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
“You’re really going? Wow!”
This was the reaction Tusk to Tail’s Godfather of Tailgating received around the turn of the century when his streak of consecutive games had begun to reach double digits. It was a different era, to be sure.
Investment bubbles hadn’t burst, and our lifestyles of the highly leveraged were cruising. Still, this was absurd.
Craig May, the godfather, was hosting New Year’s Eve parties in Little Rock, then standing front-and-center at the Cotton Bowl’s 10 a.m. kickoff in Dallas on New Year’s Day 2000.
You do the math, and subtract time for sobering up, driving, and sleeping, and you may start to understand the Godfather moniker.
And we haven’t even begun to consider the potential impact of Y2K.
In 2005, Craig flew to Los Angeles to see the Razorbacks get squashed 70-17 one week, then drove to Tuscaloosa to see the pre-Saban Tide win 24-13 the next.
Strangely, this combined 94-30 pair of pastings have both been vacated by the winners, due to another new age wrinkle: cheaters were still adapting to the digital thumbprints they were leaving behind. I have yet to ask Craig if he was able to vacate any existential “Why do I keep doing this?” feelings from those long trips home.
94-30 sounds heavenly following our recent 110-10 slide in the past two conference games. We’re obviously beyond rhetoric like, “Just a few more plays and we’re right back in this thing.” Could John L. Smith be the first coach to actually tell his team that if things go their way, they may get some vacated wins? Anything seems possible at this point.
Which leads us back to this: “You’re really going? Wow!”
The only difference is that a former sense of respect has given way to outright astonishment. The casual viewer can turn off the television when Texas A&M goes up 58-10. Imagine holding a pocket full of $90 tickets in the rain.
Tusk to Tail will press on, regardless. Assuming he makes it through the turnstiles, the Godfather is riding a streak of 88 straight, and 168 of the past 169 games. To put that in perspective, Tusk to Tailgater Jack Clark’s second place streak will come to an end this week after 45 games. Jack has not missed a game since 2009. Craig predates him by a full 10 years.
And yet May’s streak almost came to a close as well. Believe it or not, real life still comes first. Tusk to Tail saw it firsthand as May’s mother Beverly underwent surgery this week. Thankfully the results were favorable, but if not, Craig’s streak would be past tense. Here is wishing a quick and painless recovery to our unofficial Team Mom.
Let’s move along to the predictions.
• Predict the final score, Arkansas at Auburn:
Sean Casey: Hogs 45 Auburn 42. Helluva pillow fight.
Jack Clark: Auburn 17, Hogs 10. The referees enjoy another Saturday without Bobby Petrino barking in their ears and the Tigers get ALL the calls.
Dale Cullins: I feel like we have a chance this week, Ark 21, AU 17
Greg Houser: 28, 17 Auburn
Craig May: Auburn 24 ,Arkansas 17
David Rice: Tough call. Chizik may have revenge on his mind, but are they good enough to pull it off? I’ll take the Razorbacks 27-24.
Mark Wagner: Arkansas 10, Auburn 27
Father Mulcahey: I can't pick against Hogs, but confident it can't be as bad as last week ... right?
• Who is the Razorbacks impact player, and why?
SC: Jonathan Williams. Since DJ only gets 5 carries game, Jonathan Williams gets the other carries and rushes for 108 yards and a touchdown. Runner up: Auburn's defensive secondary.
JC: Penn Wagers, head ref for the game, is interviewed at halftime and comments on how he likes the "new, kinder, gentler Razorback coaching staff."
DC: Cobi Hamilton. Another good week for him, 8 catches for 215 yards.
GH: Austin Flynn. Auburn's offense is weak enough that he gets 2 sacks.
CM: Dylan Breeding. He brings his practice to the game every week.
DR: Tyler Wilson’s career debuted here two years ago. This week’s game adds to his highlight reel.
MW: Knile Davis. He hangs onto the ball this week and gets over 100 yards. I would have said Ronnie Wingo, but for some reason Tyler Wilson seems to ignore him.
FM: If we can limit the turnovers, I expect our faithful punter to make the difference, especially when you consider Auburn's offense.
• Where (and when) is John L. Smith's next job?
SC: Alabama Department of Tourism.
JC: John L. Smith becomes regional manager for the Sunglass Hut.
DC: I am sorry to say this will be the end of the line for JLS' coaching days.
GH: Wal-Mart greeter seems like a very pleasant job. You get to say hi to everybody!
