JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Rob Tymkew was about as inconspicuous as a tall tree in a prairie. There he stood next to a gleaming black RV dressed from head-to-toe in his school colors, maize and gold.
Wait, maize-and-gold. As in the Michigan Wolverines.
Dude, you lost?
“Yes, I’m very confused this week,” Tymkew quipped.
No, Tymkew knew exactly where he was this weekend, and he was fired up about it. A resident of Kalamazoo, Mich., this was his first trip to Jacksonville and the Georgia-Florida game. He’d always heard a lot about it. So, when his new neighbor, Jeff Blackburn, asked Tymkew if he’d like to accompany him down this week, he was all for it.
“This is his rig,” Tymkew said of Blackburn, who was sleeping inside at the time. “I moved next door to him in May and we just became friends really quickly. He’s a good dude. So he said, ‘Rob, you want to go down and see this awesome tailgate down in Jacksonville, The World’s Largest Cocktail Party?’ I said, ‘yeah, maybe I do.'”
Eleven hundred miles later, here they were, one rig in a see of hundreds of them under an overpass just west of TIAA Bank Field. This is the area known as RV City, where Georgia and Florida fans and their hundred-thousand dollar rolling condominiums gather together for several days in advance of the annual game next to the St. Johns.
Tymkew and Blackburn have been here since Tuesday evening. Tymkew said he’s been to many a Michigan-Ohio State game and several bowl games, but he’s “never seen anything like this.”
“It’s different,” he said. “That’s a one-day tailgate and it’s fun. But you’re in and out in one day. A week-long tailgate? I’ve never done anything like this. And everybody here, I don’t care if they’re Florida, Georgia, Alabama, everybody just gets along. Everybody here is so friendly here. Really. Southern hospitality at it’s finest.”
The Michigan outfit was just temporary, a conversation piece, if you will. Tymkew has stocked up on Georgia clothes and was going to be rocking them for the game.
He badly wants Blackburn’s Bulldogs to win. They discussed during their long journey together the possibility of his Wolverines and Georgia meeting in the College Football Playoffs. But for that to happen, the Bulldogs have to take care of business today.
“Wouldn’t that be fun?” Tymkew said with a laugh. “We’re hoping for it. I’d be a Michigan fan that day. tomorrow, I’m a Bulldog fan, all the way!”