Tusk to Tail: The decadence of Little Rock tailgating

“That whole thing,” I said, “will be jammed with people; fifty thousand or so, and most of them staggering drunk. It's a fantastic scene — thousands of people fainting, crying, copulating, trampling each other and fighting with broken whiskey bottles.”
The quote comes from Hunter S. Thompson’s 1970 "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved" article that began his Gonzo journalism career. Thompson later described the article as "falling down an elevator shaft and landing in a pool of mermaids." I think John L. Smith would agree, it seems oddly appropriate this season.

I’ve seen many a good man swallowed and regurgitated by the War Memorial golf course. Worse yet, some of us don’t even fall on dry land, spiraling waist-deep into the murky creek with only the sparking remnants of a 90s-era two-pound cell phone left to fend off whatever marine life was startled by our presence.

If the Florida-Georgia game is the “World’s Biggest Outdoor Cocktail Party” and The Grove at Ole Miss hosts elegant dinner parties with chandeliers, crystal, and silver, then think of our golf course as the kegger the kids threw while the parents were out of town. The portable hot tub someone brought to the 2010 LSU game only sealed this legacy.

I would say this is not your father’s tailgate, but this place has been hosting debauchery for eons. Odds are your dad once burned a couch or spun some donuts on the course after the Hogs routed Texas A &M back in ‘78.

For those of us who live in Little Rock, there is a stranger phenomenon: the parallel universe outside the golf course where vodka is not a breakfast beverage. Imagine seeing a man vomit on his shoes before going to your son’s soccer game. It tends to affect the pre-game small talk.

I’m not complaining. In fact, I think someone should organize a War Memorial golf tournament on the Sunday following Little Rock games, where participants scramble through the debris
“My ball is closer to the hole.”
“Yeah, but that body is in the way.”

Speaking of bodies, Kiero Small the wrecking ball has been put on the shelf following foot surgery. We wish the fan favorite a speedy and successful recovery.

Now onto our weekly predictions.

• Sean Casey
Key takeaways from last week: Our team needs more focus. There were too many fumbles, O-line wasn't physical enough, linebackers underperformed, and the defensive secondary must perform better (Tevin Mitchell, aka Dark Helmet, played well and was a bright spot in the secondary).
Final Score, Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas: Hogs win 38-28. Another lackluster performance.
Impact Player: Cobi Hamilton finishes the game, 104 yards receiving.
Pick the winner of these 2 games:
Florida at Texas A&M: aTm wins its first SEC game. They have guy cheerleaders.
Georgia at Missouri:
Mizzou wins its first SEC game, their fans proceed to tear down the goal posts (like the amateurs they are) and then declare Mizzou the SEC East Division Champs.

• Jack Clark
Key takeaways from last week: The main thing that I have taken away from the first week is that our fans need to relax. I had to turn off the radio this week because of upset fans complaining about this or that. If we hadn't put the ball on the ground, we'd have hung 70 on them.
Final Score, Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas: The Hogs WILL cover the spread quite handily this week. Ark 59, Other team 10
Impact Player: Tyler Wilson will throw for 450 yards and 5 TD's.
Pick the winner of these 2 games: Florida at Texas A&M, and Georgia at Missouri
Florida will beat aTm. However I like Missouri to win their first SEC game against Georgia.
Bonus prediction: I also predict that when Craig arrives at his tailgate spot on Saturday morning, I will already be there with a drink in hand.

• Dale Cullins
Key takeaways from last week: I want to see more intensity, more focus, fewer mistakes.
Final Score, Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas: Hogs 41, ULM 17
Impact Player: Jason Peacock. I hope he is hungry after sitting out last week.
Pick the winner of these 2 games:
Florida at Texas A & M: Florida's O is still struggling. I think Florida covers barely with D.
Georgia at Missouri: Have to go UGA, just think the D will be too much for MO.
Bonus prediction: We run out of Firefly sweet tea vodka by noon.

