Will Hogs and Tigers Say Goodbye to “The Boot?”
Former Razorback football player David Bazzel is the man behind what may be the most off the wall trophy in all of college sports. It weights a ton and supposedly represents what the states of Arkansas and Louisiana look like on a map. They call it The Boot and it was created as a way of promoting the Arkansas-LSU football game as an annual rivalry on the order of Auburn-Alabama, Texas-Texas A&M and Ohio State-Michigan.
The truth is, 21 years after leaving the SWC for the SEC, Arkansas still doesn’t have a hated rival close to what it enjoyed in facing Texas every year.
Guess what? Most Hogs fans don’t care.
A friend of mine put it this way: “I don’t like any of ’em (Arkansas’ SEC opponents). I want to beat ’em all. Beat ’em and move on to the next one.”
Nonetheless it appears that Razorback AD Jeff Long sees dollar signs in a potential Arkansas-Missouri rivalry as the Tigers begin play in the SEC. As the various SEC AD’s haggle behind the scenes trying to work out a permanent schedule for football beyond the upcoming 2012 season Long has his eye on Missouri as a permanent crossover opponent for the Hogs.
It does make sense geographically. Arkansas and Missouri have a lot more in common with each other than Arkansas and its current crossover opponent, South Carolina.
But there is more to what’s going on than just making sure Arkansas and Missouri play each other every year. LSU apparently wants to switch its annual end of the season game with Arkansas to one with Texas A&M.
If Long goes along with this change it seems logical that Missouri would become Arkansas’ last regular season game each year.
It’s not hard to figure out what is at work here. It is 524 miles from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It is just 312 miles from Fayetteville to Columbia, Missouri and 339 miles from Baton Rouge to College Station, Texas.
If having fans from opposing schools rubbing elbows with either other on a daily basis makes for a stronger college football rivalry then get ready for the Hogs and Mizzou and the Tigers and Aggies.
Frankly this would have been a bigger deal 50 years ago than it is today.
Yes, Alabama and Auburn will likely always hate each other as will Ohio State and Michigan. But Texas and Texas A&M is going away as a rivalry and there are a lot of schools out there who get by just fine without some team on the schedule that is hated just because it’s been that way for a hundred years.
This is a polite way of saying that most Hog fans I talk to don’t get their blood pumping when you mention Missouri.
Likewise it’s hard for me to picture LSU fans foaming at the mouth to claim some currently nonexistent trophy awarded annually to the winner of the Tigers-Aggies game.
What would they call it, Swamp Thing?
Also if the Hogs and Missouri Tigers are going to end the season against each other every year would the The Boot go away? If so what would replace it?
Here’s a suggestion: Old timers in NE Arkansas claim that shenanigans took place in the drawing of the border between the Arkansas and Missouri territories back in 1818. What’s up with that bootheel that extends down into what obviously should be a part of Arkansas, they ask?
I’m told that even today Missouri residents in the bootheel claim they have more in common with Arkansas than their own state.
So we could settle it on the football field each year. The Battle of the Boot is dropped for the Battle of the Bootheel.
If we Arkies can’t have the bootheel we can at least claim the booheel trophy.
In the meantime I will continue to point out that you can’t create a fierce rivalry because of geography and hokey trophies.
The fans decide if an opponent makes their blood boil and it usually takes generations for that to develop.
Welcome to the SEC Missouri but don’t expect Hog fans to hate you. As my friend would say, we just want to beat you and move on to the next victim, with or without a trophy at stake.