Arkansas fans know the mantra well, “there’s always next year.” Well Razorback fans, next year has finally arrived. If Arkansas beats No. 1 LSU on Friday, it should be a lock for the BCS National Championship Game, a position unfamiliar to Razorback Nation in a long time.
The Razorbacks have not won a national championship in football since 1964 and have been long suffering fans every since. The potential impact of an Arkansas win over LSU would not only help the team, the university and the conference, but it would also award the loyal Arkansas Razorback fans as well.
Following the national championship team of 1964, in 1965 No. 2 Arkansas finished the season undefeated with a chance to win the national championship. The 10-0 Hogs were in line to win it all after No. 1 Michigan State lost to UCLA 14-12 in the Rose Bowl.
All the Hogs had to do is beat LSU in the Cotton Bowl. The Razorbacks would lose 14-7, and that would be the last time they would finish within a game of being college football’s national champions. There is an air of familiarity for Friday’s game against that same Tiger program.
If the Hogs win, they’re in. The impact of a win for the University of Arkansas would be immeasurable at this point. Immediate thoughts would include a jump in university enrollment, jersey and Razorback paraphernalia sales would spike, an increase in monetary donations and endowments to the school would follow, bigger recruiting doors would open across the board for all Arkansas athletic programs and a year’s worth of publicity by the national media for the Hogs would ensue.
More importantly what would a win over LSU mean to the Razorback Nation?
Feeling like the bridesmaid but never the bride, the Razorback fans have been loyal through the ups and downs of head coaches Jack Crowe, Joe Kines, Danny Ford, Houston Nutt, Reggie Herring (for one game) and Bobby Petrino and their players.
A victory would give the Hogs a chance to differentiate them from the rest of the SEC and lay claim to SEC elite status. This moment in time is something Razorback fans have been wanting since joining the SEC in 1992, a chance for legitimate SEC bragging rights.
The Hogs have yet to win a SEC Championship. Four times the Razorbacks have won or shared the SEC West Divisional Title representing the West in three of those years, 1995, 2002 and 2006.
In 1998, Arkansas did not play in the SEC Championship Game. All three SEC title games ended in a loss further punctuating the differences between the Razorback program and their SEC East counterparts in Florida and Georgia.
Despite having the SEC Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2006, and the National Coach of the Year in 1998 with former head coach Houston Nutt, Nutt could never take Arkansas to the next level in the SEC. Nutt’s closest shot was in 2006, a year that ended with three straight losses to Top 10 teams (LSU, Florida and Wisconsin) and a final record of 10-4. That downfall began with a 31-26 loss to the Tigers.
A win this year against LSU would also put Arkansas’ overall record in the SEC above .500. The Razorbacks are 77-77 in conference games since 1992 with a record of 136-100-2 overall. This would be just another step along the way for the Hogs to join the SEC elite while defeating one of their biggest rivals and college football nemesis.
With bragging rights, a possible SEC Conference Championship Game berth and a possible BCS National Championship Game berth on the line, this is what Razorback fans have been praying for. This opportunity is what the University of Arkansas hired Bobby Petrino for. This is what Petrino has done for Razorback fans in four short seasons.
The SEC has won five straight BCS National Championships, three of those won by SEC West rivals LSU in 2007, Alabama in 2009 and Auburn in 2010. This is Arkansas’ opportunity to add to the SEC streak and SEC West run for three straight.
Good luck to the Arkansas Razorback players and staff, you have the support of Razorback Nation behind you. We are ready to shake the feeling of being “snake bitten” year after year and ready to join college football’s elite.