Tusk to Tail: For the first time in 20 years, the TTT crew will not travel with the Hogs

It was bound to happen sometime. For just the second time since 1999, no member of Tusk to Tail will be in the seats for a Razorback football game. We do have some friends attending in a professional capacity, but none of our crew bought a ticket to Alabama.

I first joined up with David and Craig for a Razorback road trip in 2002. We recruited a group of about 12 guys to jump in and join us for the six-overtime game against Tennessee in Knoxville. For some, that was the last trip any of them made. For others, it was the beginning of an addiction. Though the Hogs did not come out on top that time, it was a great game and gave us a taste of what fun it is to watch the Hogs in hostile territory.

That trip, including stops in Memphis for lunch on the way over and back, as well as some old school tailgating, was a blast. We started going to more and more, bringing more individuals into our web of fun as the years progressed. It became such a habit that there were years that if you didn’t attend all 12 games, you were the target of much ridicule and scorn from the others. Our wives warned the wives of other unsuspecting road trippers that they better be careful what they agreed to, because before you knew it, the fall would be gone and so would your husband.

We averaged 8-12 attendees for most trips, scratching the stadiums off our list like they were new craft beers on the wall at the Flying Saucer in downtown Little Rock.

For some games we flew, to others we drove. At this point, the only SEC stadiums we have not tailgated are Georgia and Florida. We went to Athens back in 2010 under Coach Bobby Petrino, but did not take our gear. We shall remedy that in Athens in two years, after we gear up for Notre Dame in 2020. I don’t ever see us doing a full-blown tailgate for Gainesville due to the long distance and quality bars near the stadium, but never say never. The Hogs go back in 2023, so you never know. If we have a team we think could win by then, I would travel for that.

That brings us to our current state of affairs.

As positive as we try to be with the team, the investment in time and money is too great to travel to T-Town for a beat down this week. For the past three trips, the games were not competitive and Tuscaloosa is not a particularly fun college town in which to spend a weekend. Hotels are overpriced and the food options are rather limited.

If we felt there was a chance for an upset, we would go, but let’s be honest. Even with a backup quarterback, Alabama can pick their score against this squad of Hogs. We’d rather spend the time with our families and watch from home or with some of the guys. It does feel odd not making this trip. I have not missed a Bama game in T-Town since 2003. I’m sure I’ll have a few regrets on Saturday morning, but it was the right call.

If you are going, you might consider a couple of less expensive options. Look at staying in Columbus, Miss. It’s a short drive over to Tuscaloosa on game day and with a night kick off, you will appreciate the short drive back after the game. The traffic is not bad either to or from the game. I can’t say you have a lot of food choices in Columbus, but you can always eat in Memphis or Greenville on the way over, or in Starkville since the Bulldogs will be in College Station. The rooms are affordable and there are quite a few new hotels to choose from.

We have also stayed in Birmingham on Tide weekends. It’s a bit of a longer drive, but you have some nice hotel options and loads of food options. However, you will want to leave earlier than you think to get to the game, and expect a long delay getting back. It would be as if the University of Arkansas had been placed in Conway, and 80% of the crowd drove to and from Little Rock to attend. Except you could double the traffic, as they pack the house with 102,000 or so, even for Arkansas.

For food options, the original Dreamland BBQ is in Tuscaloosa and although it is good, I think it is one of those places that is remembered more as a destination than for the quality of barbecue. For the money, I think you would be better off grabbing some Archibald’s BBQ. A few other spots are The Avenue Pub, Buffalo Phil’s, Rama Jama and City Café.

Be sure to check your list and happy tailgating. Pour one out for us.

Go Hogs, Beat Bama!

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.

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