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Notes from the South Endzone: Liberty Bowl Edition

I have chipped the ice out from around my fingers since sitting in the stands at the Liberty Bowl / Memphis's largest human refrigerator. And according to the mirror this morning, I've finally gotten the "Oh my Gawd, Tejada, made it!" expression of disbelief off my face. So I think I am ready to give you another first hand account of a Razorback game, this being the third for me this season. Here is how I experienced the game from the South Endzone, which I am sure was so much warmer than the North Endzone, haha. Please tell us how you experienced the game in the comment section.

* You know you are a college football family when you can calculate the bowl viewing record for each of your family members. I was really wanting my father to attend since he is 2-0 in bowl games. But his feet would be cold in Hell, so there was no way he was going to a game that required this many multiple layers of clothing. My mother (3-2), my brother (1-1) and I (3-2) travelled to the game from Warren and left my father on the warm couch.

* Much has been made of Arkansas's poor bowl record. And it is a tale of disappointment. But what we don't have in quantity, we do have something in quality. There are trophies from the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta (tie), Cotton, Independence, Gator,  Holiday, and now Liberty in our trophy case. We haven't won a lot, but we have won quality bowl games.

* Signs of a possible Arkansas bowl victory. There was a blue moon at the end of the month. haha.

* But I didn't have the feeling we would add the Liberty bell to our trophy case as we left for Memphis. I had a sense of doom and gloom that we would see the spirit of 7-6 instead of a trophy. The suspensions and then reading the Dem Gazette's stat comparisons helped bring about this mood. ECU was better matched with us on paper than I had thought they would be. They would go on and prove it in actuality.

* Quinn Grovey on the pre-game radio program tried to make me feel better by saying that he had been at practice and that the offense looked sharp, even in cold weather. Hmmm. I wasn't buying it.

* More bad vibes. We listened to the basketball team blow their game with mind numbing dumbness while we waited for the shuttle bus to arrive in the Bartlett Wal Mart parking lot.

* When you go to a bowl game in a place you are not familiar with, your first question is where to park. Basically, I had to weigh between trying to park at the stadium or parking out at a shuttle location. We went shuttle because it was right off the interstate and would be a clear shot back to Arkansas once we got back.

* We subjected ourselves to depending upon MATA and their "wisdom." Simply put, they didn't have enough busses to get everyone to the stadium in time. I actually heard, "And we are going to let the government run health care!" come from the crowd of disgruntled Hog fans. After being crowded out of getting on the first three busses, we made damn sure we got on the fourth! I felt like I was on a chopper lifting from a Saigon rooftop as we left the remaining fans there at the parking lot. I felt sorry for them, but I wasn't going to trade places with them.

* The members of the Army parachute team that jumped into the stadium probably weren't as stressed as I was as I checked my watch every five seconds in route to the stadium. But when all was said and done, we were there for kickoff.

*  And our friends, the Bankses, were there as well. They had gone the stadium parking route and had been there for four hours, haha. They now each have a bowl record of (1-0). And clearly better parking instincts than we have.

* I don't think there are really any bad seats in the Liberty Bowl which made it all that more annoying that a fight nearly broke out in front of us over seating. The usher even had a little rhyme for them. "Take seat number nine, or do some jail time!" It would turn out that this little off the field piece of human drama would pale in comparison to what we would see later. 

* The Arkansas fans were a sea of red, white, and camo green. The fan base's duck hunting and deer hunting background served them well.

* As for myself, I made sure I had some clothing pieces from the 2003 Independence Bowl win. The hootie I wore at that game, I wore it. But I had to debate between jackets. The warmer jacket won out over superstition.

* Crude observation, but amazingly enough, with all those layers of clothing, someone near us managed to fart and stink up the whole area. Not only did the Hogs' offense stink!

* Interesting Pirate knowledge gained from the program, their mascot is named PeeDee. Hmm.

* The ECU fans were not as numerous of course, but they did make themselves heard. But they didn't have an "ARRRRGGGHHH" cheer as I somehow expected they would, haha, or at least I didn't hear it as being that. I did hear the thud of one of Hartman's kicks as it hit the goal post. The sweet sound of failure!

