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 firstname.lastname@example.org and read his blog at brummett.arkansasonline.com