CM: JLS will become a sports agent. He’s already actively soliciting the QB’s from ULM, Alabama and Texas A&M. Will Auburns QB be next?
DR: It seems inevitable that Bobby Petrino is coaching again next year. Don’t you think he would take most of this staff with him?
MW: JLS next job will be doing commercials for the Weight Loss Center saying, "Oooh, are you getting too big for these britches?"
FM: Wal-Mart greeter or assistant to the photographer.
• Care to re-revise your projected season record? What do you think it would have been if Petrino were still the head coach?
SC: 3-9. We have a chance to beat Auburn, Tulsa and Ole Miss. I just threw up from typing that.
DC: At this point we are looking at 3-9 if we are lucky but I could see us going 5-7 if we start playing better. I would say that as bad as the D is playing that even CBP would have struggled, maybe 7-5 if he was still the head man.
GH: 11-1 if Bobby were still here. The best coaches are not your best friends. Nick Saban, Chip Kelly & so on. The funny thing is I'm also talking about the assistant coaches. When the cat’s away, the mice play.
CM: Revised records 4-8. If Petrino was still the coach we would be looking at a 7-5 season. Way too many injuries to do much better than that.
DR: I would not be surprised if we failed to win another game, but I also picked us to win this weekend. This season is messing with my head. I’ll revise the record to 3-9 and say it would have been 8-4 under Petrino.
MW: 3-9 (and I'm being an optimist).
FM: Can anyone feel good about the rest of the season? I can't force myself to imagine this season with Petrino. Too depressing.
• Pick the winners, LSU at Florida and Georgia at South Carolina.
SC: LSU over FL. USCe beats UGA, narrowly. This should be a good game to watch.
JC: I'll go with the Gators. I despise LSU. Florida 18-LSU 17. Georgia beats USC-east
DC: I'm going Florida. LSU will struggle with O on the road. FL 17-10 The Ole Ball Coach is having trouble with his O as well. UGA 31-17
GH: Florida (I hope!!). Never a fan of LSU. It is easy, however, to see how LSU fans are so passionate. Louisiana is not the most picturesque of states. Might as well look forward to something! Georgia wins also. It's about time Mark Richt puts things together for the Dogs.
CM: USC over Georgia, FL over LSU.
DR: I’m taking the home team in both. Florida and South Carolina win.
MW: LSU beats Florida and South Carolina beats Georgia. Why you ask? Because I said so!
FM: I will go with Georgia and Florida
• Bonus predictions and closing comments:
SC: I'm taking my family to the beach for a vacation Saturday. I'll keep Dale on speed dial for travel advice as needed. A week on the beach and being away from Razorback news should be a welcome relief, but after 14 hours on the road with the wife and kids I'll be ready to go home Sunday.
JC: With the awesome weather coming, the King Biscuit Blues Festival breaks its attendance record. I'll have to move my spot at tent city two times because of rowdy, obnoxious, drunk, hygiene-challenged, LSU-clad blues fans. Not sure what's more despicable: their behavior or their pride in their behavior. The Godfather will order a double side of slaw at the Rendezvous in Memphis in honor of my absence.
DC: Sean says he is on a family vacation to Florida, but I'm guessing he is really on a bus tour to Natchez with the Purple Hat Ladies. Jack says he will be at King Biscuit, but I'm thinking he will really be in Hot Springs at the 2012 Documentary Film Festival.
GH: The only bonus prediction I have is that the rest of the Tusk to Tail crew cuts me enough slack for not getting my predictions in on time. Sorry, bros. "Everybody just SMILE!!!!”
CM: Tiger fans at The Vault will buy beers for the Tusk to Tail crew after the game on Saturday.
DR: If Mark drives his new Subaru. I predict that Mississippi’s finest respectfully request a full body cavity search of the hippie wagon’s driver. But a more confident prediction is that The Godfather refuses to relinquish control of driving duties, taking his gas guzzler instead.
MW: David will try to help heal the poisoned trees at Toomer’s Corner by urinating on them sometime this weekend. Mulcahey will depart the game even earlier than he did last week and will probably be at Gus's in Memphis eating fried chicken before the 4th Quarter starts. Sean will get thrown out of a soccer game, and Jack will not take off his sunglasses the entire weekend at the King Biscuit Blues Festival. In addition I predict he will also take his harp and be blowing soft while Bobby plays the blues.
FM: Due to poor leadership on The Hill, my minor protest was to not have a prediction this week. Shame on the leaders that are responsible for this mess. The players and fans deserve better.