Tusk to Tail: Back to the ho-hum, tailgate-unfriendly Southwest Classic at Jerry’s World
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Every time I started to type this article it ended up as a complaint about playing the Southwest Classic against Texas A&M in Arlington. The neutral site series began in 2009, and it’s hard to still find any positives other than it should be a great game with the Aggies this year.
Coming off the close call with BMFP every Hog fan is hoping to get back another one of those games we dropped to the Aggies in Dallas for nine years in a row. I won’t lie, I’m really concerned about our secondary. As one of our crew pointed out, Petrino just left a great road map to all of our future opponents on how to beat the Hogs this season. I’m just hoping Barry has a few tricks left up his sleeve, as the talent seems to be lacking in the secondary to get enough stops against a determined passing attack.
The Southwest Classic, as you know, started as a non-conference showcase in Cowboys Stadium, the brand new football palace of America. All of the positives were listed as selling points to draw in the fans.
If I remember correctly, that first year had the largest attendance at 90,000 fans. We had a modest tailgate that year, but it wasn’t until year two of the Bobby Petrino era that our tailgates down there really grew for a few years. The game with the Aggies now averages about 68,000 or so fans, and it had been a while since we had a large, well-attended tailgate before last year’s a solid effort. This year looks like another small gathering.
Despite the positives, the idea of the game hasn’t lived up to the hype for the Razorback program, in my opinion. It hasn’t improved Arkansas’s recruiting in Texas. It takes away a possible home game on campus every other year. On the off year, it takes away a trip to an actual college campus, as opposed to beautiful Arlington. It’s September in Dallas, which is hot, and it’s the same opponent that they over charge for year after year.
Lastly, the stadium is restrictive with the tailgating rules in the lots around Jerry World. However, this year the restrictive hours could be a blessing, as it is forecast to be 96-97 degrees on Saturday.
For our crew, we are cutting back on our exposure to the elements. Perhaps it’s our age, or just being tired of the hot weather this summer or the limited crew we will have on hand, but we only look to be in the lot for a couple of hours on Saturday at best.
I’d suggest you use part of the day to see some sites, do some shopping, or find some neat new restaurants. As you all know, Dallas has all of that in (Kate) spades. One area of town that never disappoints in Deep Ellum, just east of downtown. There are a ton of restaurants and bars. One of our favorites in that area is Pecan Lodge BBQ. Be prepared to wait, but it’s well worth it.
North Park Mall is one of the best in the U.S. these days. It has every upscale store your wife will want to visit plus Eataly Dallas, which is one of the neatest Italian grocery dining experiences you will ever find.
As for tailgate tips this week, keep in mind the hours of liquor stores in the Dallas area. They close at 9 p.m. and don’t open again until 10 a.m. on Saturday. With a 6 p.m. kickoff, this is not as critical as an early game, but important to note.
With the extreme heat, plenty of water, Gatorade and sun screen will be needed as well as extra ice. One neat thing we have found this year is the ShooAway Fly Fan. These little battery-operated jewels spin with a holographic effect on the blades, which messes with the flies’ eyes and deters them. Three games in, these work and have been a big hit. You can find them on-line for a reasonable price.
Keep cool and cheer loud. Go Hogs, Beat Aggies!!
Editor’s note: Now in its 11th 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.