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Rutgers Football Tailgater of the Week: Illinois Edition!

A tough game this past week, but the tailgate scene continues to get better each week!

We took a trip out to the Purple Lot this week to find a tailgater to profile. The Purple Lot is an interesting one, in that it is the closest lot other than the Scarlet Lot that is paved, so no matter the weather, it doesn’t get messy in that lot. However, that wasn’t an issue this week, as perfect football weather conditions were in place. And a great group that call themselves The Knight’s Watch was holding court deep in the back of the Purple Lot. The “president” of the group is Cliff Buck, and he was happy to have On the Banks visit his group. The group has been tailgating close to 15 years now, and have a pretty large group, consisting of three canopies, and come as a group with four parking passes for each game. Cliff and his son began attending games many years ago, and parked at a friend’s home near the stadium, and tailgate in the friend’s front yard. After several years in the Blue Lot, they decided to move back to the Purple Lot, which is a quieter, as well as less muddy place, due to the blacktop mentioned earlier.

In addition to food, music, television, and good people, games are important to this group as well. A home made Jenga game, with each piece appropriately decorated with the Scarlet Block R, is a weekly highlight. You can see it in action in the photo at the top of the article.

After being invited by some friends to join them, Cliff and his son have been with them ever since. One of the group, Bill Gulliford was originally with another crew, and they dropped out and the current group in The Knight’s Watch was born. The name was a invention of Cliff’s daughter Emily.

The food is a smorgasbord of donations from everyone in the group, where everyone brings something to the party. Cliff’s wife Carol oversees the food operations, however. With the morning games this season the menu consists of breakfast and lunch items, obviously. With waffles, casseroles, pancakes, etc., the group is well fed prior to going to the game. And the waffles are not the frozen variety. Oh, no! They bring their own deep fryer and waffle maker, powered by their generator. If you are going to have waffles at the tailgate, this is the only way to go!

The resulting product is delicious, too! Carol describes the work of the group as a “well-oiled machine!”

Obviously, food isn’t enough to make a memorable tailgate. The aforementioned generator also is used to power their own satellite dish and TV to keep up with the action prior to the game, too.

Up to the minute football news comes in via their satellite dish, placed on the roof of the pickup directly behind the screen!

This is a local group, based right in Piscataway, so there is no excuse for them not to be there early, and they are usually set up by 8:00 AM for the morning games. They have a great time, and are a fun group of people. Congrats on being named On the Banks’ Tailgater of the Week!


One of the more interesting groups that visited Rutgers this weekend were a hardy crew of Boilermakers, led by Dave and Trish Johnson. This group also boasted another couple Chris Minissale and his fiancée Elisa Cabrera, all of whom are Purdue fans visiting the Rutgers v Illinois game because, and Dave said, “We’re Big Ten fans, and besides, we’re scouting Illinois as Purdue plays them next weekend!” Since they are New Jersey residents, they were rooting for Rutgers to beat Illinois, despite both Dave and Chris being Purdue alums. This is one of the great parts about now being part of the Big Ten. Big Ten fans support the conference as well as just their team. Chris and Elisa even bought Rutgers shirts to mark the occasion, too! It was great to have them visit this weekend.

From Left: Dave and Trish Johnson, Chris Minissale and Elisa Cabrera

Lest you think there were no Illinois fans there, have no fear. There were several groups of fans, and they even had their own tailgate group in the Green Lot! They were definitely up for the game, and came sporting their orange and blue as well.

The group just above flew in from Chicago the night prior to the game to cheer on the Illini, and were happy to be in Piscataway for the game.

Of course, everyone doesn’t tailgate, and everyone does not bring a lot of food with them to the game. All along Scarlet Walk Way are the ubiquitous grease trucks, most famous of all is the R U Hungry truck. It is always busy, and a line is almost always formed for their Fat Sandwiches.

Finally, at each and every game you get to see the Scarlet Knight’s beautiful horse. I have to admit, his “ride” is the most beautiful as well as most unusual mode of transportation you’ll see at the stadium. I encountered him as I was walking just outside the north entrance to the stadium about an hour prior to the game.

After three successive weeks of tailgates, there is a week’s respite as Rutgers travels to College Park this weekend. However, Homecoming Weekend is coming and on October 20 the Scarlet Knight faithful will all be back as Rutgers hosts Northwestern for only the second time. Northwestern visited the old Rutgers Stadium back in 1991, but this is their first meeting as members of the same conference. See you at Homecoming!