Tusk to Tail: A 34-year history of hating on the Longhorns

Pat Green has a song called “Texas on My Mind.” It seems like Texas has been on the mind of most Hog fans all summer. It was already the game circled on most of our calendars. We also learned that our old SWC rival will be joining the SEC in 2025 along with Oklahoma.

Texas. Just the mention of the word boils the blood of most Razorback fans who are 40-plus years old. Just seeing burnt orange does the same thing. That color is not allowed to be used in my kids’ drawings. Just kidding … maybe.

Let’s hope the game lives up to the buildup. This game is set up to be the first since the north end zone was finished to have a full house, sold out, electric and insane atmosphere. The north end zone expansion was finished in 2019 before the final Chad Morris train wreck season. Crowds were scarce. And we had just 25% capacity last season during the pandemic.

We haven’t seen what this new car can do yet.

Time to take it out for a spin.

My first introduction to Texas was Oct. 17, 1981 when #1 Texas came into Fayetteville. They had just blasted Oklahoma 34-14 the week before in Dallas at the Red River shootout. They came to the hill riding high as a 6-point favorite. The Hogs were coming off a loss to TCU and Lou Holtz was not excited about going back home to play Texas. I’ll never forget Holtz’s quote.

“Coming home to play Texas is like coming home to your wife with lipstick on your collar. Sometimes, you might be better off not coming home.”

The Hogs jumped out to an early lead after Texas fumbled the first snap and Billy Ray Smith recovered. The Hogs scored quickly and often. I remember listening to it on the radio as dad and I could not get home fast enough to watch. The turnovers just kept coming from the Longhorns and the Hogs’ scoring never stopped. Arkansas rolled to a 42-11 legendary victory over the #1 Horns. The field goal posts and party went to Dickson.

My introduction to seeing second ranked Texas in person was Oct. 15, 1983 at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium. This was Holtz’s last season as the Head Hog. Our tickets were in the southeast corner of the stadium right next to the Texas band. I was 13 and remember how annoying their band was as they talked trash across the chain link fence between us. It was the first time I remember feeling hate toward another team. After hearing “Texas Fight” all day as they rolled us 31-3, there is no doubt this is the game where my passion to hate the Horns began.

There were plenty more opportunities.

• Oct. 17, 1987 at Little Rock
The one that hurt the most. Arkansas came in 4-1 and ranked #15. Texas was unranked, 2-3, and not very good. The Hogs were up 14-10 with 1:48 to go, and Texas had 56 yards to go for the win. Steve Atwater put a Steve Atwater hit on a Texas receiver early in the drive and the ball came loose. Four Hogs and a Longhorn jumped for it. All the Hogs were pointing that we had the ball, but the center for Texas somehow got downfield in the scrum to come out with it.

Texas had used their last timeout in the middle of the drive, but with the clock stopped on an incompletion with four seconds left, Coach Hatfield called a timeout. It gave the Longhorns time to draw up a play instead of hurrying against the play clock.

Texas QB Brett Stafford found Tony Jones over the middle between Atwater and two other Hogs for a 16-14 win. In four seconds, the deafening crowd went to stunned silence. I’ll never forget standing there in shock with the other fans, then walking out in dead silence with my dad and neighbor. Hatfield infamously opened his coach’s show the next day with scripture. “Jesus wept.”

• Oct. 21, 1989 in Fayetteville
It was homecoming on The Hill my sophomore year. The Hogs came into the game ranked #7 and undefeated. We led 14-13. Then the Horns scored 11 straight to go up 24-14. We scored on a Barry Foster run to make it 24-20 in the third quarter but that’s how it ended. We went down to Little Rock the next week and beat Houston in one of the best games I’ve ever seen in person, 45-39.

• Oct. 19, 1991 at Little Rock
This game was dubbed The Last Shootout, with the Hogs leaving the SWC for the SEC the following year. Jack Crowe’s Hogs were not very good but the crowd was. Gardnere was the QB for the Horns and had #10 on just like Stafford did in 1987 for Texas. But there would be no Texas magic this time. The Hogs held on 4th and 10 from the 50 with 0:30 left for a 14-13 win.

There have been more recent memories, good and bad.

• Jan. 1, 2000 at the Cotton Bowl, Dallas
There was an insane alumni party at the Adams Mark the night before. The next morning came early, and hangovers were everywhere. The thumping the Hogs put on Texas was the best cure.

• Sept. 13, 2003 at Austin, Texas
KATV dubbed the VHS tape they sold of this game Ambush in Austin. It was an early afternoon game with a heat index well over 105 degrees. Texas came in ranked #5. The Hogs got down 7-0 early and then went up 21-7 and never looked back on their way to a 38-28 upset. We partied on Austin’s famous 6th Street til the wee hours of Sunday morning. There were not a lot of Texas fans out that night, but Matthew McConaughey was. I saw him leaving as we were walking into a bar. Hog fans that were there said he was rude and pissed off. All right. All right. All right.

• Oct. 11, 2004 in Fayetteville
#8 Texas vs. the unranked Hogs. Houston Nutt vs. Mack Brown. Vince Young vs. Matt Jones. The Hogs were down 22-20, 3rd and 8 with 2:48 to go. Arkansas was in field goal range to possibly win. Matt Jones scrambles. Fumble. Game over.

• Dec. 29, 2014, Texas Bowl, Houston
I saw this one with Tusk to Tail. I had great club seats with my dad. It was the Hogs all day 31-7 and “Borderline erotic.”

These games just mean more.

Do I have to say it? Hell yes, I do. Beat the hell out of Texas!

Editor’s note: Now in its 10th year, Tusk to Tail is the sport of tailgating as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together sober and otherwise for more than a decade. The primary focus of Tusk to Tail will be to follow the Hogs through the fans’ perspective with their insightful, irreverent, smart-alecky and sometimes practical style. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter and Instagram, all @TuskToTail.

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