Sunday, February 19, 2006

Snortin' Fartin' Hog - UNMASKED

I guess it is about time I explained the title and URL of my blog. First of all, I must explain that Arkansans are sports fanatics, in a state where there are no professional sports teams and the only Division I college teams that we have on which to hang our collective hat are those of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where my wife and I both attended college.

My father graduated from the U of A back in the 1950s, and being a small town boy who fought his way into college, and then found his way into a fraternity and eventually became president of that fraternity, my father was indeed a proud alumnus of the University of Arkansas, and a fierce devotee of the Razorbacks, and passed that love on to me at an early age. I remember him teaching me the 'Razorback Fight Song' before I could read, and I knew all the words to most of his fraternity's songs before I was a teenager. So, it naturally followed that I would attend the U of A as well.

When my time to enter college came around, it was the mid 1980's, and the football team was enjoying a bit of a resurgence and was at that time still a member of the now-defunct Southwest Conference. As anyone who attended a southern university knows, football was, and is, the lifeblood of collegiate sports down here and, well, embodies the spirit of the school as a whole. But even with its rally in the 1980's, it was and still is a far cry from the glory of the U of A's National Chamionship year of 1964.

Basketball had its own resurgence in the 1990's. The winning ways were brought back to the University by a visionary coach, Nolan Richardson. He was new, he was brash, he was unconventional, and he had a huge chip on his shoulder. The perfect makings for a great coach. In 1991 the U of A joined the SouthEastern Conference, the SEC, and over the next decade had the most successful winning percentage of any Division I Basketball team in that decade, including a National Championship in 1994, and a National Chamionship Runner-up in 1995. All good things must come to an end, and Nolan was abruptly fired after a controversial spate of outspokenness on his part regarding the athletic director. But, not until changing the enitre face of college basketball as we now know it.

Richardson's arch-nemesis in the SEC was the University of Kentucky and its coach Rick Patino. Patino was and is great in his own right, but when Nolan entered the SEC, Patino no longer was the golden boy. Over the next 10 years or so Arkansas was the ONLY Southeasten Conference team to have a winning record over Kentucky. AND, after the first few years of playing Nolan, you could see Patino's style try to change to match Nolan's '40 Minutes of Hell' style defense and 'huevos' style of offense. You will see, to this day, a variation of that offense played by the majority of college basketball teams accross the country. Richardson was an innovator and went the way of many innovators and people we don't understand, with a chips on their shoulders: into anonymity.

Now, how did I become Snortin' Fartin' Hog? Well, Belinda's dad was a Razorback. And when I say that I mean that he played basketball for the University of Arkansas in the late 1950's. In fact, my wife reminds me, he played starting forward on the FIRST Razorback basketball team to ever win a Conference (at that time Southwest Conference) championship. He wore that ring until the letters were barely visible, then wore it still. He was, needless to say, a huge Razorback fan, and he and I had much fun trying to show each other who could find the most outrageous accoutrement of Hog fandom.

As some of you know out there, Universities will change their athletic logos every few years, just so you can't feel comfortable with what you have already bought, and will need to buy more. Anyway, Belinda's father had several car magnets for his truck portraying a galloping Hog, blowing hot breath from his nostrils and leaving a trail of dust behind. I just had to have some. So, I went out and bought some magnets for my truck. But, when I got home, lo and behold, my magnetic Hogs were the new logo.
"Heh heh heh," he chuckled. He loved it. "Bet you wish you had some of those snortin', fartin' hogs like I've got, don'tcha? They don't make 'em like that anymore." But through perseverence, I did find some, and with the acquisition of my very own "snortin', fartin' hogs," became a true son-in-law.

I loved that man not only as the father-law that he was, but as the friend and role model he became.

I have had two men, my father and Belinda's father who have both made indelible impacts on my life in many ways. Both of them are gone now. Not too many years apart. I can just see them up there in Heaven now looking down on my little family: me, Belinda and Bella and seeing how well we are doing. They can see how all that they taught us is helping us to be a happy family.

Every time I watch the Hogs play I can just imagine them up there there in Heaven together cheering.

Those men were Razorback fans.

Daddy and Bella

Bella and Mommy


Blogger nita said...

sports / blahblahblah / more sports / blahblahblah / yay! cute baby pictures and if that's not mrs ninja boy are you going to have more room out your butt to fart and snort.


10:29 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

nita - My wife learned to accept that my love of the Razorbacks came from my love for my father. Sports are ALWAYS second to my wife and child, but will always hold a spot in my heart.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Celena said...

