Texas Flavor, Ann Arbor Style
November 16, 2012 | by Laura J. Drouillard
It’s 50 degrees outside at 11 A.M., there’s a slight breeze, and the sun is peeking out behind the clouds. Chants of “Go blue!” sound in the air. It’s game day in Ann Arbor.
Rows of cornhole games, tents, grills, and flags line up along the University of Michigan Golf Course. But there’s something that sticks out arguably more than anything else: a 38-foot concession trailer reading “Legendary Texas Flavor.” It’s draped with the well-known “Go Blue” banner that U-M football players rush to jump up and tag as they charge into each Michigan football game.
As Matt Gase (’81) steps into the Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q trailer, he immediately checks on the custom built Southern Pride smoker, which holds 30 briskets that have been smoking since 6:00 P.M. the evening prior. Beside him, Rocky and Reggie Stubblefield—the grandsons of C.S. Stubblefield (“Stubb”), the company’s founder—cut up slices of the aromatic meat.
Gase—who has been CEO of Stubb’s since 2011—has been preparing for this Saturday in October for six months. It’s a day that will blend bar-b-que, football, and community service through the M Club’s first home-game tailgate. Proceeds benefit a recently created post-graduate scholarship fund.
“Stubb had a big heart, and he often donated food for a good cause,” says Gase. “We wanted to carry on this tradition while also giving people an opportunity to sample and try out Stubb’s in the Midwest—a region where we’re relatively not as well-known compared to the rest of the U.S.”
Through contacts, Gase began working with Mary Petrovich (U-M ’85), president of the M Club, an alumni group for athletes who have been awarded an “M” letter in U-M varsity athletics. The result: the M Club’s first official home game tailgate, which took place before the Michigan-Michigan State football game.
Stubb’s provided the event’s food—including Texas brisket, baby back pork ribs, Texas sausage, beans, and potato salad—and organized additional food and drink sponsors, including Sam Adams, Jim Beam, Menage et Trois, Grand Traverse Pie Company, and Busch's. They then opened the spread to M Club members for a small fee.
“It’s really an example of how Michigan alumni work to help one another,” Petrovich says. “It felt like the right time for this type of event; 70 percent of our membership lives outside of Michigan and this gave them a reason to come back. We’re hosting 400 letterwinners and their families for an unprecedented reunion surrounding one of our biggest rivalries.”
Gase—who grew up in Saginaw, Michigan—says he enjoyed returning to U-M and giving back. Another perk? He sees his daughter Jackie, a first-year LSA student, when he comes to Ann Arbor as well.
“I’m a Wolverine. I hold the University of Michigan very near and dear to my heart,” he says.
The M Club will make this an annual event, with plans to host a tailgate before next year’s Notre Dame game.
“The day was a huge success,” says Petrovich. “And certainly the Michigan victory made it all the better.”