Advice For Red Wolves Fans: Stop Hating, Start Living

Pork Shank Redemption’s unvarnished and unsolicited advice to Arkansas State University Red Wolves fans on building your brand and growing your program.
State legislators, feel free to read along at your leisure.

Ordinarily, bad blood in sports is reserved for the most bitter rivals. This angst is forged over generations, in on-field battles, high-profile recruiting tussles, botched mascot assassination attempts and healthy doses of fan smack.

The ASU v. University of Arkansas situation is somewhat of an anomaly in that only one of the former elements seems to be present—the smack. And even that is generally one-sided. The anger that emanates from some ASU fans is ironically borne not from competition, but from a lack of it.

ASU:Man, I really hate you. You’re so arrogant, coasting on inertia created in the 60’s and perpetuated by a media that’s in your back pocket.” 

UA: (looks up from watch) “I’m sorry, were you saying something?”

ASU:I said, I hate you!”

UA:I’m sorry, the fans in our state-of-the-art stadium were cheering, so I didn’t catch that. Did you need an autograph?  Or perhaps I could buy you a refreshing Pepsi product?

ASU:You are so unbelievably self-absorbed and condescending. But despite my visceral loathing, it would be kind of cool if you could throw me a bone and schedule a game with me so I can raise the profile of my program, grab some of your recruits and a few of your fans and eventually chop off your head and drink your blood. Preferably in front of a live ESPN audience. Is that something you might be interested in?”

This aggression among Arkansas State University Red Wolves fans has been simmering since 1987, when Razorback guard Cannon Whitby wrung every ounce of magic from his glorious tube socks, knocking down multiple three pointers in a dramatic win over ASU in the National Invitational Tournament. That game showed that ASU could compete with the UA on a big stage. A game that the erstwhile Indian probably should have won. But they didn’t. And they took it hard.

Flash forward 25 years and that hate towards the Razorbacks is more palpable than ever.

Perhaps it’s the recent uptick of ASU Red Wolves football. Or maybe it was the gravitas that came with having a bonafide star on the sideline in Gus Malzahn. Either way, A-State fans seem more emboldened and more angry than ever.

Hog fans and Red Wolves fans certainly don’t have to like one another. But who is to say we have to despise each other either.

Here are three simple tips ASU fans can heed to keep that from happening:

  • Stop being so needy. Just because you’re an underdog, doesn’t mean you can’t be the coolest underdog in the world. Think Lloyd Dobler, played by John Cusak in Say Anything. You are probably not going to get the coveted football game with the University of Arkansas. So stop groveling for it. Besides, even if you got the game against the Hogs, I doubt it would be as transformative as you think, even if you won—which this year, you would have. It takes decades to build a brand, so keep working on your own and stop worrying about the other guy’s.
  • Stop being so mean. You can’t expect to convert middle-of-the-road Arkansas fans when every time the Hogs stumble you are there waiting to yuck it up. The more you do that, the more people have to take sides. When people take sides, history dictates they will take the side of the more successful program. When A-State fans openly reveled in Huge Freeze-led Ole Miss beating the Razorbacks, it just came off as petty and sad. Fans who would cheer for the coach who jilted them a year earlier, leaving the school coachless before their most significant game in years, is curious to say the least. Had ASU landed Petrino instead of Harsin has a head coach, I don’t think Hog fans would have rooted Bobby or ASU’s demise. Maybe rooted for an incurable STD but not football misfortune.
  • Stop being so unrealistic.  A-state had a great run in the 80s as a Division I-AA power, but between then and now it’s been a barren wasteland – reminiscent of the current state of Razorback basketball. Now, with back-to-back great seasons under your belt, it’s only natural to have a little swagger. But just temper it with some patience. You can’t become the Boise State of the south in a few seasons. More like a few decades. So, as much as it hurts, bide your time.

The future is bright at ASU. It looks like you have another smart, young coach. You can still openly drink Coca-Cola products in your stadium. And, above all, your brand has more awareness than ever. For now, let that be enough.

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  • ASUFanRules

    Thanks for the one-sided and condescending analysis of a situation you clearly don’t understand.

    • http://www.porkshankredeption.com porkshankredemption

      Lived in this state 40 plus years…know people on both sides and from the looks of this comment thread, I know plenty.

