Tusk to Tail: Are you ready for 1,286 miles of pure punishment?

Not since the erstwhile Hog recruit and aspiring scribe Vin Ascolese wrote of the Razorbacks “balls of steel” and of our purported desire to “end the competition’s life” on the gridiron have Arkansas football and the state of New Jersey been so intertwined, as this week Bret Bielema and his undefeated Razorbacks travel to Piscataway Township to take on the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.

It’s a rare trip to the Northeast United States for the Razorbacks, if not their coaches. Bielema after all recruited freshman quarterback Damon “Doo Wop” Mitchell from Egg Harbor City, N.J., and landed the centerpiece of his 2014 class Jermaine Eluemunor from nearby Scranton, Penn.

Rutgers should provide the toughest competition to date in what has so far been an inspiring inaugural season for the new head coach.

But if you’ve clicked on this column you likely aren’t worried about the challenge facing the football team. You know where they stand. You’re wondering if this is the end of the road for the Tusk To Tail crew.

After all, this is no day trip to The Grove in Oxford.

It’s not a friendly drive to Tuscaloosa.

It’s not even the grind-it-out haul to Rocky Top Tennessee.

This is 1,286 miles of pure punishment, and what most might consider a grand opportunity for Tusk To Tail to belly up to the bar at a local Buffalo Wild Wings and watch the 2:30 p.m. kickoff on ESPN for the first time in 15 seasons.

But Tusk to Tail is a new breed, and tailgating is their vice. And so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that every single regular member of the crew will be inside High Point Solutions Stadium this Saturday. And I couldn’t be happier to be hosting them.

Who am I? Well, I’ve chosen to write under the name of Sonny Corleone because I’m the brother of the Godfather (of Tailgating) Craig May.  I am a life-long, die-hard Hog fan living in Philadelphia, a short 90 minute drive from the Rutgers main campus. Typically I’m the one parachuting in to Fayetteville or Athens or Gainesville to take part in the Tusk To Tail experience. This time, they’re coming to me.

Our game week will include lots of sightseeing around the city of Philadelphia with its remarkable historical sites, great museums and world-class restaurants. There will be a Thursday night Tusk To Tail party in the Philly suburbs, plus Philadelphia Phillies baseball, and a gathering Saturday night at what is consistently recognized as America’s greatest sports bar, Chickie’s & Pete’s.

As for game day itself, well let’s just say the bar is about to be raised. Rumors are swirling of a last minute adjustment that would see Dale Cullins DRIVING from Northwest Arkansas with a full compliment of tailgating supplies in-tow. We’re evaluating locations near the stadium and are fully prepared to drop down right in the middle of the Scarlet Knight’s kingdom. After all, we’ve survived Death Valley in Baton Rouge and being heckled by South Central Los Angeles homeless people after a beating from USC. How bad can a parking lot full of Pauley D wannabes really be?

Whatever the set-up, we guarantee a full day of calling the Hogs and representing Arkansas with style and class. 1-0. Win the day.

And we’ll have a complete wrap up of our adventures in this space next week. Until then I’ll leave you with a passage that I think captures the passion and dedication of our fearless tailgating troubadours: “This here ladies and gentleman (sic) separates The Razorback (and Tusk To Tail) from the rest of the world,” Vin Ascolese (sort of) wrote. “Together we can not and won’t be stopped. WOO PIG SOOIE.”

UPDATE: Dale Cullins reports, “With the great expense of this endeavor and with no way to recoup those costs, we decided it best to continue our original plan and fly.  I could think of 25 reasons not to drive but only one good one to do it.  And that one good reason was very persuasive, but in the end, the cost just outweighed the potential for five hours of fun.”