Brummett Online

OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: No longer high on the Hogs


I may have come up with a plan to resurrect Razorback football, which is merely the dominant cultural influence of my time and place--my time being the last nearly 70 years and my place being this remote province where "woo pig sooie" meant "I am somebody."

My plan is for the Legislature to appropriate tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars from the surplus into a special fund for state-government agencies to design and implement advertising campaigns that would serve as funnels of NIL money to Hog football recruits, whether out of high school or from the transfer portal.

Four-star and five-star recruits would be contracted with for top dollars others couldn't match. The contracts would be for service by these recruits as spokespersons and otherwise as endorsers of, say, UAMS or state parks and tourism or the state lottery or a hotline for poor people to call and restore their Medicaid coverage.

"Call this number now and get your health insurance back. Tell 'em K.J. sent you," K.J. could say, adding, "And, trust me, K.J. knows from playing behind that offensive line that medical care is important."

The quarterback would be shown waving as he drove away in his Ferrari.

A newly formed state Commission to Save the Hogs would pay from this surplus appropriation to make a grant through the Human Services Department of whatever sum K.J. demanded to keep him in Fayetteville one more year.

Would that be legal? Who knows under this new frontier by which college athletes may get paid as amateurs for their names, images and likenesses? One school of thought is that, in its currently unregulated form, NIL can work differently in every state depending on what laws the legislatures in those states make.

There is talk of Congress passing legislation for uniform national governance. But get a load of that phrase--"Congress passing legislation for uniform national governance." Yeah, you bet. I want to see New York's Chuck Schumer and Louisiana's Mike Johnson sit down and work out some college football rules.

Would a scheme such as I propose be a waste of state taxpayer money? Ask the taxpayers. They might find it a worthy expenditure. And what is the harm in promoting medical services, medical insurance, college scholarships, and state parks and tourist attractions? It could be a two-fer--helping people while buying a nationally competitive football team.

I used the word "resurrect" because Razorback football died Friday afternoon in ineptitude and ignominy in Fayetteville.

It had been quite a ride over seven decades.

My trip began when I was 8, living in a little two-bedroom flat-top house at the end of a dirt lane in southwest Little Rock. On a Saturday night, I reached onto the kitchen counter and fiddled with the dial on a clock radio and discovered the static of wild cheering upon an announcer's declaration of "touchdown Arkansas."

Someone named Billy Moore had just scored a thing called a touchdown at some place called War Memorial Stadium.

I was, in that moment, Arkified.

A life's journey ended late Friday afternoon when a tight end for Missouri got so wide open for yet another effortless touchdown reception of a simple and obvious pass that no Razorback could be seen even on a widescreen TV. There was only smug cheering from Missouri fans, who were about the only ones left in the stadium.

That play happened about the same time of day and the same time of year in the same venue as the Game of the Century. I refer to December 1969 when the nationally second-ranked Hogs lost 15-14 to top-ranked Texas while the president of the United States sat watching in a cold drizzle.

These football Razorbacks had gone from breaking my heart gloriously and securing my proud devotion to their heroic over-achievement to this ... a bitter and resigned chuckle for all the wasted years, as the remote clicked the screen to black.

It occurred to me that Don McLean should write a song about the good ol' boys drinking whiskey and rye and saying this was the day the hog call died.

It may be time for our politicians to put our money where our sooie used to be.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected]. Read his @johnbrummett feed on X, formerly Twitter.