There’s nothing quite like the excitement of the first game week of the season. You can feel it over Arkansas today. Plans are being made for game day. Those who are coming to Fayetteville are spending the week making certain all their supplies are ready. For some, the pilgrimage will begin Saturday morning before the crack of dawn. Others will travel Friday so they can get here early and not miss a thing. Friday afternoon I-40 and I-540 will be packed with Hog fans, and by Saturday afternoon it’ll reach a fever pitch as a new era of Razorback football begins.
As Orville Henry wrote years ago, "the Razorbacks are the tie that binds us all together", and that’s never more evident than on a football Saturday. For those who’ve attended games since childhood, there are enough memories to fill a stack of scrapbooks. And it’s not just the games. It’s the journey. It’s time with family. I’d venture to bet there are countless Arkansans who’ve had some of the best conversations they’ve ever had with their parents, or their children, or their grandchildren, traveling to and from Razorback games. It’s about making the same pit stop at the same place season after season. It’s about sitting with your family and your best friends at the game. High-fiving a guy you don’t know when the Hogs score a touchdown. And understanding that this is part of our heritage. It’s who we are as Arkansans. Anyone who has ever called the Hogs with all their might on a fall Saturday knows exactly what I’m talking about.
This year will mark the 75th season of football at Razorback Stadium. Every time I walk across that field, I think of one or two great moments in Razorback history. I still remember Steve Little kicking that 67-yard field goal against Texas is 1977. I can still see the ball hit the ground after sneaking over the cross bar in the south end zone. Remember when everyone threw oranges onto the field when the Hogs clinched that trip to Miami? Lou Holts quipped after the game that he was "glad we aren’t going to the Gator Bowl".
I’ve met half a million people who claim they were at that Texas game in 1981 when the Razorbacks romped over the Longhorns during a thunderstorm that would be cause for a three-hour weather delay now. And no one will forget Stoerner to Lucas to beat Tennessee and watching the goal posts come down. The students carried one of them down to Dickson Street and propped it up against what is now Hog Haus brewery. By midnight, it was covered with the signatures of both players and fans. It was awesome! And the best news is that thanks to the generosity of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Hogs play in one of college football’s great venues.
Football begins Thursday night in the SEC. South Carolina carries the conference banner into a border battle with North Carolina, and then Ole Miss plays Vandy in a critical opener for two teams planning on great seasons. Football season has arrived. Here we go!