Brought to you one last time in 2014, courtesy of Tito's Vodka, Bob Marley, and that last, leftover roll of Christmas wrapping paper that stretches 300% farther than the Texas Longhorns' rushing output last night. Thank you, Walmart. Thank you, Texas. Thank you, Bert.
When it comes to Texas Hate, I am probably something along the lines of a 'tweener. I was a small child during the Holtz and Hatfield years of the 1980s, and if I really stretch my memory I can recall being in the stands with my dad for the 1989 Houston game, but I came of age during Arkansas' early years as a member of the Southeastern Conference. The rings within the core of Arkansas fans tick off not years but heartbreaks, and those rings within my core have accumulated at the hands of Alabama and LSU and Auburn. Not Texas. I don't hate Texas from experience.
But I still hate Texas.
I hate Texas because it is my birthright. Because that is what I was raised to do. Also, because Texas is so very easy to hate. Its fans play so well the part of the effete, aristocratic sons of senators who survey the rest of college athletics from atop an ivory-and-burnt orange tower situated on the Forty Acres, their "hook'em Horns" gesture simply the natural progression of a group whose pinkies were already in the air. Regardless of the frequency or infrequency that Arkansas and Texas play, I will always hate the Longhorns. And if I can produce at least a marginally effective campaign as a father, so will my son, who at four-years-old is now undefeated against them. 1-0.
But enough about Texas. Texas did not, regardless of what they might boast, kick their own ass last night. Arkansas meted out the Longhorn's punishment, and the adjectives at my disposal are virtually endless. Swift. Decisive. Predictable. And wholly and undeniably lopsided. There isn't a single meaningful metric that the Longhorns won.
Wait. They did win the coin toss.
We could delve into analysis, but what would be the point? The season is over. There is nothing to glean from last night that we can look for to be verified or improved upon for next week. Arkansas certainly got better over the course of the season, but they never changed. They never tried to be anything other than who they are, a blue collar team that prefers to run the ball and play stingy defense and make a 10-point lead feel like a 30-point lead instead of the other way around. They didn't become that team until November, but that's all they've ever wanted to be.
We know the cast of characters, and they dutifully performed last night. Collins and Williams and their brutal, thudding consistency. Philon and Spaight and their brutal, thudding consistency. Trey Flowers and his secret vial of Elixir of Life Potion that he sneakily takes before big third downs so he becomes the fastest and strongest football player in the history of football, if only for that one play. Chaney and his Chaneyness. Hunter Henry and AJ Derby, just bebopping along, saving our asses and then disappearing over and over and over, like the seraphim in Angels in the Outfield. Brandon Allen and the terror and comfort he simultaneously brings out in us, as we have been bitching at and praying over this poor kid for two full seasons now. Hated, tolerated, never loved... but now he's beaten Texas.
Keon Hatcher and Brooks Ellis and Jared Collins and Dan and Denver and Mitch and Sebastian and Brey. They've all got a story, and they've all played a role, and I've cussed and praised them all over the course of this season. They've made me wonder quite legitimately if I would ever see us win another meaningful game. Then they went out and beat the everloving hell out of the LSU Tigers, the Ole Miss Rebels, and the Texas Longhorns. If you're from South Arkansas, as I am, it doesn't get better than that.
The 2014 Arkansas Razorbacks began the season with a number attached to their name. A conference losing streak that was at 12 to start the season and reached 17 games before the Hogs finally won. The same team, and mostly the same players, will start next season with an altogether different number attached to their name. From historically bad to ranked in a span of four games. Football is a hell of a sport.
I'll see y'all next year.