NASHVILLE When Mitch Davis, a 2010 USC graduate, moved to Nashville, he sought out fellow alumni to gather to watch Gamecock games in local bars.
Davis said eight people showed up for the first game, a number dwarfed by other SEC schools which can pack establishments with boisterous, jersey-wearing fans.
“We were surprised to see how huge LSU, Auburn and Alabama groups were,” Davis said. “There had to be more (Gamecock fans in Nashville.) We decided to reach out.”
Today, when the My Carolina Alumni Club of Nashville erects a flagpole on the bed of a pickup truck so the Gamecock flag can proudly wave, Davis expects a few hundred to join him at Jed’s Sports Bar & Grille before the No. 9 Gamecocks start their season against Vanderbilt in a nationally televised game on ESPN.
If you want to see where the Gamecocks are hanging out before kickoff, head to Jed’s.
“We’re expecting a massive crowd,” said Davis, the president of the alumni club that refers to itself as the Nashville Gamecocks.
Jed’s is on 28th Avenue in the West End Vanderbilt area of Nashville. Vanderbilt Stadium at Dudley Field can be seen from the bar’s upstairs outdoor deck, as the stadium is just across West End Avenue from Jed’s.
The Nashville Gamecocks will set up tents in the fenced-in area in front of Jed’s for the event that starts at 11 a.m. and is scheduled to go on until midnight.
“We wanted to make it as much of a tailgate as possible,” said J.W. Brunson, a Nashville Gamecocks board member. “The only limitation is parking.”
USC president Harris Pastides is expected to be one of the tailgate’s many guests, along with Julie Roberts, a Lancaster native who is a Nashville-based country singer.
Roberts, who wrote “Sweet Carolina,” a song being used to promote USC’s historic $1 billion campaign, Carolina’s Promise, said she and her mother, Sandra Roberts, are attending the game as Pastides’ guests.
“His office reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, the Gamecocks are playing in Nashville against Vanderbilt and would you like to come,’ ” Roberts said. “I said, ‘Sure would.’ ”
Pamela Leonard, who opened Jed’s with her husband, John, about a year ago, said visiting fans from other SEC schools, like Georgia, have tailgated at Jed’s.
“Come early and find a grassy spot,” she’s been telling the frequent callers inquiring about tailgating options for tonight’s game.
The staff at Jed’s is ready for a busy day as Gamecock fans have a reputation for rolling deep. (Last week, though, the Nashville City Paper reported that USC returned a quarter of its 6,000 ticket allotment, sparking debate in various online message boards.)
“You’ll think that you’re in Columbia,” Albert Zampino, a bartender at Jed’s said.
The event at Jed’s is the Nashville Gamecocks’ introduction of sorts to Gamecock Nation, as the Nashville alumni have been loosely organized. Davis and Brunson, along with Hollis Halford, Alex Garmezy and others have been working to change that.
The Nashville Gamecocks have become an official chapter of the My Carolina Alumni Association, said Brunson, who added that they will become an official chapter of the Gamecock Club once the membership numbers are verified.
“We’ve never done anything this official or this organized,” Brunson, a 2011 USC graduate, said about the tailgate. “We’re going to be very visible.”