A clash of cultures meet today in Arlington in the best stadium in the world. Arkansas, fresh off a loss to Alabama in Birmingham, and Texas A&M, riding high after a thorough pasting of the Tide in College Station.
It’s been years since anyone from the state of Texas has actually heard anything about the Razorback football program. Since Arkansas left the Southwest Conference, they have rarely been on television, they have received little or no newspaper coverage, and they have become a complete non factor in recruiting the state of Texas. The last time they got any media attention was when they ran off Houston Nutt, the best coach they have had since Lou Holtz was spraying people in Fayetteville.
Texas A&M has struggled in recent years as well. While struggling on the football field is expected for a school like Arkansas, it’s kind of baffling how a school like Texas A&M, with a market forty times the size of Arkansas’ market and a school two and half times larger than Arkansas can struggle like the Hogs do on the football field. These struggles are even more baffling when you take a look at socioeconomic and cultural data.
Arkansas, for instance, is known for Wal-Mart, the company that is most responsible for the trying economic times in the United States. Sam Walton’s minions of morally bankrupt hicks have gone into small town America and closed downtowns by selling crap made by eight year old Chinese girls working sixteen hour shifts. Texas A&M, on the other hand, is responsible for the United States winning both world wars, remaining competitive in Vietnam, cloning cats, and the animation in Finding Nemo. The vast cultural difference is mind boggling.
College football is about fun and pageantry, and that’s what we’ll all see today in Arlington. While the Florida – Georgia Tech game is known as the world’s largest cocktail party, this event at Cowboys Stadium could be known as the world’s largest forum on socioeconomic and cultural diversity. Jerry “Navin Johnson” Jones has created a Wal-Mart type money gouging event historians will study for years. As a wagon train of settlers make their way from Arkansas to Arlington for the game, a group of businessmen and upstanding citizens will check their email one last time before loading up their cars and making the short drive out to Arlington.
For this inaugural contest, the stadium management has decided to keep the two fan bases separate. Each school will have their own party plaza, and security will keep the Razorbacks in their own end zone and the Aggies on their own side. This is probably a smart move for the first game in this series. Let the two groups get used to each other, maybe sniff at each other a few times before letting them interact. As the movie Deliverance emphasized, some groups of people are just too different to be thrown into a social situation with each other without somebody getting hurt.
On the field, Arkansas hasn’t played a meaningful game in years. Texas A&M has struggled recently, but at least the Aggies have played in some big games. Since this will be the best football atmosphere the Razorbacks have seen in a decade, they may come out confused and a little simple. The Aggies will probably come out a little fired up and may need a series or two to to calm down. Expect a lot of offense and a lot of big plays in an 38-28 Aggie victory.