Tusk to Tail: Hoping for Razorback pride in ‘Red Stick’

Wow. What a season for the Hogs and for Tusk to Tail. We will most likely finish with only three wins, two to three fewer than most of us predicted.  It’s not so much the losses, but the way the Hogs have lost that makes it difficult to shoulder. 

Four of us have made each game of the 2013 campaign, and it gets harder to continue the trips after each loss, but we do. On Sunday and Monday you get the most questions from family and friends as to whether you are going to the next game. Once answered, some shake their heads and question your sanity, others admire the dedication. We, of course, still support the team, so by Tuesday we are finalizing the plans and starting to look forward to the road trip and time with our crew.

It takes about five-and-a-half hours from Little Rock to Baton Rouge. We like the quick route down 65 to Tallulah and then 61 down through Mississippi to Baton Rouge. The road is better and you can make better time. Being Thanksgiving night, we stay at a full service hotel that has a small bar. We can hang out there and watch the last of any football games that might be on. I think it is Texas Tech and Texas this year.

“Red Stick” or Baton Rouge is not one of your quaint college towns that you find around the Southeast. It is larger than Little Rock, but Baton Rouge is not an attractive city from the direction we drive. It has an industrial feel to it and an oily, petroleum aroma. Once downtown and on the Tigers’ beautiful and Spanish moss-covered campus, that smell dissipates and you begin to feel like you are on an SEC campus.

Tusk to Tail will not set up a tailgate this Friday. With only eight of us, we will go to a local sports bar known as Walk-On’s for lunch before the game, and then hit a few local tailgates we have been invited to visit near the stadium.

I’ve only been to one night game in Tiger Stadium and it was crazy loud. Not as loud as Bama in my opinion, but loud. With our annual LSU game being played for the last time on the Friday after Thanksgiving, I’m looking forward to another night game in “Death Valley” in 2015. This is my fourth day game in Baton Rouge, and like most early games on any college campus, the atmosphere is subdued. Things will pick up about an hour and a half before the game when the grounds start to fill up with tailgaters and the air fills with various delicious smells.

I’m sure being played the day after Thanksgiving makes it difficult for the students to get back in time to cause much of a ruckus. We will be cursed and assailed with the usual “Tiger Bait” by a number of people, but it’s not an unfriendly environment for the most part. We will be offered gumbo and beer from a good number of people and invited in to tailgate with them.

I don’t expected a win from the Hogs this week, but I do hope they play with some heart and Razorback Pride. Baton Rouge is always a fun trip and Tusk to Tail expects to make the most of it to close out 2013 on a positive note.

It is also important to note that the contract between the Razorbacks and War Memorial Stadium has been changed and extended. Starting in 2014, there will only be one game a year in Little Rock through 2018. Next year that game is Georgia, making the Bulldogs the 10th different SEC foe to play a game against the Hogs in Little Rock.

With the A&M game moving back to Dallas for the next decade, this announcement is not completely unexpected. Being a former Little Rock guy who moved to Fayetteville, I have a good perspective on this. Though it means more work for me, I think cutting down to one game at War Memorial is necessary. I would be in favor of keeping one non-conference game in Little Rock, but doubt that will happen once Mr. Long gets the Fayetteville stadium’s north end zone bowled in. There is just too much money to be gained by playing on campus.