and catching it, then drinking it all in one motion.

Marchetti: I thought it was awesome how it brought the school together. It galvanized the student body, and that can be an issue at Duke.

Moneta: I would even say there were attributes about this that were terrific: the camaraderie.

Ferguson: All the athletes were there, but so were kids who you never saw leave the library.

Longenecker: I had friends that went to SEC schools that have legendary tailgates, but they’d come visit and just be astonished at what a fun time it was.


"And we tried and tried and tried, year after year after year putting different measures into place to keep that from happening because you couldn’t have the good part of it if it would always degenerate into the horrible dangerous part of it." — Brodhead

In September 2002, the administration banned kegs at Tailgate. Kegs were already prohibited on campus without a University bartender, and Dean Sue discovered kegs at Tailgate when she visited it after a letter to then-President Nan Keohane from ECU fans complained that intoxicated tailgaters yelled profanities and vandalized their cars. In the summer of 2004, Tailgate policy came under further scrutiny after fans had complained about vandalism and damage to their cars during the past football season.

Dean Sue: The way that [Tailgate] really came to our attention was that at one of the football games, several of these students were alleged to have vandalized the car of a visiting fan.

The way that we found out was the fan of the visiting team got in touch with the athletic director and basically said, “This behavior is unacceptable. We came and parked in one of your parking lots, we did not have to tolerate this and what are you going to do about it?”

Moneta: The fall of ’03 was the first modest expansion of what had been some modest, private tailgating. In some respects, if you want to tell the story, you have to go back to the ’90s because the real shift in alcohol really happened [in 1999] after Raheem Bath died. That’s when you had a two-year self-examination on Duke’s alcohol culture—probably the most serious one of the last 20 years was on the heels of that death. That’s the one that resulted in party monitors being created, kegs being eliminated and the sort of 20-year history of kegs on the quad. In many respects, the tailgating was related to the seismic shift in the social scene that resulted from the campus reaction to Raheem Bath’s death. The campus and the people were looking for an alternative.

Fenton: The first time that the school started to do anything was when they banned kegs. That was the big deal.

Dean Sue: Kegs were a part of Tailgate primarily when it was a smaller event. Once it became a more organized event where groups registered and all of that, I don’t recall that kegs were a major part of Tailgate.

We had a policy on campus, which said any common distribution of alcohol needed to have a University bartender. So for us to have allowed kegs to continue would have been a real inconsistency in terms of that policy.

Fenton: We said okay, we won’t bring kegs, and what we ended up doing was we rented a 10 or 14-foot U-Haul truck, bought as much canned beer as we could, filled the U-Haul full with 30-packs of beer and then the same thing. We had 50-gallon trashcans filled with ice and water, threw all the beer in there.

Dilucchio: It was a horrible idea in my perspective because the lacrosse team showed up with a U-Haul truck filled with cases of beer. So it’s like do you want a couple big kegs or hundreds of cases of beer and cans everywhere? From a messy standpoint it was the worst decision ever.

Fenton: It was the same party, except now there were thousands of beer cans littered across the parking lot at the end of the thing. It kind of made the school look like idiots because at the end of the day they didn’t achieve anything, and now they had a thousand cans of beer they had to pick up. I don’t think they were too happy about that.

Dean Sue: Well, when there were kegs, the mess was with cups. It’s not like the folks engaged in Tailgate ever felt particularly motivated to clean up after themselves. You could say it was a complete mess because of cans, but it was also messy when there were cups. The thing that did not change from kegs to cans was the fact that there was a very high-risk level of drinking taking place. It was clearly abusive consumption. People started to bring funnels, so we started to monitor that as well.

Lefevre: Did you ever watch when they tried to clean up Tailgate? It was incredible machinery. They had front-loaders that would come by and scoop. They had an army of guys—facilities management employees—that would come by with leaf blowers and blow all of the refuse from those three hours and put it in the corner and it would get scooped up. It must’ve taken a half hour, but it was spotless.

Moneta: In retrospect, [Tailgate cost] probably hundreds of thousands of dollars between the staff presence, the prep before, the prep after. I just hated the cleaning that had to go on after. I’d say to folks, “You understand what you’re doing here? You’re representing the worst stereotypes of Duke. The wealthy, couldn’t-care-less, partying it up and leaving your shit on the ground so the lowest paid employees can come and clean up after you. Doesn’t that message mean anything to you?” It gets through when you’re sober, doesn’t get through when you’re not sober.

