I had two different word associations when I first saw F.A.M.I.L.Y spelled across the back of Rutgers' players' uniforms, which by the way looked like oil stains to me, though in the end victorious oil stains. First, I thought of The Family, as in the mob, The Sopranos. Second, I thought of Walter White from Breaking Bad and how all the ruin and terror he has brought about has always been with the good interest of his "family" in mind. So right away, not positive associations, a premonition possibly that this F.A.M.I.L.Y at the end of the day was not going to be one I would want to put on my Christmas card list. Then the announcer said how each letter stood for something that made a positive message, that I frankly have since forgotten. But after 24-7 turned into 24-28 towards the end of the game, I think Arkansas fans everywhere felt like the F.A.M.I.L.Y had with some quick punt returns and accurate passing sewn D.I.S.A.P.P.O.I.N.T.E.D on our backs.
Seeing as not a lot has gone right for our program since the famous motorcycle accident on April Fools Day 2012, you could say that those twelve letters feel more like they've been tattooed on our foreheads, maybe even entered the blood stream by now. Like some Cain of the SEC, we now have to go around with the mark of 0-2 vs. Rutgers. Maybe we were cursed as early as when the Game Day crew all agreed that an SEC team in Arkansas would prevail over AAC Rutgers. Their easy vote of confidence just made me feel more doubtful that we would win. Such is the spooked nature of this Arkansas fan.
And winning this game was suppose to be, as I've said in an earlier post, the last non-conference block in the steps towards six wins and a bowl berth. Rutgers would be critical, I recall writing. With that block missing now and our future SEC opponents looking tough as usual, especially in the West, this loss has the feeling that it is the warmup to another losing season.
Amongst the certainty that is now the loss to Rutgers and the nearing certainty that this will, as many had predicted, be another losing season, there is the prospect that Brandon Allen will miss more games and in doing so, win or lose them, miss the opportunity to grow and develop more as our starting quarterback for the near future.
Right about now I could write at length about how the Hogs did a lot of good things on Saturday, that Rutgers is history, that Bielema will get things right in time, that we already have more wins than we had last year at this time, and that in college football you are never promised that there won't ever be a cloudy sky. And those things are true. But if you want to indulge, as fans we can do this, the pain of the loss awhile longer and say out loud, "What Indian graveyard is Reynolds Razorback Stadium built over?" I won't think the worse of you. Our national character is one that tries to deny sorrow, deny that loss exists, optimism is America, America is optimism, but our college football character knows differently, that losing is sewn in the very fabric of things, and can be spelled in a million different ways. No doubt as Hog fans we've seen a many of those different ways. 464 to be exact, if the Razorback wikipedia page is up-to-date. But at same time, don't forget, the 682 ways the football fates have spelled out victory for the Hogs. Hey, 683, hurry up and get here!
I leave you with a poll that looks ahead to the remainder of the season. Still feeling optimistic that we can the required number of wins and go to a bowl? I won't blame if you aren't. Personally, I still think we can get to six. College football is crazy; the unexpected happens. Or maybe I am crazy? But I know it is going to be a lot harder sitting at 3-1 instead of 4-0.