Special thanks to the guys from Razorback Expats, who took some time to answer some of our questions. Good stuff below, so don't miss it. Our answers to their questions can be found over at their place.
1. Man, y'all have been absolutely rolling like, well, like a pig in slop. But there's those three pesky Ls against Alabama, Kentucky, and Auburn. What's the common thread among those three games? Any chance that thread weaves its way to Knoxville this week?Well, those losses were each incredibly heartbreaking in their own unique ways (Bama: heroic Hogs comeback spoiled by last second Tide comeback; Kentucky: a game we should have won slowly slipped away due largely to some dumb mistakes; Auburn: a game we probably shouldn't have won, but then almost did only to blow it again at the last second) but the common thread in each of those was a fairly major 4th quarter collapse by the Hogs. In each of those games we had late leads only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The crazy thing is that if you could just change a single play in each of those games we'd be undefeated right now, but I digress - it's too painful to really think about. Anyway, I'm obviously hoping that this thread doesn't weave its way to Knoxville but it's certainly possible. There was a point against South Carolina where it looked like we could be headed for another terrible collapse...then D-Mac ripped off that 80 yard run and all was right with the world again. So maybe our mojo is headed in the right direction. Then again, Bama and Kentucky both have good passing attacks, as does Tennessee, and our passing defense is pretty weak, so all the elements are in place for it to happen again. We'll have our Erik Ainge voodoo dolls ready, just in case.
2. In Knoxville, fans' opinions of coach Fulmer are quite diverse, but I'm guessing that the national perception is that he's really, really on the hot seat. I wonder if there's a similar misperception about Arkansas and its coach. From the hills of Tennessee, it looks like there is no way in Hades that Houston Nutt is going to keep his job after this season what with the exodus of multiple players and all of the turmoil going on over there. I know you guys are expats, so you might have a different perspective than those in Fayetteville, but is Nutt effectively gone after this season, or are the opinions of him held by the fanbase more diverse than they appear to the rest of the nation?- It's hard to say. A few weeks ago (after those three losses), it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Nutt would be out after the season. After all, the Hogs have underachieved this year and we had losing seasons in 2004 and 2005 so the recent track record isn't fantastic. Plus, there's all the offseason stuff around player transfers, text messages, inappropriate emails and other nasty things that aren't fun to dwell on. And certainly the tenor of the Razorback blogosphere seems to range from anti-Nutt to rabidly anti-Nutt (for what it's worth, the general policy of Razorback Expats is that we don't hate the guy on a personal level - most college coaches seem to engage in various sleazy behaviors to compete...it's almost part of the job description - but at the same time it seems like the program could really use a fresh start after 10 seasons of Nuttiness). Having said all that, he's a pretty tenacious guy. Every time his detractors count him out he seems to bounce back. If I had to guess, I'd still say he'll be out in one way or another, but you never know...if we win at least two of the three remaining games (plus the bowl, perhaps...always a long shot for the Razorbacks for some reason) I could definitely see him coming back. The X factor is that we have a new AD coming in, so who really knows?
3. We heard on the telecast of the Steve Spurrier (we don't call them "South Carolina" on RTT) game last week that Darren McFadden had at some point addressed the student body and told them that if they weren't supporting Nutt, they weren't supporting the team. How much of his goodwill, if any, did he use up doing that? On a related note, how many different tattoos does Darren McFadden have, or is it essentially one montage?My guess is that he didn't use up any of his goodwill. McFadden is the best player ever to play football at Arkansas and has already achieved legendary status in the state. So he could probably eat a live kitten at the 50 yard line and people would still love him...especially if he keeps busting out those 300 yard games. As for the tattoos, it's a lot of different ones, but it's hard to say exactly how many there are. Being from Little Rock originally, I'm partial to the "501 Boy" [501=Little Rock area code] he has tattooed on biceps. I've considered some similar artwork for myself, but to be fair my arms aren't quite as impressive.
4. How's Marcus Monk? He's only caught four passes for 26 yards since returning from his injury. Is he 100% now, or should we worry more about Robert Johnson or some other wide receiver?I'll share a game-watching tip that will make things easy for UT fans...don't worry too much about the Hogs' passing attack. If we beat you guys, it will be with the legs of Mr. McFadden and Mr. Jones (watch out for that guy, by the way). Not much of an element of surprise to what we do. Having said that, my guess is that Monk isn't 100% and that he's gutting it out. But, even at less than 100% the dude is a stud and can make big plays when needed. I don't think it's a coincidence that all facets of our offense have improved dramatically since he came back.
5.Were you at the Razorbacks' last game in Neyland? You know, the 6-OT victory for Tennessee? What do you remember about that game? Lie down on a sofa first, if you must.
Ah, fond memories. No, I wasn't at that game. I didn't even watch it until the end...I had been at a wedding that night and turned on the TV when I got home expecting to see the Hogs getting routed. Instead, I tuned in just in time to see that 92-yard Jones to Smith TD pass down the sideline that tied the game. Needless to say, that got my attention. Of course, it was another heartbreaker for us in the end, which seems to be a fairly common theme if you're an Arkansas fan (see my answer to your first question). In the interest of equal time, though, I should mention that my fellow Razorback Expat blogger Stephen was at the 1992 game in Neyland when the very mediocre (at best) Hogs marched in and stunned the #5 Vols with a last second field goal to win. He still counts that moment among the greatest of his life.
6. Can you please explain exactly what you're doing when you are "calling the pigs?" Could you give us a step-by-step guide and then explain exactly what the appeal of the exercise is? ;-)
First of all, it's calling the Hogs (not the pigs) and it's truly one of the most glorious (and gloriously weird) rallying cries in all of sports. Technically, it's our way of showing support for the team, but I like to think of it as the citizens of a traditionally overlooked and underrated state calling out in one voice that they WILL be heard. Ok, that might be reading a bit much into it but it is a very cool thing when a stadium full of people is doing it. According to this site it was started by some farmers back in the 1920's (that site has a sound file, too). And scroll about halfway down this page for step by step instructions, plus a great anecdote about the Hog calls at 1992 SEC basketball tournament.
Ok, that's it from us. Thanks for the interview and good luck on Saturday (not TOO much, though)!
Razorback Expats, thanks much. We've enjoyed talking with you. See ya tomorrow in Knoxville.