Saturdays for me growing up were for pee wee football. With my dad as the head coach/offensive coordinator and the team comprised of 4th and 5th graders from Sparkman and Bearden Elementary schools, we had a lot of good Saturdays, blowing out a majority of the teams we faced with our wishbone offense.
But there's one Saturday I remember vividly. My team was putting the finishing touches on a win over Camden Harmony Grove, and an onside kick comes my direction. I recover the ball, but get hit so hard my chinstrap disconnects from my oversized helmet.
We hold on to win, but me getting my helmet turned sideways isn't what I remember most about that day. As we left Hermitage High School's sloppy, torn up field, I hear someone yell the score of the Arkansas-Texas game in Austin. "Arkansas 38, No. 6 Texas 28. Beat 'em on their own field."
I didn't get to see a snap of that game, but I remember watching highlights of Cedric Cobbs running away from Texas defenders like he stole something and seeing the joy on my dad's face. That was my first memory of the Arkansas-Texas rivalry, and it was a damn good one.
My parents taught two me two things when I was little: say yes sir, no sir, yes ma'am, no ma'am and to hate LSU and Texas. My generation knows more about the forced rivalry with LSU and all of the classic games with the Tigers than it does with the longstanding hate for the Longhorns. But despite that, we still know Texas means something to this fan base, this program, this university and this state.
When someone takes something from you, you don't have to see them every day to despise them. That's what this rivalry is. Razorback fans will always hate Texas for the 1969 loss in Fayetteville and many other things, and the Longhorn faithful will never forget the Ambush in Austin or Houston Nutt throwing the upside Longhorns at the 2000 Cotton Bowl.
Texas fans can say they couldn't care less about playing Arkansas in the bowl game, but it means something to them, too. Would they rather be playing Texas A&M? Sure. But regardless of the overall series record, each side has its share of memorable games, and there's more than a glimmer of hope Dec. 29 will give us all another one.
When I came to the University of Arkansas as a freshman, Arkansas was sitting close to the top of the college football world. Tyler Wilson, Jarius Wright, Greg Childs and those guys, Arkansas kids, were beating teams six ways to Sunday. Camping out for days for seats in the student section, not being able to talk in class Monday, it was great. It made for one hell of a freshman year.
Then Bobby Petrino happened and the program began to spiral. The next two seasons were next to unbearable after the successes of the previous seasons. Now a senior and a soon-to-be alum, I couldn't be more ecstatic about the direction of the program.
The wins over LSU and Ole Miss were something out of a movie and a tremendous way to close out my time in Razorback Stadium as an undergrad. The release of emotion from players, coaches and fans when everyone met on the field Nov. 15 was Arkansas' way of announcing it was back on the rise.
A few weeks back when bowls were being announced, I hoped and wished my college career would end on a high note with Arkansas playing in a decent bowl against a decent team. I just wanted my last Arkansas game as a student to be special. And what we got was beyond that. We got Texas.
And for me, it's the perfect college sendoff. Horns down.