story by David Rice
Editor’s note: Welcome to Tusk to Tail, a special “web reality” presentation of the tailgating experience as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together 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. Link here for the explainer story and the photos and “stats” of the core Tusk to Tail crew. Tusk to Tail is managed by The City Wire and sponsored by Preferred Office Products.
Follow the crew on Twitter — @TuskToTail
Did you see John L. Smith’s halftime interview last week? It is rare that I see our coach share wisdom while jogging with Tracy Wolfson, since I cannot recall ever leaving a game before halftime. But when a team puts that kind of whipping on us, in the rain, and across the street from our fully stocked bar and dual big screen HD TVs, well ... whoever created the term “fair-weather fan” must have seen the future, and the future was Tusk to Tail.
I will have to paraphrase the interview since A) I did not have my notepad handy, and B) I was 35% drunk, but here is what I recall:
Tracy Wolfson (paraphrased): You are getting run off the field. How will you adjust at halftime?
John L. Smith (damned near verbatim): We will not change a thing.
TW(p): Your players’ heads are sure to be hanging when they get in the locker room. How do you pick them back up?
JLS (dnv): You take ‘em by the chin and you slap ‘em! You gotta slap ‘em back up until they respond! Hoo hah!!
It is quite possible that I imagined the “hoo hah” part. I might have even said it myself while shooting whiskey bottles off my son’s head.
But assuming I heard everything else correctly (always a risky assumption considering I saw a truckload worth of Aquanet in hair metal bands at Barton Coliseum back in the day), the message is as follows, in reverse order:
1. The beatings will continue until morale improves.
2. Don’t change/ Keep on keeping on/ Stay golden, Pony Boy.
To compound the first point, rumors ran rampant after the game that Smith had been fired or reassigned. The rumor made sense because anytime you can get an interim interim lame duck coach for eight weeks, you have to pull the trigger, right? Nothing fires up a team like, “Hey guys, I applied for this job 17 times, but they finally got it right.”
Following Monday’s press conference, I am absolutely convinced that Smith knows he won’t be fired, or does not care if he is. If I could bet on things like “Coach removes pants on sideline while eating pizza,” I’d lay the mortgage for the right odds.
That second point is where the rubber hits the road. We were upset that the neighbor Greasers got the memo before us. You would think that our chevron tablecloths earned us something. But if resisting change is what the coach wants, then we shall literally party like it is 1999.
For what it’s worth, the official team slogan that year was “Nuttin’ but fun.” Hoo hah, indeed.
On with the predictions. Here is what was asked this week:
1. Final Score: Rutgers @ Arkansas
2. Razorbacks impact player, and why
3. Guess the total announced attendance
4. Tyler Wilson is getting national scrutiny for calling out his teammates after the Bama loss. What is your opinion? Did he show leadership or immaturity?
5. Predict the winner (with score): Missouri @ South Carolina
6. Rather than piling on the Hogs, make fun of some other team here
1. Score: Arkansas 31 Rutgers 24
2. Impact Player: Tyler Wilson. He is the team leader, he makes those around him better.
3. 69,746 in attendance
4. Opinion regarding Tyler Wilson’s post-game speech: I don’t know his motivation for speaking or making the statements. Was it to motivate teammates to improve performance, or was the intent to express his frustration? I do believe Wilson was being honest.
5. USCe wins the first Battle of Columbia, 32-17.
• Jack Clark
1. Score: Hogs 21, Scarlet Knights 20
2. Impact player: Ronnie Wingo. He has 2 carries for 4 yards, 1 fumble, and drops a pass. All of this will happen in our first possession.
3. Attendance: 62,000. Knights will bring 200 fans. A portable tanning booth will be set up just outside the stadium.
4. Opinion regarding Tyler Wilson’s post-game speech: “That’s a clown question, bro.”
5. Missouri 14, USC 31
6. I'm too ashamed to make fun of any other teams right now. Pot, meet kettle.
• Dale Cullins
1. Score: If Tyler plays, Hogs 24, Rutgers 21. Without him, Hogs lose 28-10
2. Impact player: I can only hope Knile Davis continues to run hard and makes some plays
3. Attendance: Great weather should help, lets go 70,354
4. Opinion regarding Tyler Wilson’s post-game speech: I was just glad to see someone was angry about what has befallen this team. Didn't mind it at all.
5. SC 31, MO 24
6. Wow, not sure we have room to make fun of anyone at this juncture. To start off at number 8 and to have fallen as far as we have? Pitiful.