  • Howl On

    Wow. How incredibly bold of you to think assume every ASU fan shares that viewpoint you so elegantly painted. What an absolute joke. Two Arkansas politicians don’t represent the entire fan base in reality, but merely in practice. I feel like the Razorbacks would need this game more than Arkansas State now, with the need for it increasing every year Arkansas State is successful. Especially as long as they’re getting smashed to bits in the SEC consistently.

    • Andrew

      Since when have we consistently been smashed to bits? Last I checked first year coaches generally don’t fare well anywhere throughout the league…

      • Scooter

        Hmmm…Arkansas has been in the SEC for 22 years now, and I don’t see any conference championships listed for the football team during that time. I think Hugh Freeze did pretty well in his first year at Ole Miss, but that’s no surprise…he came from ASU.

      • porkshankredemption

        are we really going to say since A state one a conference title that trumps no SEC conference championships…you won the sun belt..that’s like being the tallest midget.

        I’m sure even Hugh Freeze would openly admit that he is so successful now because he lived in a rent house in jonesboro for six months while he constantly looked for other jobs.

      • Barry

        Scooter

        Before it’s over Hugh Freeze will own the hogs and they know it. Georgia redwolf

    • http://www.porkshankredemption.com porkshankredemption

      the razorbacks need this game more than STATE…wow, delusion is thy name…

  • Clark

    1987 has nothing to do with anything. And Sports is not the most central issue, it’s merely the most public face of it.

    Legislators are free to read along.

    We are a state with few resources. The allocation of those resources between UA and ASU, UAM, UCA, UAPB, UALR, SAU, ATU have historically been skewed and remain so today.

    ASU fought hard to achieve university status against opposition. We kept fighting until it finally happened and opened the door for everyone else.

    We fought hard to be allowed to offer doctoral degrees.

    In sports we fought hard to get out out of FCS and back into FBS when we were forced down with the split. It was a difficult and painful journey in the 90′s but we did not stop like so many others did.

    We have the second lowest athletic budget in FBS and yet are back-to-back champions of our league against programs with much higher budgets and much higher populations. We do more with less and get more bang for our buck. We have to…we have no choice.

    We make our money playing Oregon, Texas, Texas A&M, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia Tech etc. in an effort to try to keep our student athletic fees lower than many others.

    We are in a city of about 75,000 and we have between 20,000 and 30,000 people show up for a game and yet have to listen to garbage over and over about how we don’t have any support in our own town. Bite me.

    We have been fighting, scratching, and clawing since 1909 and we have zero intention of “knowing our place”. We haven’t found our “place” yet.

    The State of Arkansas needs more than one National Research University. The State of Arkansas needs every one of its universities to be moving UP the national academic rankings. Every Arkansas university needs to be cooperating with one another. If they can’t bring themselves to do that then they at least need to stay the heck out of each others way and not be an obstacle.

    Keep your game if it offends you. Give it to The Citadel, Jacksonville State, etc. if that excites you more. You can do your own scheduling. More and more Red Wolves fans are moving on from wanting to play UA anyway and I hope that trend continues.

    (p.s. I don’t simmer over 1987. It was an intense, nerve-wracking, heart-breaking, and enjoyable experience.)

    • paul boyd

      very well said sir.

    • charles cummings

      Absolutely. Why so many Razorback fans think that the entire ASU fanbase wants rhat “game” is beyond me. I don’t give a rat whether it ever occurs. I just don’t like the “policy” because it is silly, outdated, and totally biased against fellow in state institutions. If the policy is recinded and they decide to plat UCA instead of Arkansas State University then so be it.

    • porkshankredemption

      Like most people in this comment thread you looked at the words but didn’t read them. I never advocated for or against “The Game.” Just said most hog fans are tired of hearing you whine about it.

      As for the whole sad, pulling yourself up by your boot straps for state funding thing, the U of A athletic department is completely self sufficient, eg. isn’t funded by tax dollars, so that falls in deaf ears.

      • tim

        If hog fans are tired of the “whining” then tell the UA adminstration to stop being pussies and play them. You play other Sun Belt and FCS teams. There is “whining” because you claim to be the state’s team when you shy away from instate competition. Why is the UA so scared?

  • ASUfan

    Wade, put your teeth back in and get outside a bit. The hate isn’t just from ASU. It’s from all areas, especially in the media, and you are a good example. You spill hatred in every paragraph, yet, don’t even realize it.

    • porkshankredemption

      When you lead with put your teeth back in, I think I can safely lump you in with hateful crowd and assume rational conversation is out the window.

  • paul boyd

    Then Arkansas stop playing the rest of the Sun Belt Conference