This past week I was in John L. Smith's Arkansas for the first time to visit family and was on the lookout for signs that the state was living in a post-Petrino world. As was seen when the scandal was relatively new, I didn't see guys with blowup blonde dolls on the back of their motorcycles. I also didn't see any Hog fans sitting in ashes and screaming to the heavens, why us? Could imagine it, but didn't see it. However, I did see one truck between Pine Bluff and Little Rock that had a Razorback license plate with the running Hog turned upside down. Like an upside down American flag, was this a sign of distress for Razorback Nation? I checked to see if there were any LSU or Ole Miss stickers anywhere. But, no. Just an unhappy Hog fan, I believe, expressing his discontent by turning his front plate upside down.
Between Little Rock and Fort Smith there has been a billboard celebrating the past king's rule. But I didn't do a good job looking for it, so I can't say if the huge billboard praising Bobby Petrino still stands or not. Maybe one of you who regularly goes down that piece of interstate can fill us in if that monument to the Petrino era still stands or not.
The sports broadcasts on the local Little Rock channels had some John L. Smith material about what a different personality John L. is from Bobby Petrino. The radio stations were running with the same theme. I am not saying that the new coach is already at the Houston Nutt level of colorful, but it does seem like as a program lately we have swung back and forth between Mr. Cold Fish (Petrino & Ford) and Mr. Excitement (Smith & Nutt). Suffice to say, the new head Hog was getting plenty of media attention, which is what you expect at the beginning of a new reign, short though it may be.
War Memorial is still standing. I know that is either good news or bad depending upon which fan you are talking to. The huge "Go Hogs Go" sign above the interstate outside of Atkins is still running high over the road. Though I didn't go to Fayetteville, I have assurances that all our structures there survived Petrino's downfall.
Bobby Petrino, just not too many weeks ago, was a rock solid part of the Razorback football program, and look how quickly that all crumbled. Before I left the state, I came across two other reminders of how you can go from adored to ignored in the world of Razorback sports. I spotted an old Lou Holtz doll, rather beat up, and looking unwanted amongst other clutter in an off ramp antique mall. A more recent example, I came across a Matt Jones doll, still in the package, in a Forth Smith junk store. Yeah, I didn't know such a thing existed. He was in his Jacksonville uniform, and the dealer was wanting over thirty bucks for him. I don't think Matt has rehabilitated his statewide image after the cocaine arrest and the undistinguished NFL career yet to the point of thirty bucks for his plastic image.
After the jump you'll find a very apropos poem by that follower of all things SEC football, haha, Percy Bysshe Shelley, 19th century British poet and insightful analyst of the plight of emperors, dictators, and college football coaches.
I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.