Bonus: Some Jersey fans stop by the tailgate, ask for a beer, and I tell them to "Fuhgeddabout it!"
• Greg Houser
1. Score: Arkansas wins 35-21
2. Impact player: Cobi Hamilton. Wilson gets Cobi to live up to expectations.
3. Attendance: 70,500
4. Opinion regarding Tyler Wilson’s post-game speech: He showed frustration. He still has the respect of all his players, but it was a lapse in judgment. Razorbacks will have to grind every win this year.
5. Missouri @ South Carolina: South Carolina by 14. I would love for Mizzou to fully appreciate what the SEC is ALL YEAR LONG!
6. Rather than piling on the Hogs, make fun of some other team: What the heck happened to the U (Miami)? There is so much talent in South Florida, even Gerry DiNardo could pull off 9 wins a year.
Bonus: I predict our godfather Craig will be approached by two men in Nike jumpsuits with huge gold medallions on their neck. They will want to question him privately about his moniker and we will not hear from him again until the 6 o'clock news. Nice knowing you Craig!
• Craig May
1. Score: Ark 28, Rutgers 24
2. Impact player: Knile Davis. 16 rushes for 110 yards and 1 Touchdown
3. Attendance: 65,320
4. Opinion regarding Tyler Wilson’s post-game speech: Tyler Wilson has been the leader of this team since Petrino ran his bike into the ditch last April. He showed a lot of heart and spoke the truth at the press conference after the Alabama game. It probably upset some of his teammates, and some fans probably didn’t like what they heard, but sometimes the truth hurts. Saturday will be gut check for this team, lets hope they respond with the same amount of determination that Tyler showed last Saturday after watching one of the worst loses in our programs history.
5. South Carolina 28 Missouri 14
• David Rice
1. Score: Arkansas 51, Magoos 00
2. Impact player: Autumnal Equinox earns a letter today.
3. Attendance: 69,314
4. Opinion regarding Tyler Wilson’s post-game speech: They built a statue for Tebow for a similar speech. Of course he actually played that day, and never said the word “sucks.” I’m still glad to see some leadership on the sideline. Shine on you concussed diamond.
5. Missouri @ South Carolina: Defensive speed continues to make the Tigers’ heads spin. 31-20, SC
6. Florida State is back in the national title hunt. Last week was their home conference opener. 14,000 fans painted their chests to look like empty seats. LOL ACC
Bonus: I miss another half of football to sing Guns n’ Roses covers with Sara Morgan and Jason North.
• Mark Wagner
1. Arkansas 20 - Rutgers 17
2. Impact player: Everything we do is based on how well the offensive line plays. So they are my impact player. If they show up and play well we win, if they don't we lose, regardless of who the QB is.
3. Attendance 60,000 – only because the weather is supposed to be great.
4. Opinion regarding Tyler Wilson’s post-game speech: Wilson showed both leadership and immaturity. He should have gotten his message across to the team in the locker room. You don't go public with that. As far as addressing the public, it showed leadership, because non of the coaching staff is showing any, but the message should have been different. Didn't have to be a cliche, but don't call your teammates out publicly. I do agree with everything he said, but I'm not the one blocking for him.
5. South Carolina gets all over Mo. USCe 31 - Mo - 14
6. I will not make fun of a team, but a conference, the Big East. They have lost Pitt, West Virginia, and Syracuse. TCU has backed out and Notre Dame won't commit.
Bonus predictions: JLS will say something after the game that will be an embarrassment for most Razorback fans. Whoever Long hires, he will have at least 50% of the fan base initially upset with him.
• Father Mulcahey
1. 24-21 Hogs
2. Wilson the impact player.
3, 67,000 attendance
4. Opinion regarding Tyler Wilson’s post-game speech: Wilson needed to say at least something similar, but should have kept it in the locker room. Hogs suffering from lack of leadership though, so I can understand.
5. South Carolina by 21
Bonus: I know Vandy didn't want to end up like the Hogs, but a beat down of the Presbyterian Blue Hose? What's the point? When the son of a Tusk to Tailgater heard Presbyterian were the Blue Hose, he asked, “What is a Blue Ho?” Point, child.
Post Bama observation: An Arkansas fan who booked a room at the Tide team hotel noticed Saban walking to the team breakfast. The Arkansan later remarked that even when Saban was going to breakfast, the head coach walked like he knew what he is doing.
For the first time this season, the tailgate crowd starts to dwindle and act downtrodden. Craig May calls out the tailgaters and tells them to be better fans. Jack Clark finishes the rant by asking everyone to smile. David Rice removes his pants and eats pizza.