The votes are in! With 828 votes cast, the winner by a hair is - drumroll - with just 51% of the vote - with a lead of just 14 total votes - BOBBY PETRINO! Congratulations coach, your trophy shaped like a giant middle finger is in the mail.
While Petrino did win our little contest, I think it's probably more relevant to note that the voting was pretty much down the middle. Certainly, the animosity toward Petrino is very strong due to the sad state of Razorback football ever since he crashed his motorcycle. And the longer the program is awful, the more people will continue to hate him for it.
Add to the fact that, as much as people have tried to force them down our throats, Arkansas hasn't had a true, annual rival in over 20 years, so it's easy to see why Petrino would win this. Yes, the question was "in history", and it's clear there is still a strong sentiment against Texas, but at the same time it's difficult for many to translate those raw feelings of anger and hate toward an opponent you've only played four times in the last 21 seasons.
The hate toward both Petrino and Texas is also very different. Most Arkansas fans are born to hate the Longhorns. It's a Hatfield/McCoy type of thing (almost literally). It's similar to the "clean, old fashioned hate" label applied to the Georgia/Georgia Tech rivalry. Hating Texas feels good and right.
But Petrino was a straight-up betrayal. Razorback fans trusted him, believed in him, cheered for him, and even defended him - often blindly - yet he threw it all away. And Hog fans have been left to deal with all the ridiculousness of the last two years, all of which can be directly or indirectly attributed to the motorcycle accident. I think that cuts more deeply, although it may not last as long a time.
I don't know that either necessarily qualifies as objectively being a bigger villain than the other. It's certainly hard to overlook the decades and generations of Hogs and Horns, but at the same time, have you seen what we've been through over the last two years? I get it.
Of course the recency of the Petrino story has a lot to do with his vote. If we'd done this five years ago, Houston Nutt probably wins running away. Ten years ago, perhaps Nolan Richardson (sadly). Twenty years ago, Texas probably wins easily. If social media had been stronger during John White's reign of terror and more people knew his story, maybe it's him. But it should be noted, it'll be a long time before Texas ever fails to get a significant vote in a bracket like this. The animosity toward Petrino and Nutt will likely fade over time (one message board even had a three-page thread recently on whether Bielema should hire Nutt as an assistant - true story), but when you're born hating something like Texas, that sticks with you.
Or, maybe Petrino will win at Louisville, take the Florida job he's always been rumored to be interested in after the Gators inevitably fire Will Muschamp, and Petrino will face Arkansas directly a few times while the wounds are still fresh. That'd ratchet up the hate a bit.
While there may be no other school that's more fun to beat than Texas (and I still think that's true), there's no team I'd hate losing to more than a Petrino team.
Thank you all for playing along over the last week. I had a lot of fun with this. Oh, hey, look! Now the season's less than two months away!
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