• Greg Houser
Key takeaways from last week: We need an actual secondary. I hope the D-line gives enough pressure. The secondary won’t have to give an A performance.
Final Score, Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas: 54-21
Impact Player: Dennis Johnson, with two phenomenal returns.
Pick the winner of these 2 games:
Florida at Texas A & M: Florida (a little more speed)
Georgia at Missouri: Georgia (big time)
Bonus prediction: Tailgate friend Todd gains 20 more pounds with the new baby and rips his Razorback pants.

• Craig May
Key takeaways from last week: The run blocking by the offensive line is a concern from the first game. Jacksonville State has one of the weaker defenses we will see all season and Knile Davis was only able to gain 70 yards.
Final Score, Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas: Arkansas 45, ULM 10
Impact Player: Brandon Mitchell. Look for ULM to blitz most of the game. Single coverage will provide lots of opportunities down the field for the Hog’s receivers.
Pick the winner of these 2 games:
Florida at Texas A&M: Texas A&M
Georgia at Missouri: Georgia

• David Rice
Key takeaways from last week: Who’s driving this thing? It was a nice gesture to let the players run onto the field without any coaches, but most people would like to know who is in charge. Marquel Who? Nate Holmes returning punts and Brandon Mitchell in the slot were better-than-adequate replacements. Fumbles, run blocking, pass defense, oh my! You’ve heard it all before. Man up, Hogs.
Final Score, Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas: Razorbacks roll, 56-13
Impact Player: Mekale McKay. You can’t teach 6-foot-6. He continues the tradition of young guys making themselves comfortable at War Memorial.
Pick the winner of these 2 games:
Florida at Texas A & M: Florida’s offense is not good enough to end the quarterback controversy, but their D is fast enough to silence A&M’s 12th man. Give me the Gators.
Georgia at Missouri: Have you seen the defenses of the Big XII? Me neither. Georgia wins going away.
Bonus prediction: My Hunter S. Thompson tribute concept is met with mixed reviews.

• Mark Wagner
Key takeaways from last week: O-line needs to play better. When Knile can't score from the 1 on two plays, then the holes aren't there. Our linebackers need to step up. Too much inexperience. We miss Mr. (Jerry) Franklin.
Final Score, Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas: Arkansas 57, LA Monroe 21
Impact Player: Tie – Dennis Johnson, Brandon Mitchell, & Darius Winston. Knile won't show up until fourth game of the season so Dennis is the man, and Cobi will be slow on coming back and Mitchell will pick up where he left off. Winston is in there because if they keep playing him, the other team will score points and rack up passing yards. That is what I call an impact player.
Pick the winner of these 2 games: Florida at Texas A&M, and Georgia at Missouri
Florida and Georgia. Newcomers get welcomed to the SEC.
Bonus prediction: I predict that I will take someone’s picture without David getting their name. I predict I won't be last with my predictions this week, so I don't have to buy any donuts. I predict that most of my predictions are wrong.

• The man Mulcahey (Note: Mulcahey is the consigliere to Tusk to Tail’s Godfather of Tailgating. Wishing to remain anonymous, yet snarky, he weighs in on some of our weekly picks.)
Hogs win, 45-17.
Go with Mo and Florida in their games.
Bonus prediction: By 2 p.m., a young person will have lofted or kicked a football from the tee box into our food. By 3 p.m., people will be wondering just how late Jack will be. By 4 p.m., Mulcahey will realize that the bathroom lines have grown to 15 deep at the port-o-lets. Knowing it will be at least a 40 minute wait, he will panic and figure out a less modest solution. By 5 p.m., the Godfather will start moving toward the stadium for fear of missing the kickoff. After a long day of tailgating, he will need plenty of breaks during that long 30 yard walk. Everyone will come home with goose poop on their shoes since the burns park geese have relocated to Burns Park. Despite numerous kickoffs, ULM’s kick returner will have 0 return yards and a dirty knee from all of the touchbacks. Rasner will tackle himself after he intercepts a pass. He just won't be able to help himself.