James Coleman (John S. Bradway professor of law, chair of the 2006 Report of the Lacrosse Ad Hoc Review Committee): I grew up in a time when we had keg parties sponsored by my dorm. Some of us drank too much, but we were always at the dorm when that happened or outside in the yard, so your friends would just walk you back to your room and that would be it. I would let students have parties on campus with kegs of beer.

The problem isn’t kegs. The problem is getting students to be responsible.

The ban on kegs in 2002 was the administration’s first restriction on Tailgate rules, but the party grew even larger once the administration isolated students into their own lot in the Blue Zone to separate them from opposing fans and alumni. They also instituted a ban on having cars at Tailgate, a rule that would be imposed, repealed and revised over the ensuing years. During the 2005 season, the administration prevented students from removing their cars from Tailgate until halftime of the game to prevent unsafe driving. Also among the new rules that year, glass containers, funnels and drinking games were banned. They also, for the first time, attempted to end Tailgate when the game began. Others also took initiatives as the party garnered more attention, such as Sean McNally, Duke’s baseball coach from 2005-2012, who banned his team from Tailgate.

Coleman: When the University set up the compound, they stayed away from it and left it to the students. Then they were free to do whatever they wanted to do.

It was Hamsterdam. It was Las Vegas. What happens at Tailgate stays at Tailgate, except it didn’t.

Dean Sue: Our goal was really to keep the event safe. We attempted to work with the students, the student government over time to figure out how can we keep this safe. At one Tailgate, DSG hired a band. The band was in the parking lot and after about a half-hour packed up and left because they felt as though they, particularly their equipment, was in jeopardy of being damaged. We engaged security, we engaged Duke Police. We had times when we allowed vehicles, we had other times when we didn’t allow vehicles. We went through a number of years of significant difficulty of feeling comfortable that the event was a safe one.

"This is going to be the grandfather in me talking: I wondered how many sexual assaults came from [Tailgate]. I wondered how much victimization there was. I would cringe at watching some of the drunk women in particular." — Moneta

Moneta: Among the series of reforms was containing it and ID checking. We never had a problem after the second or third year because we had a single point for entry and departure. That helped keep the outsiders out, other than the ones that would sneak in with an ID or something.

Schreiber: We tailgated every single year. It got progressively worse—there were more and more rules. By the time I graduated, it wasn’t nearly as fun. It was just pretty much free reign, you could park wherever you wanted to, they didn’t have it blocked off or anything. By the end, my senior year, it was pretty regulated.

Moneta: Had we said let’s keep it among the cars and tried to let this evolve into what’s normal tailgating around the country, on the back of cars, I don’t know if that would’ve been better or worse. I know by virtue of immediately containing it into a car-free zone, it very quickly by the following year was its own event. I raise the car issue more to question it, and in retrospect I don’t know if it was the right decision or wrong decision.

In 2004, a Duke non-athlete student was arrested for doing cocaine off the hood of a car at the Tailgate before the North Carolina game.

Dean Sue: After that, I don’t remember if it was shortly after that or the next season, we literally got a report that there were Duke students slash student-athletes snorting cocaine off the hood of a car in the same general vicinity.

Alleva: If Sue said that, that’s news to me. I never heard any rumors about any drug use at all, it was only alcohol.

Longenecker: That kind of thing wasn’t common. If you saw someone do that, it would’ve been an issue.

At the same Tailgate, a student was taken to the hospital after a fight broke out.


Alleva: Tailgating became more important than the football game. Students would tailgate and not even come to the game, just keep tailgating. We had to work to get them to come to the games because they would just stay out there and keep partying.

Coleman: The problem was that it would start in the morning, and it would go through the game. By then people would get really shit-faced, and it didn’t have anything to do with the game.

Byrnes: When we first started tailgating, you didn’t have to go in at kickoff, so it was just a party all day. You could go into the game and come back.

In 2006, three Duke lacrosse members were falsely accused of sexually assaulting a woman they had hired to dance at an off-campus party during spring break.

