TAMPA — In basic color theory, purple and orange are secondary colors.
But they were the primary hues at Raymond James Stadium on Friday morning as purple-clad fans of the Northwestern University Wildcats and orange-clad fans of the University of Tennessee Volunteers filled the parking lots for tailgating prior to the Outback Bowl.
For the Kooch clan, decked out in bright orange and white, and the Redisi family, donning purple, the color clash mattered not.
“We met last night at the Outback Bowl parade,” said Debbie Redisi, 55, of Steamwood, Illinois, who had purple Outback stickers under her eyes.
“We were just talking about how much we were hoping we would run into them,” said Heather Kooch, 37, of Knoxville, her face painted orange on the left and white on the right. “We struck up a conversation and became friends.”
The two families, enjoying a friendly rivalry, posed for pictures in front of the portable toilets in Parking Lot 6-D.
Though they traded hugs and handshakes, they differed on their projections for the outcome of the 30th Outback Bowl.
Raymond Redisi, 57, predicted a 21-17 Wildcats win.
Shawn Kooch, 43, had another view – “24-17 Vols!” he yelled.
Ultimately, the game was lopsided: a 45-6 victory by Tennessee. But anticipation was high in the pre-game celebrations.
Keegan Kooch, 15, was decked out in orange-and-white checked overalls, like his mom, and had high hopes for the future.
A lineman at Gibbs High School in Knoxville, he said he wants to become a Vol.
“I’ll do whatever it takes,” he said.
Across the field, under a big purple tent of the Florida Northwestern Alumni Association, C.J. Hansen, 21, geared up for the game with a small army of other Wildcats fans.
“This is my first time in Tampa,” said Hansen, a senior at Northwestern studying astro physics. “I would like to come back here and work for NASA one day.”
There was another reason Hansen was happy to be in Tampa.
“The weather down here is great,” he said. “It is so much colder in Chicago.”
Standing on a Denali pickup truck from the Orlando auto dealership he owns, Omar Rodriguez, 39, explained how he came to be a Vols fan.
“When I was five we didn’t have a lot of money and we went to the Salvation Army and I saw this neat orange-and-white blanket,” said Rodriguez, who served in the Marines from 1994 to 1998. “It was a Vols’ blanket and I have been a fan ever since.”
A short distance away, three generations of Vols ate and drank.
Jill Horn, 50, an obstetrician who graduated from Tennessee in 1997, said the Vols would win.
For Catherine Colby, 36, it didn’t really matter who won.
The St. Petersburg teacher has been to every Outback Bowl since they began — 30 years ago.
“We’ve tailgated at every single one,” she said, recalling times when they had to bundle up and other times, like Saturday, when short sleeves were the dress of the day.
It was a family tradition, started by her father, Ed Coryn, 68, who sells ice cream to fast food chains such as McDonald’s.
It is a tradition, said Coryn, that would not be complete without the requisite comestibles.
“Gotta have donuts,” he said. “And of course, scrammies,” which he explained are scrambled eggs with chedder cheese and bacon.
Oh, and of course the drinks.
Vodka and Blood Mary mix.
And plenty of champagne for mimosas.
“We have 12 bottles,” said Coryn. “But we have 36 people with us. No tailgate party would be complete without that.”