Ah, the college football rivalry. It’s a fascinating phenomenon – the stuff of endless discussions, heated debates, and probably more than a couple “Well, I am never speaking to her again!” strained relationships.
I’ve always thought great football rivalries in the South were a natural – and (most of the time, anyway) much more genteel – extension of the Hatfield-McCoy feud. No, really – check out these comparisons:
- There’s passion – we wear Hog hats. In public. And allow photos. Enough said.
- There’s inter-family conflict – we all have that cousin we just cannot invite to our New Year’s Day bowl game watching party because we know it will not end well.
- And there’s firepower – although fortunately for us, this is now confined to the quarterback’s throwing arm rather than anything involving lead.
The other distinctive thing you’ll find about most legendary football rivalries is that they’re really, really old. Nine of the 14 top rivalries in college football (as defined by NFL.com) began earlier than 1900. The “youngest” rivalry on the list – Florida vs. Florida State – started in 1958 (which, let’s face it, doesn’t exactly feel like recent history, no matter how much we may [or may not] admit to remembering 1958). That’s some serious tradition…and a whole lot of wives kicking their husbands under the table at Thanksgiving to make them stop talking trash to Cousin Joe about their team over the turkey.
So now we’re starting a new football rivalry with the November 28 Arkansas-Missouri game, unofficially dubbed ARMOgeddon (FYI – the cool name automatically gives us football rivalry bonus points). While we may not have longevity on our side yet, we’ve got the rest of my unscientific-but-oh-so-true Great Football Rivalry characteristics nailed.
Passion? Please…we’re the Razorbacks. Mizzou fans have quite a few other sports teams to distract them, including the hopefully-soon-to-again-be-World-Series-winning Cardinals, the St. Louis Rams, the Kansas City Chiefs, and Blues hockey. We have the Hogs. That’s it – and it’s why the state pretty much still grinds to a halt when our beloved team hits the turf. And we wouldn’t ever want it any other way, would we?
Inter-family conflict? Come sit at my table on Thanksgiving day and watch the sparks fly. As a young and naïve bride, I forgot to ask a vital question before accepting my dear husband’s proposal (young ladies, let this be a lesson to you). As a result, I spend my holidays surrounded by Mizzou fans. Vocal Mizzou fans. Fans that I just cannot sit quietly and listen to without responding (my mama raised me right – always be polite, unless someone is impugning the Hogs. At which point, channel your inner Julia Sugarbaker and make them cry into their sweet potato casserole). And with U of A alumni in Missouri numbering more than 4,000 and steadily growing, I have a feeling my experience will be playing out at tables across the state this Thanksgiving in anticipation of ARMOgeddon.
And firepower? Oh, the Razorbacks have it. You’re going to want to see this in person, because this game just might provide the fodder to get you through the next ten family get-togethers with the Mizzou side of the family.
So get your tailgate tickets now (no, seriously, they’re almost gone – go get them now. I’ll wait.) and your t-shirts and help rocket ARMOgeddon into Legendary Rival status. You bring the Hog hats, and I’ll bring the monogrammed tissues for my Missouri relations – hey, just because we’re rivals, we can’t forget our good Southern manners, right?