Tusk to Tail: Bring on the neck braces for a big Hog win in ‘The Character Bowl’

If the Bobby Petrino scandal had never happened and Petrino was not fired in 2012, do you think the Arkansas football program would be better, worse, or the same as it is today? Would Petrino still be coaching at Arkansas?

Willard: Only two of America’s top college football programs – Alabama and Clemson – have gone without a coaching change since the day Bobby Petrino was fired at Arkansas (April 10, 2012 to be exact, or as I call it “Black Tuesday”). Eleven have turned over their head coaching position multiple times, including Oregon (four times), Texas, Florida, Tennessee, Nebraska, USC and Miami (three times each), and Oklahoma, Florida State, LSU, and Auburn (twice each). The head jobs at Ohio State, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Michigan, and Penn State also came open in that stretch. Would any of them have hired post-2012, reputation-in-tatters Bobby Petrino? No way. But erase the scandal and add another season or two of double-digit wins at Arkansas to his resume, and it’s a safe bet to say Bobby wouldn’t have grown old in Fayetteville. Would the program be what it is today had he stayed? I think success breeds success. But we’ll never know for sure.

Todd: There are two defining moments in Razorback football history. First, what if Frank Broyles doesn’t get Jack Crowe off of Coach Hatfield’s plane heading to Clemson and offer him the job out of spite? The second moment was when Bobby Petrino sat across from Jeff Long and had the opportunity to tell the truth about his affair with Jessica Dorrell. Long already knew what happened and Petrino probably knew that Long knew. Yet he still chose to lie. I think the Hogs would have definitely been good in 2012. After that, we saw he had gotten lazy in recruiting, especially on the defensive side of the ball. I do think we would have been a top 25 program more consistently. But knowing Petrino, I think he ultimately would have left at some point for a higher profile job. Would Petrino have been a coach that Hunter Yurachek would have hired or kept, knowing his character and the way he treated people in the athletic department, grad assistants, and just people in general? Absolutely not.

Missouri State @ #10 Arkansas
Willard: After two grind-it-out wins against two physical teams, the Hogs needed an FCS opponent in town. The Bears have an elusive quarterback and a genius head coach, but they shouldn’t be able to physically match-up with Arkansas. The Top 10 Razorbacks run wild on the ground and win 56-24.

Todd: The Character Bowl. Good character vs. Bad Character. Sam Pittman vs. Bobby Petrino. Walmart is sold out of neck braces. The Hogs are ranked 10th in the country at 2-0. Get your popcorn ready. It should be a circus atmosphere with the former coach coming in. The Bears have a QB slinger in Jason Kelly who came to Missouri State via Utah and Utah State. He’s thrown close to 600 yards in 2 games. KJ Jefferson has thrown for 385 with an impressive 77% completion percentage. The Bears just don’t have the offensive or defensive lines to do anything of major concern against the Razorbacks. This one is for all the people who worked for Bobby in the Broyles Complex to the grad assistants that he used to treat like garbage. The Hogs didn’t come to paint. 48-14 Arkansas.

Greg: Are we cool as a fan base to see neck braces and volleyball jerseys scattered throughout the stadium? Why not? We know that KJ should hand it off comfortably and let the trenches do their thing. Maybe add a few more passes downfield to let those in the fan base that need to process their grieving do it one last time. I think it’s a bit tacky, but I won’t judge those who pour their heart and wallet into the Razorbacks. Hogs by 24.

#1 Georgia @ South Carolina
Willard: I’m still flabbergasted that Georgia has a quarterback named Stetson Bennett IV. But he’s a winner. Dogs beat the ‘Cocks 42-7.

#12 BYU @ #25 Oregon
Greg: BYU should be better in the trenches. Oregon at home will look for blood, though. I’ll take Oregon with special teams play and some “trickeration.” Ducks by a field goal.

#22 Penn State @ Auburn
Greg: My, how quickly an SEC team can fall. With all that talent in a 400-mile radius of Auburn, it truly does come down to the coach and culture of a team. I have no idea what kind of identity the Tigers want to have. Having said that, I’ve seen Penn State coach James Franklin blow some “easy” games. The least mistakes and W go to the Nittany Kitties by a TD. Take the under as well.

Todd: Penn State could not run the ball on Purdue, so don’t look for them to be able to run on Auburn’s defense. The Nittany Lions will have to win this one in the air on the plains of Auburn. There’s just absolutely no way I can pick Auburn as long as TJ Finley is their quarterback. PSU 27-23

Mississippi State @ LSU
Willard: This will be a fun game under the lights at Death Valley. It’s the SEC’s weirdest coach (Mike Leach) against the league’s weirdest fit (Brian Kelly). Expect a high scoring affair. I think the Bulldogs will be ready to play and win 44-39.

#13 Miami @ #24 Texas A&M
Greg: I have so many questions for the weirdest football school it’s not even funny. Does Jimbo hand over play calling? Do the Aggies let some 5-star freshman get some action to shuffle the deck? Does the Aggie fanbase show up for this game Saturday? How many Aggie fans are denying their attendance at midnight yell practice? How many times are the cadets going to rack themselves? For those readers not aware of the ridiculousness of Aggie football, just spend a few minutes on the internet. You’ll get more than what you bargained for. I’ll take the U on the road only because … well hell, read the above paragraph.

Todd: The Aggies have been the nation’s punchline all week in the college football world. And how can it not be after losing to App State. A&M gave Jimbo Fisher an extension in the offseason that doubled his buyout to over $90 million dollars. For what? Getting to 8 wins again? Aggies gonna Aggie. Now the 13th ranked Canes come to town. They are a little better than App State. If Miami gets up early lookout, because A&M has not shown they have a running game yet. As much as I want to pick the Canes I think A&M pulls out a tough one at home. Aggies 24-21

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.

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