Tusk to Tail: From the post-4th and 25 miracle to the dark and mean ‘Death Valley’
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story by Dale Cullins
Editor’s note: Welcome to the fourth season of Tusk to Tail – 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. Members of the Tusk to Tail Team are Sean Casey, Jack Clark, Dale Cullins, Greg Houser, Craig May, David Rice and Mark Wagner. Tusk to Tail is managed by Talk Business & Politics. Legal representation is iffy at best and professional psychological help is typically ignored, if not mocked. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter — @TuskToTail
There is not much left to say after the win at Ole Miss. Nearly half a week after that victory, people are still discussing the 4th and 25 play and the guts, determination and never-say-die attitude displayed by Brandon Allen and his teammates. I was happy to have shared that game with my wife, daughter and closest friends.
Our tailgate will be headed to Baton Rouge this weekend, and Tusk to Tail has a plan. It is about 530 miles from Fayetteville which is a hard eight hours of driving, plus stops. The best route to take is Highway 65 south out of Arkansas through Tallulah down to Natchez. Once there, switch over to 61 and keep heading south. Watch the small towns for cops, but you should be able to keep up a good rate of speed for most of the route.
I’m having to marshal our resources and spread them out over several vehicles to maximize space and occupants. The first of our crew heads to New Orleans Thursday morning for a little pre-game rest and relaxation. Even more will head to NOLA that afternoon, and the remainder of us departs Friday morning, heading straight to Baton Rouge.
Not to be forgotten, Chris May is flying in early Saturday morning from Philadelphia to Baton Rouge. We will all hook up at our hotel and tailgate at a spot just off campus about 9 a.m. on Saturday. The spot is close enough to campus for a nice tailgate, a lot of traffic, and a short walk to the stadium.
Soon after the Hogs joined the conference, this game with LSU was moved to the Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving to spotlight the SEC on CBS. For most of the 90s the game didn’t mean much, but in the early 2000s, this game usually helped decide who would play in Atlanta for the SEC title. The golden Boot trophy was created at that time to ratchet up the interest between the two fan bases, as well.
2013 was the last time this game would be played on that Friday. As a result, only about half of Tusk to Tail has been in Baton Rouge’s formidable Tiger Stadium, nicknamed Death Valley, after dark. That one time was about five years back under Bobby Petrino, when the Iron Bowl was moved to our Friday time slot, pushing our game to Saturday. That game spilled into nighttime due to overtime which the Hogs lost, but it was a great experience. I guess Alabama coach Nick Saban didn’t like the Friday time slot, so it was given back to LSU and Arkansas until the series was moved up in the schedule.
Another first is that this game will be Tusk to Tail’s first tailgate on campus. We will take a couple of tents, purchase some local Cajun fare from a sports bar located next to our tailgate spot, and enjoy the day’s games on our TV. We have some LSU friends who have invited us to crash their tailgates, which we plan to do on our walk into the stadium. All in all it looks to be a great day, and finally even the weather looks to cooperate.
If you are going down, some Baton Rouge spots you might want to try on Friday night or Saturday lunch are the following:
• Walk On’s Sports Bar – far better than the average sports bar
• Chimes – another bar with great Cajun food
• Juban’s – nice seafood and Cajun restaurant
• Gino’s – neat Italian spot with a twist
• Mansur’s on the Boulevard – nice steakhouse
• Sammy’s Grill – great local food
This is shaping up to be a great weekend, and I feel like we know what we are getting with the Hogs now. This LSU team will play right into the strength of Arkansas’s not-so-great defense. Despite the presence of Heisman hopeful Leonard Fournette, I expect the Hogs to hold the LSU run game in check. If our defense holds Fournette to around 100 yards, the Razorbacks can win.
Go Hogs! Beat Tigers!