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Wooooo Pig Sooie
By Kristal L. Kuykendall

As a child growing up in Central Arkansas, I knew there were two times a week during the fall that I could not disturb my father: during Dallas Cowboys and Arkansas Razorback football games. It wasn't that I couldn't talk to him; I just couldn't expect to be heard. You all know exactly what I'm talking about. But for some reason, it never bothered me, at least not during the Arkansas games.

    The first thing I learned about sports was how to call the Hogs.


    People who've never heard it just cannot possibly understand. It renders chills in Arkansans — even those who don't necessarily love the Hogs, I believe.

Up North: College football stadiums hold 20,000.
Down South: High School football stadiums hold 20,000.

Up North: 5 days before the game you walk into the ticket office on campus and can still purchase tickets.
Down South: 5 months before the game you walk into the ticket office on campus and will still be placed on the waiting list for tickets.
    I never really cared whether the Razorbacks won their football games. Heck, during the early '90s, it was accepted as fact that the Razorback basketball teams would win more than lose, and the opposite was true for the football team.

    But it didn't matter.

    We Arkansans went to games or watched them on TV, cheered for the Hogs, had a damn good time, and got over it when we lost. It was the camaraderie and entertainment that mattered most, at least to me. And it was the goosebumps I got — and still get, to this very day — when I'm in the stadium, and the crowd, completely without provocation or leadership, calls the Hogs in perfect unison.

    Every state should have this sort of thing. It might not be possible for other states to have such a singular rallying cry, since most other states have more than one major university football team. (In Arkansas, the state's second-largest university in the capital city doesn't even have a football team, much less a major one.) When I moved to Lexington, Ky., several years ago, I was shocked to learn that they didn't have a "Wildcat call."

Up North: You ask "Where's the stadium?" When you find it, you walk right in with no line.
Down South: When you're near it, you'll hear it. On game day, it becomes the state's third largest city.

Up North: An hour before game time, the University opens the campus for game parking.
Down South: RV's sporting their school flags begin arriving on Wednesday for the weekend festivities. The real faithful begin arriving on Tuesday.

Up North: Raw meat on a grill, beer with lime in it, listening to local radio station with thetruck tailgate down.
Down South: 30-foot custom pig-shaped smoker fires up at dawn. Cooking accompanied by live performance by Atlanta Rhythm Section or Lynyrd Skynyrd, who come over during breaks and ask for a hit off your bottle of bourbon.
    I kind of felt sorry for them.

    I mean, they'd go to the games with their hidden bourbon bottles and scream and yell, but after about a quarter it got old. At least for me. I wanted to call the Hogs. I did like the Wildcats. I witnessed the arrival of Hal Mumme and his "Air Raid," and the short but starry college career of University of Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch.

    I wanted the Wildcats to do well with their new coach and their favorite homebred Kentucky son (who happened to be a "cutie patootie," as Rosie O' Donnell says).

    But watching the games without a loud, mobilizing battle cry just didn't seem right.

    In fact, it seemed downright boring. Or elitist, which even many UK students will admit is a fair description of some Lexington athletic events. (The "student section" is only about a mile away from the action; wealthy season-ticket holders unseat the students.)

    And then I moved back to Arkansas, earlier this year. I went to a bar recently to watch the Hogs take on . . . oh, I don't know. Somebody. I really went to the bar because I knew that at least 15 times during the game I'd be surrounded by a bunch of half-redneck idiots chanting "WOOOOOOOOOO, PIG, SOOIE!"

    It brought tears to my eyes.

    Go Hogs.

Kristal L. Kuykendall is a business reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. She's also worked as a copy editor in Lexington, Ky., and a freelance sports reporter in Central Arkansas.
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