Whether you follow pro or college ball, nothing really compares to that feeling you get when you see your team take the field for their first official game. While the NFL managed to spare us some drama this summer compared to last off-season's lockout, trying to pick where you want to watch football in Charleston can feel dramatic in of an itself. With so many great sports bars to choose from, where can a lonely Charlestonian go to rub elbows with some fellow fans?
Here's a list to get you started, finding your fan bar. It's by no means comprehensive; if we left out your favorite spot to watch football, let us know in the comments section.
Charleston is crawling with Clemson fans. Together with USC's Gamecocks, the Tiger's make up the majority of Charleston's college football fanatics. With wide receiver Sammy Watkins, arguably the most talented player in the ACC, the Tigers have a lot to look forward to this season. Fans of the Purple and Orange can be found all over town, but you can be almost sure to see them in force at Moe's Downtown Tavern and Midtown Bar and Grill.
Like the Tigers, at least a few University of South Carolina fans will be in almost any given sports bar around town on game night. If you are looking for the strongest congregation of Gamecocks, check out King Street Grille. Though USC looked OK in their opener with Vanderbilt, they will really have to step their game up if they want to succeed in this year's competitive SEC.
Athens really isn't that far from Charleston, but sometimes you just can't take time to get away to see the Bulldogs play. After all, tailgating really is an all-day commitment. Charleston's University of Georgia enthusiasts should head to Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ on Sullivan's Island where Bulldogs fans have gathered for years.
University of Michigan's opening contest against the Crimson Tide will surely be one of the best games of opening weekend. While some doubt that the Wolverines have the firepower to match up against Alabama's stacked SEC roster, this game may very well be closer than expected. Michigan fans meet up at Mad River on the Market, downtown.
Mellow Mushroom's downtown location is a haven for Virginia Tech Hokies. Even the most mild of sports fans should consider going to Mellow for Tech's last game of the season against their rival University of Virginia.
For the large sub-population of transplanted Ohioans, there are several places to find your teams. All Ohio State fans should head to Bighorn's Sports Grill, which is where the Lowcountry Buckeyes Fan Club will be convening to watch football this year. It'll be interesting to see how Urban Meyers will settle into his new job as head coach since his team will be unable to compete in a bowl game this year,
University of North Carolina fans can meet up at the Kickin' Chicken's Mt. Pleasant location. Only time will tell how the Tar Heels offense will take to their new head Coach Larry Fedora's up-tempo spread offense. If all goes according to plan, Carolina will be running more plays per games, and finding themselves in the red zone with greater frequency. Tar Heels fans also have been known to Flock to Burns Alley.
After handling last year's Big East competition, West Virginia University has moved to the superior Big-12. We can only speculate how West Virginia will do in their new conference, but fans interested in seeing for themselves can meet up with their fellow Mountaineers at Mad River.
Atlanta fans meet upstairs at Mellow Mushroom downtown location to cheer on Matt Ryan and the Falcons. After last year's disappointing first-round play off loss, maybe this will be the season the Falcons go all the way and win the NFC.
Charleston Beer Works attracts many Buffalo Bills fans who gracefully share the joint with division rival Patriot supporters. If the Bills want to their dozen year play off draught to come to and end, a lot of hard work is in order starting with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick who led the NFL in interceptions last year.
While some sports bars prefer to keep their allegiances informal or discreet, the King Street Grille is unabashed about being a true Pittsburg Steelers bar. Though two of their best draft picks are already seriously injured, (David DeCastro and Sean Spence) the Steeler's defense nevertheless makes them a team to be feared.
The Kickin' Chicken's downtown location is a safe bet for Baltimore Ravens fans. One of the bartenders cheers for Baltimore, and you will probably see at least one purple Jersey at the bar on game night.
With his very livelihood on the line this season, Coach Andy Reid will be more determined than ever to see his Philadelphia Eagles make an impressive post season run. Mad River is the place to be for every Eagles game.
Though the original owner actually played for the Giants, Big John's Tavern is the standard meeting place for Miami Dolphins fans. While most doubt that quarterback Ryan Tannehill has enough receiver options to make the team a legitimate threat this year, fans should take comfort in the fact that this season marks the 40th anniversary of the Dolphins' historical undefeated season.
With perhaps the most talented (and certainly the most handsome) quarterback in the NFL, New England Patriots fans have a couple venues to choose from this football season. Places that attract Red Sox fans by default tend to lure most of Charleston's Pats supporters. If you are on Sullivan's Island, head to >Dunleavy's Pub; if you're downtown, Charleston Beer Works or Chucktown Tavern are your best bets.
If you root for a Western team, odds are you will want to go to Halls Chophouse to see a game. According to the Halls Brothers, the Chophouse caters to all Cowboys, Raiders, and 49ers alike. A lack of rivalries among these three teams should make going to Halls a fun time for all.