Tusk to Tail: Carrying hope and despair into Death Valley
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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
– Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities
I really couldn’t say it any clearer or sum up the Hogs current predicament any better than those opening lines from a wonderful story from the great Charles Dickens.
The firing of Chad Morris 22 games into his tenure had to be done. The Hogs were losing ground and not playing for the coach, for the helmet, or worst of all, for each other. Fans, including me, would not have been writing checks for thousands of dollars to watch this team run onto the field next year. There was no entertainment in it.
I think Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek said it best when he explained that the football program had to put a competitive product on the field. It didn’t have to win each week, but they needed to compete. We were not seeing that. Every other coach hired at the same time as Morris is showing improvement. I think the Hogs had started to regress just as last year. It was time.
The Hogs have two games left this season and yet again, the men of Tusk to Tail have decided to not throw a tailgate in Baton Rouge. We have sold our tickets and will let Mark carry the flag for us down to Red Stick on his own. Though it was tempting to perhaps make a weekend of it in New Orleans, the late kickoff put a damper on that. The game takes a night on the town away, which might be the only reason you would make the trip for a team up against a 46.5-point spread.
The crowd in Death Valley will be in a feeding frenzy, and those fans can be brutal. However, I would not be surprised to hear they showed some mercy on the fans that do show. If that includes you, just go with the flow. Don’t let the ribbing and catcalls of “Tiger Bait” rub you the wrong way, or it might just get ugly for you. We’ve always found that if you go along, stay positive and just support your team, not only will you be respected, you will be invited in to tailgate with the locals and sample some of the tasty food on hand.
Speaking of which, this is a good opportunity to let you know that the food is one of the reasons you make the trip to Louisiana. In the stadium, which is one of the worst in the SEC, you have your usual fare of hot dogs and hamburgers. More importantly, they have some great Cajun food vendors. There is nothing better than some red beans and rice or jambalaya to soak up a day’s worth of beer.
For your travels, we always try to stop in Lake Village at Rhoda’s Hot Tamale shop for an early lunch at 11 and then hit the road. Taking Highway 65 on down to Tallulah and Ferriday, 98 over to Natchez and then 61 on down to Baton Rouge. You can make good time but be careful, we’ve had our share of tickets on 65 around the state line in the past.
Some great spots to hit up in Baton Rouge include The Chimes, Walk On’s Sports Bar, TJ’s Ribs, Juban’s, Gino’s, Sammy’s and Mansurs. Walk On’s is close to campus, so if you plan to go there on Saturday, know that they open early and go early. They have great food and lots of TVs, creating an excellent place to spend the day if you don’t have a tailgate to attend.
Next week will be the first game in Little Rock against Missouri and the last game of the year for this season’s Hogs. I hope everyone will try to make it out despite the team’s record. The boys can use your support and it is senior day for some of these fellas even if they already did the pronouncements a couple of weeks ago in Fayetteville.
Jamey Johnson and his sons along with Craig May and Jason Parker will be in charge of the tailgate on the golf course in Little Rock, but I’ll be there to help where I can. I have always enjoyed these Friday games in Little Rock and I’m glad they found a way to bring them back. Perhaps this team can find something inside themselves and compete like we know they can.
Until next year, Go Hogs, Beat Tigers and then Beat More Tigers!
Editor’s note: Now in its eighth 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. Tusk to Tail sponsors are the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship program and Turn Key Construction Management. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter and Instagram, all @TuskToTail.