Tusk to Tail: Pining for another ‘Miracle on Markham’

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin' high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
"We'll meet on edges soon" said I
Proud 'neath heated brow
Ahh, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that, now
– “My Back Pages,” by Bob Dylan

As we draw closer to the end of the 2013 Razorback football season, and the last home game is this weekend against the cowbell loving-Bulldogs, I felt compelled to take a moment and reflect back.

The house where I grew up was only about a mile and a half from Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium. I remember as a little boy hearing the roar of the crowd when one of my Razorback heroes did something spectacular. It could have been Lance Alworth scoring a touchdown, or Light Horse Harry Jones breaking tackles as he headed for the end zone. The cheers would roll through the neighborhood.

And then the magical day occurred. Dad got an extra ticket so I could see the Hogs play the Texas Longhorns. Being only four, I didn’t realize until many years later how that game would influence the way I watched football for the rest of my life. There were about 40,000 people at the game. It was the biggest mass of people I had ever seen in one place. Basically what got hammered into my football DNA at that game was that I would always cheer for the Razorbacks and for whoever was playing Texas. We lost that game 12-13 which only caused me to hate the Longhorns more.

That was the first memory, but there have been so many great ones in Little Rock:
• Arkansas avenged the prior year’s loss as Dennis “Dirt” Winston made 19 tackles (11 unassisted) when the Hogs defeated USC 22-7 in 1974.

• Arkansas and Quinn Grovey outdueled Andre Ware and the Houston Cougars to win The Little Rock shootout 45-39 in 1989.

• DeCori Birmingham caught a touchdown pass from Matt Jones in the final seconds of a 21-20 win against LSU in 2002’s “Miracle on Markham,” earning the Hogs a trip to the SEC Championship game.

• And then there was the second “Miracle on Markham” as Casey Dick passed 24 yards to London Crawford on a fourth-and-1 to beat LSU 31-30 for the victory.

But enough with waxing nostalgic.

The other wonderful memory I will always have from the Little Rock games is the tailgating that occurs on the golf course. The games in Little Rock were the genesis of the modern day Tusk to Tail. From the humble origins of sitting in the bed of a pick-up truck with a six pack of beer, to the well-oiled John Daly-drinking encampment we are today, the tailgating machine that is Tusk to Tail owes its origins to the golf course in Little Rock.

Tusk to Tail has a Little Rock Chapter that puts on a feast for every game we play in the Rock. Jamey, Jordan, and Jarrod Johnson, along with Jason Parker and our own Craig May pull out all the stops. The smoked pork butt and venison sausage is enough that it’ll make you come back year after year.

Now, we face Mississippi State this Saturday. It is realistically the best odds the Hogs have to win a SEC game this year. I hope everyone who is a fan of the Hogs shows up to cheer them on.

As you may have guessed by now, the games in Little Rock have a special meaning to me. I’ll let other people argue the Great Stadium debate. Realistically I think the Hogs will eventually quit playing games in Little Rock. If and when that occurs, it will be a great loss to me and to the program.

Who knows? There may be some four-year-old standing on his porch hearing the crowd cheer and roar as the Hogs beat the Dawgs. I’d hate to take that away from anyone.

Ahh, but I was so much older then
I'm younger than that, now