USC opens its season with the Arkansas State Red Wolves which is interesting only in that I had no idea this was actually a school until I looked at this year’s schedule. They seem like a wormhole. Like, wherever McConaughey went in Interstellar. Like, as if we had a game against a bad team we had actually heard about, say San Jose State or Idaho (oh wait, that’s next week) dropped off the schedule and we had to create a fictitious entity to play because football.
It’s like, when you see this on a Google search, your first thought is preseason basketball at Galen, right?
Was Sark drinking because he was ashamed of our first two games? The LA Times reported people sometimes drink because they are ashamed so it’s possible now USC has a drinking virus that is spreading to our schedule makers.
This is a hard school to begin a new feature about not losing football arguments with because there are many potential hurdles that exist at a first cursory glance:
- Will you ever encounter someone who went to Arkansas State in civilian life?
- If you did, would they admit it?
- If they admitted it, would they actually talk shit regarding football?
- If they actually did, would you have any difficulty defending yourself?
- If you actually did, how are you at the admittedly low reading level required to be reading this?
- If you are reading this and have a hard time defending yourself, are you a magical genius MENSA baby?
- If you are a magical genius MENSA baby, can my wife and I adopt you and skip the whole “birthing” thing?
For my first glance, the only tangible benefit to this game is playing a team with vaguely the same colors and from vaguely the same region as Alabama, our opener next year. It’s probably helpful to hear the kind of backwater trash talk we can expect from a team called the Crimson Tide with an Elephant as a logo that isn’t on their helmet because they have a tradition of making sure their fans have an easy time saying “that number 28 there is fast”.
Forrest Gump got into Bama. Just saying.
Back to business.
I’m going to break these BFMs into three categories: School, Football Tradition and Current Events.
So, let’s start.
Let’s acknowledge the 300 pound elephant in the room. Arkansas State is actually a real school. Wikipedia describes its creation by saying: “A-State was founded as the First District Agricultural School in Jonesboro in 1909 by the Arkansas Legislature as a regional agricultural training school.”
I want to take a minute to ask USC why we’re playing a regional agricultural training school that isn’t Texas A&M, who at least open us up to a plethora of Johnny Manziel jokes, plus the virtual treasure trove of Aggie Jokes our frenemies at Texas have been perfecting for years. A favorite was a prop I saw when I was a kid living in Dallas. My friend’s dad had a brick next to his wet bar (he was pretty rad). The brick just said “Aggie Bowling Ball” – we don’t even have these jokes because I’m sure there’s not even a bowling alley near Arkansas State.
Nevermind. They do.
Unless Coach Taylor shows up and stops Riggins from drinking and running away and then he runs for twelve touchdowns, this parking lot makes me so depressed in a way I don’t even want to explain. Like the Grapes of Wrath (which wasn’t about wine, that was Sideways).
Making fun of Arkansas State, even for the things it deserves to be made fun of, just makes me feel like an asshole. Perhaps, it’s teaching me sympathy in hopes that one day I may know true empathy. I keep looking at that world and I picture a Disney princess like Arielle or Jasmine leaving Jonesboro and staring at a traffic light asking, “How do they feed the fireflies that make the lights change color?”
OH GOD THE LOATHING. I SHOULD STOP NOW.
But I won’t because screw these guys, their state flag looks like someone was trying to draw the Confederate Flag in MS Paint and gave up because getting the stars straight inside the bars was too hard and “I’m not a scientist, Hank.”
There are only 70,000 or so alumni for this university, so even if they traveled everyone ever affiliated with this school to the Coliseum, we wouldn’t be able to fill it up. That is more depressing than watching some lonely guy at an Arby’s take out his dentures to gum on a roast beef and cheddar.
I need a prozac to finish this post.
There’s one thing this powerhouse does share with a big time academic school on the west coast. Just like the Stanford Cardinal, they ditched a vaguely racist Native American mascot name to something that makes no sense at all. While Stanford went from Indians (still better than the Redskins) to the Cardinal (which is just a dumb ass name for a team possibly based on the color of a bird and/or religious figure), these Arkansas State folks changed from the Indians to a breed of wolf that according to Wikipedia doesn’t exist in the South, let alone Arkansas. Worse, this school intends to teach you agriculture and general shit-that-happens-outdoorsiology so, seems like pick a local wolf. Like Portland does with cheeses.
Still, the Wolf is better than “Runnin’ Joe” or “Jumpin’ Joe”- their racist mascot from before they picked a non-local wolf to rep them. I mean there are some proud indian mascots out there that look like they came from gorgeous paintings that should hang in museums. Then there’s mascots that look like racists doodles done by racist toddlers based on racists movies from the 50s because that’s all they have at the still-open Hollywood Video in Jonesboro.
He’s depicted here jumping and holding what I think is a scalp, but I do not claim to be an expert on racist mascots as my teams are named after an Iliad era city state’s denizens, the people who used to dodge trollies in near Ebbets Field, trees, and lakes from a state the team no longer resides in.
Not saying the original Brooklyn Bum was the classiest thing ever, but let’s keep it real. Other than the totally visually kickass black and white on red color palette here, this is the most ridiculous thing to represent something in Arkansas since the Arkansas flag itself:
At least I thought.
