story by David Rice
Editor’s note: Welcome to the introduction 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 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. See the photo box for their “cards” and “stats.” Tusk to Tail is managed by The City Wire and sponsored by Preferred Office Products.
Follow the Tusk to Tail team on Twitter — @TuskToTail
The long, horrible nightmare is finally over. When the Razorbacks kick off against Jacksonville State, it will have been 34 weeks since Arkansas thrashed Kansas State 29-16 in the Cotton Bowl.
Sure, there have been distractions in the meantime.
The Omahogs were within a vacillating strike zone of reaching the College World Series championship, and Mike Anderson looked capable of coaxing more than 20 minutes of hell from the basketball team. Even the Olympics created a nice diversion until learning there was a woman’s volleyball player named Destinee Hooker. We thought that was just an alias for Jessica Dorrell.
Talk about distractions … Bobby Petrino pulled the worst April Fool’s prank ever, taking the Hogs’ best chance at winning a national championship since the Kennedy administration and laying it down in a brush pile. Ironically, JFK was also rumored to have an "inappropriate relationship" with a famous blonde. At least Kennedy had the good sense not to invite her into his convertible.
And thus begins the John L. Smith era in earnest. Whether shortchanged by the timing, or hoping that coaching the Razorbacks is “so easy even a caveman could do it,” Athletic Director Jeff Long offered the apparent aspiring comic a 10-month contract as head coach. There has been no confirmation if the length of the contract was set to mirror the maximum lease Smith could obtain with his credit rating.
Yet none of that matters now. Summer is over, and it is time for football on The Hill. Football was a fall rite before Broyles was diagraming plays on cave walls for lumbering stegosaurs, and it will continue even after Dorrell’s famous final kill.
GREAT FOOTBALL = GREAT PARTY
Now it’s time to dust off those tailgating tents, yank the big screen off the wall, load up a cooler, and stake a claim to a patch of grass near the stadium. With great football comes a great party, and we are here to help.
We are Tusk to Tail, featuring full boar coverage of the Arkansas Razorback football tailgating scene from beginning to end, planning to clean-up. Collectively we have more than 100 years of tailgate experience, and have partied at just about every stadium the Hogs have played in the past 20 years, from Los Angeles to Athens, Ga.
We will be at every game this season, typically starting our journey before sunrise and not pulling up the stakes until well after the final whistle.
SONS OF an ARKY
There is no way to stereotype a member of Tusk to Tail. Some of us work for small Arkansas companies. Some work for giant global corporations, while others own their business. We have our share of blue and white collars. Some drink, some don’t. One member has only missed one game since 1999 while another has never seen a game in Little Rock. We all think we are pretty cool, but we most likely look like a living Flowmax ad. Despite our diversity, we all have one thing in common: Tailgating is our vice.
The Tusk to Tail Team loves the Razorbacks, football, and a good party. The fact we can combine all three in one gorgeous fall afternoon feels like winning before we even walk into the stadium.
We would tailgate before going into a movie if we thought we could get away with it. As it turns out, there are only a few months out of the year where it is socially acceptable to sit on a patch of grass, drink beer, and eat grilled meats all day.
This is a golden age for televised sports. Every conference football game is broadcast in stunning high definition, and many are also available in 3D. New camera angles allow access into the huddle from above. Fans can choose to record games on a DVR if they are unable to watch it in real time.
Yet apart from the games we watch in our tent beforehand, these technological advances have little effect on Tusk to Tail. If the Razorbacks are playing, we are there. The home viewer may see something close-up in instant replay that we miss from our seats. But I have never had goose bumps before kickoff while watching a game on TV.
Let’s get down to business, shall we?
Join us as we journey deep into the season’s abyss for the next four months with the following three goals:
• Tusk to Tail will help you prepare for the game.
Whether you need a crowd-pleasing recipe or recommendations where to get food and supplies near an opposing school’s campus, we’ve got you covered.
• Tusk to Tail brings the tailgate to you.
Soak in the sites, stories, and pageantry of game day as we peel back the curtain of the Big Top, live from football ground zero.
• Tusk to Tail will entertain you.
From predictions for the next game to answering burning questions such as what celebrity we would invite to a tailgate, these are the things we talk about while drinking all afternoon under a pop-up canopy.
So come join us on our little empire of dirt. Pull up a chair and pop a cold one. It’s time to get our game face on.
(To see an interview with Dale Cullins and Greg Houser, watch The City Wire Show this Saturday at 8 a.m. on KXNW, and Sunday at 6 a.m. on KFSM.)