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The “Curse” of Arkansas

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

The Arkansas Razorbacks. One of the most unique programs in college football and a proud member of the SEC. Whether it’s the Hog Call or fans wearing huge pig noses, watching a game in Donald W Reynolds Razorback Stadium is an experience to say the least. Arkansas will always be in the SEC, but with a recent year’s slump of major success others are not so sure. Sure, Arkansas has had some bright spots in Football, but It just seems like disappointment rears its ugly head year after year. So, what is the cause?

That is a very complicated and complex answer. Is it a lack of drive? No. Is it being satisfied with just being mediocre? Absolutely not. Could it be the Head Hog himself Sam Pittman? Is he the reason that Arkansas can’t perform up to expectations? I don’t think so. Is it a lack of talent? More talent would help, but no I don’t think that’s it either. I believe Arkansas is cursed.

Apparently, I’m not the only one either. In an article in Sports Illustrated about the drama that seems to surround the Razorback Football program, George Schroeder states The Reverend Billy Graham had brunch at the Broyles house the morning of the big game and Coach Broyles, usually gentle, German Shepherd nipped Graham’s 11-year-old son. Broyles is quoted as saying “that’s why we lost” Could a dog really be the cause of why Arkansas seems to always be a day late and dollar short? I started thinking back to anything I could associate this supposed “curse”.

Some would argue that Arkansas has been given the short straw by the NCAA, particularly in scheduling and referees. Given the glaring examples of this theory, I have to say there is some merit to it. I asked a Razorback fan page on FB to give me examples of when they felt they were not given a fair shake by refs. I got multiple responses that did not include examples such as Clint Stoeners fumble, Reggie Fishin’ it in Atlanta or Quinn Grovey’s safety in Miami. Officiating had nothing to do with those. Instead, they brought up examples such as this:

“The 1971 Liberty bowl where Arkansas kicked a field goal for the win and officials said it was wide. It was not wide.”
“1982 SMU Ref called a phantom pass interference call when Hogs were tied 17 all. That ref never called a game again.”
"2009 Florida game where the ball advanced 5 yards on its own.”

While 5 yards was a bit of stretch, I did find video evidence to support this argument. In the 4th Quarter with 48 seconds remaining on the Arkansas 34-yard line, Florida had the ball on 1st and 10. Tim Tebow gets the snap and runs up the middle on a scramble. The camera shows he is stopped 2 yards behind the line to gain. The camera changes the scene to Caleb Sturgis the kicker for the Florida Gators as officials call for a measurement. The camera switches back and somehow the ball is a yard forward of the line to gain giving Florida the 1st down. The most recent example was the 2020 Auburn game where Bo Nix now with Oregon, fumbled the snap, picked it up, and then spiked it. The ball was free, and Arkansas clearly had possession. In a stunning turn of events, it was ruled that there was no clear recovery and Auburn kicked a Field Goal for the win as time expired. Is this a clear indication that the NCAA has it out for Arkansas? Maybe, but it most definitely raises some eyebrows. Believe the curse yet?

The most glaring example of “The Curse” is Bobby Petrino. In his four seasons with the Razorbacks, he went 34-17 including two back-to-back 6-2 seasons in the SEC. A motorcycle crash changed all that in 2012 and thus the downfall of Arkansas football began. Not counting John L Smith who was just thrown into the role, the two coaches to follow in Bielema and Morris would go a combined disgusting record of 33-52. Now you could argue that Petrino made that choice and the curse had nothing to do with it, and I would agree with you to a degree, but why Arkansas? Why would it have to be Arkansas head coach? 130 FBS programs and the one that this happens to is Arkansas?! For the record, If Sam Pittman could lead the Hogs to a 6-2 SEC record this upcoming season, they would throw him a parade. The curse strikes again.

Other programs are affected as well. Arkansas Basketball has had the best success we’ve seen since the Nolan Richardson days. Back-to-back Elite 8s and a Sweet Sixteen over the last three seasons however, there could have been much more. With a talented haul from the transfer portal and 3 McDonald’s All-American recruits, expectations were incredibly high for Arkansas and from the fanbase. Injuries to players such as Trevin Brazille and Nick Smith JR caused last years 5-star studded team to not live up to its full potential and left many Razorback fans thinking “what if?” Each draw in the NCAA tournament wasn’t forgiving either with the Razorbacks either having the runner up National Champion or the National Champion in their side of the bracket. Work of the curse? You decide.

The Baseball program has seen its fair share of proof the curse exists. If you google the 2018 College World Series, it will have an over that tells you Arkansas was shut out 5-0 in game 3 by record breaking freshman pitcher Kevin Abel who threw a complete game and thus helping his beavers with the College World Series. What it doesn’t say, and this is something that still haunts Hog fans to this day, is that Arkansas was an out away from winning the series in game 2 but a dropped foul ball that was very easily in play resulted in Arkansas having to play game 3. The three players that were in position to make the catch all made that same catch in foul territory multiple times in their lives, but on that day everyone on national TV saw 3 Arkansas players forget how to catch a routine foul ball in fair territory. Sure, Arkansas Baseball has seen successful since, but to have a national championship ripped from you in that way was like ripping your freshly born newborn baby out of your arms. Heart-wrenching. The curse at its finest.

So, what’s next for Arkansas? Arkansas will keep pressing on and pushing forward. Curse or no curse. The state of Arkansas will continue to pull for their Hogs even if disappointment is inevitable. Is Arkansas doomed forever? I hope not. Can the curse ever be lifted? I sure hope so. If anyone could send a good priest or pastor that would be willing to come do a cleansing, I would be forever in your debt.

Until then, Go Hogs anyways.

1 comment

1 Comment

George Hancock
George Hancock
Jun 10, 2023

The curse is alive and well. 😞😞😞 WPS! Go Hogs!

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