Coming soon to an October near you.
If you've ever watched a TV show, you know the love triangle storyline. A new figure, usually attractive but loathsome, emerges to disrupt the relationship between a generally happy couple. It begins with the new person flirtatiously engaging in conversation with one of the original couple. The poor sucker on the other end of the relationship is oblivious to the whole thing until the issue is forced at some point in the near future and the couple breaks up in favor of the new, exciting, and almost always unhealthy relationship. At no point was this situation more brilliantly portrayed than the famous Zack-Kelly-Jeff storyline on Saved By The Bell in the early 90s.
Last week, when Jeff Long was interviewed on Bo Mattingly's radio show and he was asked about the possibility of Arkansas losing it's season finale with LSU so that LSU and Texas A&M could face each other, he said the conversations "must be happening somewhere. The conference has not had those conversations with me." Red. Flag. They've kissed. Now we're just waiting on the Costume Ball to formalize the break-up. But, like Zack, Hog fans will move on.
It will be okay because, as often as people refer to Arkansas being a manufactured rival for LSU, the same is true for Arkansas. The Razorbacks, fresh off a generations-deep rivalry with Texas, got planted with LSU at the end of each season. While there is a chunk of the Arkansas fan base that developed a healthy hatred for the Bayou Bengals, I never could muster up much heat. I've been to games in Baton Rouge twice, and quite enjoy the food, such as the cochon de lait I was invited to, and the drinks, such as the Tiger Fuel I helped myself to extra servings of. Tennessee was the team I started hating in the SEC, even before the Steornover. When the SEC killed our annual rivalry with them, I kind of floated around for a few years hate-free until Hootie went to Ole Miss and Gus and Dyer went to Auburn.
But no fan would ever say the rivalry with LSU approached what the Hogs had with Texas. In fact, 20 years later, there's still plenty of fans that continue to hate Texas more than anyone else. These are the fans who've already cleared their schedule for a trip to Fayetteville in 2021 when the Shorthorns are supposed to return to the Hill.
This, LSU fans anxious to renew your "rivalry" with the Aggies, is why you'll never be #1 in A&M's heart. Sure, the Aggies are going SEC crazy right now, and that will last a few years until they get too tired of getting their butts kicked by the Tigers. But at some point, like Jeff, they're going to start sneaking out to the club. A&M has a mistress two hours away in Austin. They're just taking a break right now.
I know this is true because, 20 years later, with the SEC unquestionably the best conference in America, when the Big 12 was near total collapse, there is still a vocal minority in Arkansas clamoring for the old days, wanting to join the Big 12 for the better geographic fit and the softer schedule, not to mention the history with the old SWC schools. So imagine how it will be down in Texas, where Aggies and Horns share the same neighborhoods, offices, schools and everything else. There will be plenty of pressure to renew that rivalry sooner rather than later. And on its traditional weekend, Thanksgiving.
But, hey, if LSU and A&M want to pretend they hate each other, who are we to stand in their way? Even though we all know LSU really hates Alabama right now, and they have some sort of irrelevant irritation with Ole Miss. And A&M is just searching for an identity the way Arkansas did in the 90s. Even legendary Zack Morris couldn't stop Kelly and Jeff's doomed romance.
So, LSU, it looks like we're headed back into the Costume Ball for our last dance. At least for a while. We had some good times. We'll be okay. We've got this annoying little thing up North named Tori Missouri. She's not as glamorous or memorable, or even likable as you, but mutual animosity between us is strong right now, so it will be fun. We may get to play in the snow, which will create some cool photos, even if it is very un-SEC. If Arkansas can overcome losing Texas, they can overcome losing LSU.
But we would like to continue playing on Friday. Even if it's a double-header with the LSU/A&M game. Keeping our game on Friday is more important than the opponent.
Doc Harper is the editor of ArkansasExpats.com and is a regular contributor to ArkansasSports360.com. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow his thoughts and observations on Twitter @doc_harper.