If you follow Razorback recruiting closely, you probably know that Arkansas typically sends recruits on official visits to a dinner at The Catfish Hole. But it's not just a dinner. It turns into a huge party with as many Hog fans as it can fit in the place, and all the while they're woo pigging and what not while they eat the catfish and/or steak and/or shrimp and/or chicken and most definitely the UNLIMITED HUSHPUPPIES.
Anywho, this was at one time a message board secret. Photos and video of the party dinners are not allowed. But clearly the reputation broad enough at this point that ESPN doesn't hesitate to write a story on it and the larger point of the importance of local food in recruiting.
Recruits are ushered to the Razorback Room, a special section that seats about 90 people and is plastered with Arkansas memorabilia, including autographed jerseys and framed photos of former stars. They're then served high quantities of everything on the menu, including a special strawberry-and-cream fried pie that's served with a side of vanilla Blue Bell ice cream. Gazzola said the pie recipe is his "secret weapon" reserved only for recruits.
Every time I've been to The Catfish Hole, I've always been too full to consider dessert. Because, again, UNLIMITED HUSHPUPPIES. But I need to figure out a way to get my hands on one of those strawberry-and-cream fried pies because that sounds SWEET LORD!
And about Alex Collins' experience:
"The Catfish Hole gets five stars from me," said Collins, who has emerged as one of the top true freshman in the SEC with 797 yards rushing through eight games. "Not only is the food amazing, but the people that were there that night showed me how much they care about Arkansas and care about me. You could feel it the entire time you were there. It was important for me to find an environment like that."
The story also features this tidbit about Bielema's recruiting tactics at Wisconsin:
When Arkansas coach Bret Bielema was at Wisconsin, he says, the Badgers landed highly recruited receiver Kyle Jefferson out of Cleveland Glenville because the waffles they served him had W's on them.
I consider myself a waffle fan. I'm not sure I would commit to a school just because of a special design on the waffle, but hey, that's cool.
But then I'll give this suggestion to The Catfish Hole: RAZORBACK-SHAPED HUSHPUPPIES! If they do it, and it works, can I get a strawberry-and-cream fried pie?
Read the full ESPN story here, which includes much more about The Catfish Hole and stories from other schools.