"Because Larry Moneta and Sue blamed lacrosse for really starting the Tailgates, they didn’t have a whole lot of respect for the lacrosse team. That probably went a long way in their feelings about the lacrosse team when the lacrosse incident came up." — Alleva

Amid the scandal, the University commissioned the “Report of the Lacrosse Ad Hoc Review Committee” to “look into the behavior of members of the lacrosse team over the past five years.”

The 2006 Report of the Lacrosse Ad Hoc Review Committee: In the Fall of 2005, the group of administrators who monitored Tailgate decided to impose a time limit for the event to encourage students to stop drinking and attend the football game. [Lacrosse] Coach [Mike] Pressler took action that he thought would contribute to that goal. He ordered his players to leave Tailgate fifteen minutes before the football game, to meet him at the flagpole outside the football stadium, and then as a group to attend at least the first half of the game. Administrators in Student Affairs hoped other students would follow the lacrosse players out of Tailgate and into the game because of their prominence in the event.

Although other students followed the lacrosse players out of the first few Tailgates, they stopped doing so mid-way into the season.

Coleman: One of the mistakes I think the administration made was to think they might be able to use the lacrosse team to help them clean up Tailgate. The idea was that the lacrosse team would leave Tailgate as a unit and go to the game and that others would follow. The lacrosse team left because the coach required them to leave, so they’d gather up at the flagpole and march into the games together, but basically they did that alone. There weren’t other groups.

Following the lacrosse scandal in August 2006, Moneta told The Chronicle, “All eyes are on Duke,” referring to media coverage after the lacrosse scandal. He also said, “fumbling the tradition would have dire consequences.” “Fumbling the tradition” would become an idiom surrounding Tailgate for the ensuing years.

Moneta: I don’t remember lacrosse dramatically influencing it. It’s all a bit of a blur in my head, but for whatever version it was at that point, it was still us just trying to do our best to find a way to make it work. I don’t remember any attempt to use lacrosse as a leveraging tool. If we wanted to interrupt it, there was not a single year where we could’ve said for cause this can’t continue.

Alleva: I think they’re totally separate issues. Totally separate issues. Because Larry Moneta and Sue blamed lacrosse for really starting the Tailgates, they didn’t have a whole lot of respect for the lacrosse team. That probably went a long way in their feelings about the lacrosse team when the lacrosse incident came up.

Coleman: [Coach Pressler] was a straight shooter. To the extent he knew about some of these problems, he tried to deal with it.

Adam Murray (Trinity ’06, baseball player): I know a lot of people at Tailgate never went to the football game, and that’s something the University was trying to increase attendance, and it bothered them about Tailgate, but that was primarily because our teams during those years were not the teams you see today. It was at the beginning of the rebuilding process. I could sympathize with those players as a member of a program in similar circumstances.

Fenton: When I was there, the team was so bad that it wasn’t even worth going into the game for. The only time we’d go into the game would be to figure out food.

It was no more than a couple plays. It was go in, get food, get something in your stomach, and you couldn’t get back into Tailgate fast enough. It got to be a really fun time, and the longer you were there the better it got.

We would party there through the game and at the latest an hour or so after the game ended. I remember hanging out there for three hours one time after a game and people would slowly peel off. That was just the start of the day for us. People would leave, abandon their cars there, go back, shower and go out to the bars.

Dilucchio: If it’s a noon game, the chances of us getting into that were pretty slim. If it was a night game, we’re more likely to wind things down and head into the games. Depends who we were playing, the score at the half. If it was close, we would mosey in.

There were times when it’d be a noon game, we’d show up at 9 o’clock, and we’d still be there at 8 o’clock at night, never having gone to the game. Not that we didn’t want to go to the game, but if we were playing Florida State we were down by 50 at half and having a good time.

Dean Sue: I began asking the students if they were having a Tailgate next week, and they would say, “No! Why would we have a Tailgate next week, we don’t have a home game.” I would say, “What difference does that make? The Tailgate has nothing to do with the football.” So, the football almost became for many students an excuse to have the Tailgate.

Alleva: You’ve got to remember that our football teams in those days were really pretty poor. There wasn’t a lot of excitement when you got in Wallace Wade Stadium, so the students really used it as an excuse to have a heck of a party. And they did—they dressed up, there was a lot of alcohol and music. It looked like a good time. I drove by it a couple times, but I never really went to it.

Brodhead: I never went to Tailgate here. The President couldn’t do that.

