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There’s room for rivalry

By John Brummett

This article was published November 28, 2012 at 5:00 a.m.

The established order in Arkansas changes before our very eyes. The Republicans will soon control the state Legislature and fill all our seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

More importantly, Arkansas State and not the University of Arkansas is getting listed in “others receiving votes” in the college football polls.

ASU is beating a hyphenated Louisiana team that beat the once-mighty Razorbacks. The Red Wolves are part of the conversation about minor bowl game invitations, assuming they win Saturday. Arkansas surely isn’t.

Arkansas State has an ideal home-grown, God-fearing, pass-happy coach, Gus Malzahn, while the Hogs founder around, stung by a sullen and unhelmeted motorcyclist and a goofy and debt-laden land dealer.

Perhaps these are mere aberrations. Perhaps the Democrats will soon right their ship and the Hogs will, too.

Meantime, though, there always is a pot to be stirred.

A confession: I use the social media platform called Twitter for anti-social purposes. Forgive me.

I like to type 140-character tweet bombs for the sole and perverse purpose of irking Razorback fanatics. I do it because I enjoy instant gratification.

It’s like mowing the grass, then standing back to behold the even cut. You tweet a Razorback insult, and, within seconds, you are being called spectacular names on a Hog fan message board. It hardly gets any better.

So I tweeted Monday that I no longer saw anything for ASU to gain by condescending to play a football game against Arkansas.

It’s irony, a contradictory twist. I love irony.

Perhaps, I wrote, Arkansas State could await the winner of a game between Arkansas and UCA, which have much in common. Both lost to Ole Miss.

So state Rep. Andrea Lea of Russellville tweeted that she’d been encouraged by someone to file a bill forcing such a game between ASU and Arkansas. She said she wasn’t going to do it because, if anybody ought to lead such a public policy initiative, it surely should be that proud ASU alumnus who gave the pre-game pep talk to the Red Wolves before their victory over the hyphenated Louisiana team.

That would be Gov. Mike Beebe.

Ever logical, Beebe’s position is that he has long supported the development of this very intrastate rivalry, but would never seek to use public policy to compel it, for that would not be appropriate.

Indeed, such a bill was introduced in 1987. Then-Gov. Bill Clinton got mad at the UA’s lobbyist over something and mobilized his forces to get the bill voted out of committee. The Razorback Clubs went on a phone-calling tear, and the bill got drubbed on the House floor.

I tweeted that Beebe clearly loved his alma mater, though, and had been seen and overheard at an ASU game lobbying Liberty Bowl officials to invite the Red Wolves if they win out. And that led to a Twitter discussion of how the Red Wolves might instead go to something called the Compass Bowl on New Year’s Day in Birmingham, of which I had previously been unaware.

It was about that time that Jamie Gates, a chamber of commerce executive in Conway, barged in on this Twitter talk.

He said we needed to expand the discussion to basketball and to question the fairness of the Razorbacks’ inviting UCA conference rivals to money-making basketball games.

Apparently he meant Sam Houston State, a UCA conference foe that the Razorbacks had defeated in Fayetteville a few nights before.

Wouldn’t it be better for everyone, Gates proposed, if, instead, the Hogs actually would host UCA, coached by Corliss Williamson, a player on the UA national championship team of Nolan Richardson’s in 1994?

Corliss and Mike Anderson, the Hogs’ head coach and Richardson’s assistant on that national title team, could stand by Nolan’s side that evening as the court in Bud Walton Arena could be formally renamed for Richardson.

“Huge night,” Gates wrote.

It’s not a bad idea, actually.

And then the winner could qualify to play ASU. Or UALR. Or UAPB.

Is there a point to all this? Why, yes, of course. It is that a state now big enough for two political parties might also be big enough for an intrastate collegiate sports rivalry.

I’m always for the underdog. That’s why I’ll root for the Democrats and the Razorbacks.

John Brummett is a regular columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him at and read his blog at


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KCSAP says... November 28, 2012 at 6:39 a.m.

Does the Gazette actually pay people to write rambling dribble such as this article?

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Populist says... November 28, 2012 at 7:32 a.m.


Many of us find Brummett amusing. He is a major reason that I have a subscription.

I just heard on Headline News that Cowboys fans from Texas have petitioned Pres. Obama to remove Jerry Jones as owner of the Cowboys. Of course, Texans also have filed petitions to secede from the union. Texans are having a bad year in politics and sports. Hopefully, they'll have a good hunting season and no politicians will shoot their friends in the face.

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Jackabbott says... November 28, 2012 at 8:23 a.m.

It is probably time for an ASU-UAF game to be staged in Little Rock. Keep the $$$$ in the state. This does not mean a 'blood" rivalry or any diminishing of the Hogs, they are the de facto state team and most likely will remain so.

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JuanCarlosEspinoza says... November 28, 2012 at 8:48 a.m.

Put ASU in the SEC with U of A.

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Jfish says... November 28, 2012 at 9:03 a.m.

Jack is correct, 1 out of every 10 or 12 years, the football game might actually be competitive. The same goes for basketball, there are always 3 or 4 teams on the UA schedule that most in the state don't even know where they are located, these teams are usually the head coaches' way of doing his head coach buddies a favor.

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... November 28, 2012 at 9:46 a.m.

I don't think the Hogs could even beat a good high school team.

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ozarkescarpment says... November 28, 2012 at 9:59 a.m.

UAF may be the only SEC program to escape in-state non-conference competition. The false myth that Fayetteville is invincible to other Div I teams here should be evident by now. 2011: UAF 38 Troy 28. ASU 45 Troy 14... The money generated by the monopoly is the reason it persists, not a reluctance by the UAF coaching staff(Remember what happened when a newly hired Van Horn naively mentioned a game with ASU a few years back?) Big money and politics will buy the Fayetteville program protection and favored coverage in the "statewide" media. UALR, UCA and the Div II programs are no less the victims.

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NoUserName says... November 28, 2012 at 10:32 a.m.

Pop says: " Texans are having a bad year in politics and sports."
The TEXANS are 10-1. Read the first paragraph of the article and said 'this must be a Brummett.' Sure enough. Think he's getting predicable although the article took an interesting twist. Nice tweet. My college (BCS bowl, D1, etc) plays an instate rival Friday after Thanksgiving. See no reason AR shouldn't play ASU.

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cdjcord says... November 28, 2012 at 11:37 a.m.

The Razorbacks couldn't handle the Red Wolves....

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HawgFan says... November 28, 2012 at 11:49 a.m.

Jfish is correct... And this year would have been the 1 year out of 10 or 12 where the game would have been competitive, although the Hogs still would have won. I would actually love to see the Hogs play ASU every year, it would give the Hogs another automatic win. Brummett is getting as bad, and as uninteresting, as Wally.

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