Then I found this penis-shaped mascot (or hot dog) they were using for a while.
Also made in Microsoft Paint 97 and inexplicably exposing his genitals wearing a bow tie and open tuxedo jacket is Red, who looks like genitals in general and maybe a little bit like Nickelodeon’s Doug. You can make the argument that his left leg proves he’s not naked under that coat, but you can’t make the argument he isn’t a reanimated, smiling penis personified.
If you can, please do so in the comments and tell me what number of the 70,000 proud ASU Indian Penises alumni you are. And then explain to me how I can sleep at night after seeing him in real life. There’s not enough bourbon in Portland (and we have a lot of it).
When that didn’t work out, the school “slowly phased out” – (their words, not mine) everything and went and brought in what appears to be a crying Red Wolf (again, not from Arkansas) and dressed him as an Indian because if you are from a state that can’t quite commit to giving up the confederate flag, why not change from a racist indian depiction to a penis in a tuxedo to a wolf dressing like an indian. Or a sniper in a really, really loudly colored gillie suit.
No wonder he is literally always crying. He’s so, so, so confused.
And look, I get it. The Red Wolf, or canis rufus (rhymes with penis, explains previous mascot) does look a little like it’s always crying.
But it also doesn’t live in Arkansas. It mainly lives on the east coast and Florida, though technically some have been found as far away from Texas. Thing is, if you pick a wolf, why not a wolf local to you. I mean you aren’t going with something clearly not where you are from. Like Trojans. Or Dragons. I mean, give the Bruins some credit (just this once). California and bears in general are pretty synonymous. I mean, our not confederate state flag as a pretty kick ass one right there on it.
But I figured out why Arkansas State chose them. There are only about 100 of them left in the wild. Like alumni of Arkansas State, barely any of these creatures exist.
Like all Sun Belt teams, the Red Wolves are a team we only know as week eight opponents of SEC for their convenient locations and status as teams that love getting shamed in public. They are the reality tv stars of the college football world. Don’t care if we look silly, we just care that you know we exist. I’m talking to you Coastal Carolina Chanticleers.
And you South Alabama Jaguars (because Southern Alabama Jaguars was just too formal and show-offy):
Seriously, the Sun Belt is like where bad Hollywood writers go to create the fictitious college team names for shows on the WB. Only the most depressing college football fan could quickly spout off who these initials represent and I just gave you three of them.
These read like STDs.
Look, unless you watch SEC football and remember their week eight opponents (you know, the week we normally are playing the Oregons and Notre Dames of the world), you have only heard of one school in this conference.
That’s Appalachian State, who beat Michigan that one time before millenials were a thing, and the main takeaway from that game is we now know how to pronounce Appalachian as a word and have a cultural Appalachian reference that isn’t from the movie Deliverance.
STOP THINKING ABOUT DELIVERANCE, shudder.
Arkansas State, who I still don’t know why we are playing them, have been playing some form of football since 1911 and since then have played at every level of college division from D1 (where they currently are) to whatever the hell the lowest division was before television existed. They have actually been dropped from D1 before and then came back up. They are the Barclay’s Premier League equivalent of Bournemouth. Vaguely familiar and sometimes in the top division but relegated, forgotten, returned.
This explains their Sun Belt time. It’s from Wikipedia and it’s depressing me to even read it:
During the 2005 football season, Arkansas State finished the regular season as Sun Belt Conference champions with a 6–5 record and played in the New Orleans Bowl, which they lost to Southern Mississippi. In 2011, the Red Wolves again finished as Sun Belt Conference champions with a 10–2 record and played in the GoDaddy.com Bowl, losing to Northern Illinois. In 2012, the Red Wolves finished as Sun Belt Conference champions for the 2nd year in a row with a 9-3 record and played in the GoDaddy.com Bowl against #25 Kent State, winning the game 17-13. In 2013, the Red Wolves again finished as Sun Belt Conference champions for the 3rd straight year with a 7-5 regular season record and again played in the renamed GoDaddy Bowl, defeating Ball State 23–20.
Damnit. If we somehow lost this game, I’m done. Maybe forever. They’d make a Disney movie about it if they didn’t have a racist legacy of penis mascots. Disney would say they were the Tigers. I wish the school would too.
NOT VERY MANY. I mean, seems like they have some injury problems. Seems like they are about to decide on a backup QB.
It also seems like they forgot to finish building the rest of their stadium and despite the fact it’s built into a bowl of grass, the field is turf.
Well. That’s all. I’m sorry in advance for Idaho next week, but come Stanford, we’re going to bring out the weapons. I just can only shoot fish in a barrel so much before we’re dealing with a bucket of poke. Or chum.
IN OTHER NEWS
If you are in Portland this weekend, please go see The Business of Amateurs. Many of you Kickstarted the film. College football is a sport we all love and for the sake of the game, we need to start caring for these players long term. They give up their bodies for our entertainment and most don’t make a career out of it.
This film is important and made my a former Trojan football player Bob DeMars. It covers all levels of the NCAA’s shameless lack of compassion and captures some of the final days of USC legend Scott Ross (who played next to Junior Seau).
Push you school, especially USC for my readers, to keep honoring the recognition these players bring our schools and the pride they bring our alumni.
If you are in Portland, click here to buy tickets.