Dean Sue: Our whole purpose was to keep Tailgate fun and safe, and at the end encourage everyone to go to the football game. It was a very simple philosophy behind Tailgate. The problem was that unless we brought an end to Tailgate, it would’ve just kept going and people would’ve stayed in the parking lot for an extended period of time and never gone to the game. And it would’ve continued to become more unsafe. So we put an end and would say for a 12:30 game, at 11:30 we would start closing up the lot and asking groups to clean up, turning the music down by 12:15 so we could start clearing the lot.

Alleva: As we progressed, we got a lot more of them to go to the game. The secret, though, is you’ve got to put a good product on the field to make them stay at the game. If the game got out of hand, of course they’d leave and go back and tailgate. But if the games were good and close, then they’d stay.

Dean Sue: That process of clearing the lot and shutting Tailgate down so that everybody would go to the game would be a very, very contentious and confrontational process. We tried to keep the police out of it. We felt that we were in a better position with some of our administrative staff to encourage students to begin to fold up and close things down and go to the game. That became for some folks very intimidating and somewhat threatening.

I went to folks and said it’s time to start putting things away and turn the music down. And then you’d walk away and the music would get turned back up. It was a difficult situation.

The football team’s struggles during the 2000s led to an unusual excitement when they had the chance to win a game. In 2002, the Blue Devils beat ECU at home after going winless for two consecutive seasons. They also beat Clemson 16-13 in 2004 on a last-second, 53-yard field goal. Duke students stormed the field and tore down the goalposts after both wins.

Schreiber: The thing is, when we played ECU, there were usually more ECU fans in the stadium than Duke fans. Same with Clemson, our stadium was always orange. I was always used to seeing the stadium at Duke filled with the other teams’ fans. It was awesome to see the look on their faces when we beat them and tore down the goalposts.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it was probably not my smartest decision ever, that’s for sure.

Dilucchio: I have friends that were sitting on it when it fell down.

Fenton: I got pictures on top of the goalpost, carrying those things down. We had a house on Markham Street, I don’t know if it still exists, we called it the “Blue House.” We had a piece, an eight-foot section of the goal post, we had it hanging up in that house for a couple of years.

Dean Sue: One year they cut it up on the main quad and gave students pieces of it. One student group came out with some hacksaws.

Byrnes: In 2004, it was fun because the buzz started going through the parking lot that Duke was still in it. I remember people leaving the Blue Zone to go watch the football game.

Longenecker: You’d get to the fourth quarter and a rumor would start spreading throughout the Tailgate crowd that, “Hey, we’re still in it! We’re only down by a score or two!” That game, I think we were ahead, it was our first ACC win in a number of years, the rumor went around, and everybody did a mass exodus from the Tailgate. As you’re walking over, everyone was saying, “We need to rush the field.” Security didn’t put up too much of a fight.

Ferguson: I went to every football game, but most people did not. It was pretty sparse. Seeing the stands packed, and then we won, then all of us just streamed onto the field, jumping off that wall one-by-one. We get to the goalpost and it was surrounded by security, huge guys, and they were prepared for it. They were like, “No, no, no” and so obviously we ran to the other field goal, and it was also surrounded by security, huge guys, and no one could get through. It was a standoff for what seemed like a long time, probably five or 10 minutes.

Dean Sue, actually, walked onto the field and said, “No, it’s okay,” and told security to disperse and to let us get up there and take the field goal down.

Dean Sue: I never allowed the goalposts. That’s not something I allowed, encouraged or was in favor of because pulling the goalposts down was an incredibly dangerous situation. We have seen the results of that at some other schools where people got hit, injured, and I think one person got killed at one school. What I did do was once the goalposts came down and students carried it across campus, I followed it because I don’t know if you’ve ever imagined what it’s like to carry a goalpost across a campus, but it’s not something that necessarily fits easily through archways. One year when they carried the goalposts, they carried it over cars, and there was significant damage. Once the goalposts came to a rest, then I was usually involved with Duke Police to make sure the goalposts got back to a place where it wasn’t able to do more damage.

Ferguson: We marched there then marched up to the Chapel with it, leaned it up against the Chapel and it stayed up there for a few days, if my memory is serving me correctly, which it may not be.

Continue to part two


Share and discuss “THE ORAL HISTORY OF TAILGATE” on social media.