Tusk to Tail: Back in Little Rock with tailgate friends and early cocktails

This is year two of the new War Memorial agreement where the Hogs play a game in Little Rock and then skip a year. The skip was supposed to be last season, but due to COVID, there were no off campus games.

Arkansas had originally planned to play Missouri in Little Rock this year, but with only two other conference games scheduled for Fayetteville, the Hogs swapped Mizzou with Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Turns out, that was really fortunate. The Hogs are pretty banged up heading into this week, and could use a bit of a breather before actually the bye week next week.

As fans we can afford to overlook UAPB, but I trust Pittman will have the kids focused enough to get the Hogs to 5-3 come 2 p.m. on Saturday. Well, he’d better anyway.

Coach Muss already has Hog fans starting to flirt with basketball season. A loss to the Golden Lions would all but ensure the fan base turning the page to what looks like a promising basketball season.

It was cool and rainy when Arkansas last played in Little Rock back in 2019 against Missouri. Barry Lunney Jr. was the interim coach after Chad Morris was fired. The Hogs put up a good fight, but when the Hogs lost starting QB Jack Lindsey (did this really happen?) to injury, it all but sealed their fate and that of Coach Lunney. The loss sent Lunney to Texas-San Antonio and Hunter Yurachek on the road to land a new head football coach in Sam Pittman.

The weather looks nice for this Saturday. A cool start will warm up to a nice 81 degrees by the end of the game. Being the fourth straight 11 a.m. game isn’t that bad for the team I suppose, but it’s taking it’s toll on the fans, at least those of us who enjoy a good tailgate.

If you are attending the game in Little Rock and plan on tailgating, I’m sure you are aware of the rules. There are some reserved spaces, but the majority of the old golf course is first come, first served. Tusk to Tail has three reserved spaces that we have had for close to 20 years now. It’s nice, our friends and family know where to find us, and we know the ins and outs of our spot. We line up no later than 5:30 a.m. to be sure we aren’t waiting in line any longer than necessary. We will usually have it all up and running by 6:30 to 7 a.m.

Just like last week in Fayetteville, it will be a basic setup this Saturday. We will have a single TV to watch College Game Day on, your usual breakfast foods, and a lot of morning cocktails. Jamey Johnson does the vast majority of the tailgate planning, cooking and logistics work for the games in Little Rock. Jamey is the father of Jordan and Jarrod Johnson.

Craig, David and I met Jordan in 2001. The tailgate coalesced soon after with the help of the Johnsons and Jordan’s old college roommate Jason Parker. Everyone has their own set of skills and responsibilities to add to the circus, but that is what makes any given tailgate crew special. It becomes a bit of an extended family. The lack of games in Little Rock has taken some of that away, but once the first drink is poured, things should pick back up like we had been out on that golf course four weeks in a row.

With Ole Miss and LSU playing at 2:30 p.m., that at least offers a bit of something to watch back at the tent after the game. The only bad part is that the city is trying to limit post game activities to two hours after the finish of the game. After that, it will be 2023 before we get to enjoy the War Memorial Stadium and former golf course again.

It’s been a nice tradition. I think anyone from Central Arkansas would like to see the tradition continue, but only Hunter knows if it will.

Go Hogs, Beat Lions!

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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