* Ryan Mallett (shouldn't leave early) and the offense showed all their worse traits. Ryan didn't take the high percentage play over the low, the run game never developed, Broderick Green ran right into tacklers, and the receivers went back to dropping balls.

* The defense. They saved the bacon, actually. Two interceptions, both resulting in scores. Maybe Matt Harris doesn't make that interception if he is out there? Something to think about.

* My game predicting skills are still in working order. I actually said to my friend, "Watch the Hogs let them march 99 yards for a touchdown." And they did. I don't think it takes a Hog genius to have said, "Watch Tejada miss this." The whole fan base was thinking it. And of course, he did. But I did tell my mother that I felt a Razorback touchdown coming, and sure enough, next play Ryan finally connects with Wright and it is a TD. Can I list this skill on my resume? haha.

* Eddie Money? This is the best that the city that Elvis once called home can give us? For shame, Liberty Bowl. For shame! 10-0 at halftime and I feel too depressed to even think about food and drink. I just sit and stew in the miserable cold as Eddie goes on about two tickets to paradise. And I paid 50 bucks each for these tickets?

* Then two early scores in the second half and I am thinking we just might win this thing. But we Arkansas fans would have to endure several stays of execution as their kicker, Hartman, ("I heart Hartman!") has a Leigh Tiffin, circa 2006, of a night.

* Overtime was the last thing we mighty band of brothers, Hog fans in the freezing cold, wanted to see, but we would take it over losing, for sure. I actually heard myself say, "I wouldn't mind having Nutt on the sideline right now." Overtime was something he could do, but on second thought, might the thing have lasted seven periods if Nutt had been there?

* I went to the restroom at the beginning of overtime in what I call the Lucas 2000 move, as when I went to the restroom at the Cotton Bowl in 2000 and missed seeing Anthony Lucas turn the game around with an amazing fifty plus yard catch. Not as dramatic, but the defense stopped them and Hartman missed yet again. So, I guess the Lucas 2000 worked. Plus, I really needed to pee!

* I'll never forget seeing the two zebras lift their hands up in a rather robotic motion (maybe they were frozen) to say Tejada had finally warmed the hearts of Razorback fans with a kick for a win.

* Going out of the stadium, I truly felt for the ECU fans. They had the team that played like an SEC team. But I guess the football gods decided to pay us back for the Capital One Bowl where we beat Wisconsin in everything but the score and lost on a field goal. Hopefully they'll pay ECU back some day. They deserve it.

* We did two things we hadn't done all year. Won a game in our white uniforms and won a game east of the Mississippi river.

* As I would hear on the radio the next day, it was pointed out that Arkansas lost the three Liberty Bowls they probably should have won, but then won the one that they should have lost. Well, that is just how we Razorbacks roll, right? haha.

* My mother and brother and I made it to our bus that we feared we wouldn't catch due to the clog of people exiting the stadium. I really feared someone was going to get trampled on.

* But from our bus, we witnessed a man most likely die from a heart attack. I don't know if he was an Arkansas fan or ECU fan, as if that matters. He was in the bus next to us. We didn't see him fall down. But we did see most likely his daughter freaking out something terrible. The busses were parked side by side, so we could look right into the next one. Calls for doctors, nurses, went through our bus. Thankfully, someone knew CPR in the other bus, for we could see him doing the pumping motion. It was all rather surreal. And, of course, puts football victories in their proper low place on the pecking order of life. When our bus pulled out, some EMT's were working on the man. I don't know if he lived or died. But they were working on him for an awful long time to think that things ended well. My heart goes out to you and your family. I hope you made it.  

* So we had drama on and off the field, to say the least. Enough to make us very glad to finally reach home where the next morning I went out and got a paper just to make sure we had actually won that game. It said so in the paper, so it must be true. I am looking forward to stopping in the Broyles Center the next time I am in Fayetteville to see the trophy itself. I also expect to see Ryan Mallett in Fayetteville as well. But like the rest of you, I'll sweat it out until he actually says he is staying.

Like I mentioned above, please add in the comment section or the fan section any tales you have of how you experienced the game. Would like to hear from you. And, finally, welcome to 12-22-3 BABY! haha.