Ha ha, I'm with Nita.. sports blah blah blah, CUTE BABY PHOTOS! And I'm so glad to finally see a good close up shot of Belinda! I've been wondering what she looks like for awhile! Your (her) wedding photos are beautiful, but they were taken so far away, that I could never figure out what Belinda looks like! (ok, I'm SO sounding like a weird stalker.. umm.. don't mind me)

12:33 AM  
Blogger Belinda said...

I couldn't go to a Razorback game without hyperventilating a few years ago. Too many people, too much noise, etc. It's a lot better now that Alex helped explain some stuff to me--like I no longer think the officials are returning the ball to "the prettiest spot on the field."

And what really shocks me is how much I love watching Jermain Taylor BOX. Me. Watching boxing. And loving it. Go figure.

1:35 AM  
Blogger Britt said...

I am proud to say that I attended the U of A and became the HUGE Snortin, Fartin, Hog fan that I was destined to become. My dad started as wide receiver for the Razorbacks in the fall of 1965 so as you can imagine it was pretty ingrained into me as well. Even though I live in Texas now, I still have 1) Razorback Red Car 2) Razorback Plate Frame. Two staples that I cannot live without.

Thank you for teaching B that No they infact are NOT taking the ball back to the prettiest place on the field.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous lynettemil said...

Alex, I am moved. You certainly did have two role models. You did become that "good man" you wanted to be and you found that "good woman" that you wanted. Love, Mom

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Mom-in-law said...

OK, Alex. You made me cry, talking about my man. Although I was in the 5th grade when Zane joined the Razorback basketball program, and had absolutely no exposure to that program until I married him when I was 17, I believe he played guard. Defense was his life! I saw him play AAU ball and he was aggressive on the boards, commanding respect whenever he had possession of the ball and could clear a circle a mile wide with his elbows and knees when he came down with a rebound. He was unselfish with his teammates, always valuing a team win more than a personal best. He truly loved the game. I wish you could have seen him in action and I wish I could have seen him when he was playing for the school he loved.
He could never have too many "Razorback red" clothing items and accessories. He would have been happy to know that you inherited them. Wear them in his and your dad's memory as you root for their beloved Hogs!
I love my Hog-fan-son-in-law!

10:45 PM  
Blogger Belinda said...

I still think he played forward, at least part of the time, because of conversations we had looking at that team picture, and marvelling at how, in the 50's, you could pick him out easily as the tallest guy on the team. And he was like 6'4"-6'5". And the comment was, that on today's teams, he'd be among the shorter guys, and would be a point guard!

But I could have imagined the whole thing. So if Alex had his info wrong, it's my fault.

But internets: that is my MOM up there talking smack about basketball! What is UP with that? "...clear a circle a mile wide and command respect..."???? The woman never ceases to amaze me. I keep telling Alex she could probably hold her own against him in a game of one-on-one. Or at least HORSE.

2:41 AM  
Anonymous Judy B. said...

I too at first thought "yikes sports!" but as I read more and more I saw the same type of relationship that my husband developed with our sons through his love of sports. All three sons are sport fanatics just like Dad, I've learned to cope after 34 yrs of this.

As you were talking about going to the games, I was remembering the photos of Bella as a baby with both of you at the game. Glad to see them here.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

I strolled over from Belinda's. What a great post and blessing that you had two such great dads in your life.
As a sometimes collegiate sports fan (Badgers, not Hogs, though;), I am even more in awe of your FIL. And, I adore those pics of Bella as a baby fan!!

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

What a wonderful post! My dad is a UC Berkeley graduate, and we went to more Bears games than I can remember, and I found them so exciting! Keep taking Bella -- she'll learn to love and appreciate sports. I ended up with a true passion for baseball after my dad's co. bought season tickets to the Oakland A's -- I'm still a baseball nut!

My Papa is still with us, and spry, and I've already informed both him and my mother that they need to be at least 120 so I can live a full life and not have to be put in a straight jacket when they pass on!!!

Belinda's mom -- you are quite the writer! Might we see a "Belinda's Mom's Blog" soon? I very much appreciated your description of your husband. What a wonderful man you married, wonderful daughter you raised, wonderful man she married, and then she gave birth to one of the cutest little girls ever. Those searching blue eyes are traffic-stopping!

10:58 PM  
Blogger Ariel said...

Man, what a great tribute to your father and father-in-law...and the Razorbacks. I admire the NCAA hoops love I sense in this post. If only you were a Jayhawk fan.

It's also amazing to discover Belinda's husband blogs. Now I can hear both sides of the marital drama.

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