OPINION - Guest writer

ELI CRANOR: Call the Hogs, don’t boo them

If you were one of the fans in Fayetteville last Saturday booing the Hogs' sophomore quarterback, Cole Kelly --shame on you. You're supposed to "call" the Hogs, not boo them.

The boo-birds started chirping early in the second half, bemoaning Kelly as he trotted off the field after tossing yet another interception.

This was after the North Texas "Mean Green" had amassed a decent lead, not a nail-in-the-coffin kind of discrepancy, mind you, but substantial enough for the Hog faithful to get snippy about losing yet another non-conference game.

Now listen, I played quarterback for Ouachita Baptist. During the homecoming game my junior year, I threw five interceptions. One more than Cole Kelly heaved last Saturday.

But no one booed me. Thank God.

That would have been devastating. Remember, I was just a college student. And Cole Kelly--that's what he is too, or, as Razorback receiver Jared Cornelius put it in a post-game interview: "That's somebody's son, that's somebody's brother ... and I won't stand for it."

Preach, Brother Jared. Educate the masses. Tell them how it feels to be the "man in the arena," as former president Teddy Roosevelt once said.

Speaking of the "arena," the University of Arkansas paid the "Mean Green" $1 million to come play on "The Hill."

Pause, and think about that. One million dollars. For a group of unpaid college kids to come play another group of unpaid college kids. Sounds crazy, right? These are supposed to be student athletes.

Students! Athletes!

Yet there are millions upon millions of dollars on the line. And that money's not just for paying off non-conference opponents, it's also used on coaches' salaries (coaches' buyouts), stadium additions, new jerseys, etc.

Despite the money, you should never boo a college athlete. Period. NFL? Sure, go for it. They're big boys with bigger bank accounts--they can handle it, but not the young men who make up college football programs. That's ridiculous.

Listen Hog fans; we're in for a long year. Trust me, I know. I'm not only a former five-interception-throwing quarterback, I'm also a former 0-10 coach. In my first season as head football coach of the Clarksville Panthers, my team lost every game.

It almost sounds silly to say, but that was one of the hardest years of my life. And no one was booing my players, no one was even booing me (at least not publicly).

The Razorbacks' new coach Chad Morris is working hard. His program, his team, those boys--they're working their tails off. I guarantee it. They want to win. We all want to win.

But winning, like anything good in this world, takes time.

Sometimes, it takes years to create a winning program. And what you cannot know unless you've been there is how hard it is to wake up every day--wake up a loser--but go to work like you're a winner, to really believe you're a winner.

Which leads me back to last Saturday. Instead of booing, the Razorback fan base should have been showing our belief; we should have been calling the Hogs. Who knows? If we'd had a little faith, it might have led to a second-half rally.

It's happened before.

Back in the 1920s, the Razorbacks were struggling in the fourth quarter and a group of local farmers started "squealing like pigs" to show their encouragement, and it worked. The Hogs rallied late and came away with the victory. Thus, the "Hog Call" was born.

We should all take a page from those days, back when the game was simpler, before all the money and the pageantry, before it cost $11.9 million to fire Bret Bielema, back when football was just a game college boys played on Saturdays, a game that made grown men squeal.

And don't forget, that squealing rallied the home team to a win. Imagine that: Winning didn't take millions of dollars and nasty jeers; it just took a little faith, and a bunch of farmers calling the hogs.


Eli Cranor, a former coach and college quarterback, can be reached at elicranor.com.

Editorial on 09/21/2018

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