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Tusk to Tail 2014: ‘Priority points,’ sunshine pumpers and Sweet Tea Vodka

story by Dale Cullins

Editor’s note: Welcome to the third season of 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 sober and otherwise 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. Tusk to Tail is managed by The City Wire. Legal representation is iffy at best and professional psychological help is welcome but likely to be ignored. Link here for the Tusk to Tail introduction to the 2014 Razorback football tailgating season.

The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter — @TuskToTail

It has been a long eight months of exile for Hog fans, but Game Week is finally here. There was not much good to remember from 2013, and not much to look forward to in 2014, according to the SEC Network. There are too many questions for this team and coaching staff to answer in just one offseason and recruiting class.

Most of Tusk to Tail met for Mark Wagner’s 60th birthday bash in mid-July, and found that each of us had been avoiding local sports radio up until SEC media days. The eternal optimism of “Wait until next season” just wasn’t there.

The continued request for our money in exchange for “Priority Points” from the Razorback Foundation in the midst of the worst losing record of modern Arkansas football was just too much for some of us. Some would just rather tailgate than actually buy a ticket and walk into the stadium to see the Hogs play. Losing takes a toll on folks, even the most diehard of fans.

However, as August wore on and the temperatures started to rise, so did Tusk to Tail’s interest in the team and its progress. Our group text thread that had been quiet all summer sprung alive with more than 70 texts in an hour. Interest in football was still alive, and the start to the season was coming fast.

It wasn’t until team practices began that I would return my attention to the news coming off The Hill. But with so much sunshine being pumped, it is hard to take it all in. The local radio shows and magazines have to keep advertisers and subscribers happy, so it’s truly hard to take what they say seriously.

Our local guys tell us, “The Hogs are better, and quarterback Brandon Allen looks much improved,” as well as, “The Hogs will win some games.” Then every national college sports pundit that comes on the local air says we are going to struggle, and will be lucky to win four games. Who do you believe, or do you just put your faith in the Hogs?

I choose to believe in the Hogs, and plan on attending 10, maybe 11 games this season.

I started planning this first trip to Auburn last January for our crew. We reserved four rooms at the Quality Inn in Auburn at the low, low price of $290/night. You can imagine what the likes of the Hampton Inn were asking.

We have six from Northwest Arkansas pulling out at 6 a.m. on Friday, aiming for Little Rock by 9 a.m. to meet up with six more so we can make The Rendezvous in Memphis when the doors open at 11 a.m.

With any luck and a new route around Highway 78 out of Memphis, we can get through Birmingham by 3:30 p.m., and on to Auburn by 5:30 or so. The rush hour traffic in Birmingham can be brutal and has cost us more than an hour in years past. With this being a holiday weekend, I’m not sure what to expect, other than the worst.

I plan for us to avoid Montgomery this trip for that same reason. We will head down Highway 280 straight to Auburn out of Birmingham. Auburn, like the U of A, opens the campus at 5 p.m. the day before a game so folks can stake out a tailgating spot. We will get as close as we can to the stadium and then hit Toomer’s Corner for dinner.

We plan to take all of our gear and make the most of our time on the Plains. I’m keeping the menu simple with cheese dip, chicken nuggets, and barbecue, with lots of Sweet Tea Vodka to wash it all down.

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It’s difficult to accurately predict the weather this early, but we know it will be hot and humid with a decent chance of rain. We will be ready and hope Coach Bielema has the team ready, as well. The Hogs usually play well at Auburn. The only concern is that Gus knows that as well as the Hogs do.

Go Hogs, Beat Auburn!

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