We all have that one friend who has a singular flaw which really seems to always work its way to the front when we converse.
Perhaps they always borrow money, insult the waitstaff BEFORE your wings arrive to the table, or want to rant throughout the fourth quarter about whether or not they took the vaccination.
Enter Will Vaughan.
With all due respect to him, many of you have probably never heard of Mr. Vaughan (henceforth referred to as “Will” because the extra ‘A’ in Vaughan triggers my spell check), yet you know someone like him.
If you do not, you definitely should. Will serves his country, is hard-working, and, alongside his beautiful wife and respectful children, is dedicated to his community and their school.
Cool and calm during even the most intense local high school games, you may not even notice he is on the row behind you, but if you have ever engaged in conversation with this man, you will quickly deduce he is cordial, respectful, and obviously successful. Not much rattles Will.
No, he is not perfect. As mentioned, like every close acquaintance, he does have at least one flaw, and the fact he wears purple and gold on Saturdays exposes his imperfection like Bret Bielema’s windbreaker at a cross-fit championship. Despite claiming roots in Waldron, Arkansas, Will is a staunch LSU Tigers Football fan.
He murmured something once about being born and living in Bossier City, Louisiana until 1984, but I did not want to hold him accountable for something out of his control.
As this game between Arkansas and LSU drew close on the schedule, I began to ponder about this week’s write-up. And as I prepared for my annual “Interview with an LSU Tigers Fan” piece I knew of no one better than Will to share the thoughts of southern opponent. Therefore, without further delay.
Pete: After leading the Tigers to a national championship in 2019, it was announced a few weeks ago Ed Orgeron and the LSU Football Program will be parting ways at the end of 2021. As a fan, what are your thoughts on why and how this decision was made, and what will be the short-term effects, especially as the university searches for a new head coach?
Will: My initial thought was it may be an excuse to separate themselves from the previous sexual assault investigations that were present during Les Miles’ last few months and Coach O’s first year as their coach. So with their new athletic director, this may have been part of the issue. They (mostly the media) have also been saying Coach O’s personal life and his current girlfriend have been a distraction and compromised his focus on the job. Most of the team has denied these allegations. Personally, I believe the new AD doesn’t care for him and is using Orgeron’s record this season as an excuse to part ways with him so the AD can bring in his own guy. I mean, you do not see Clemson kicking Dabo Swinney to the curb because of their record so far this year.
Pete: Arkansas coach Sam Pittman seems to have the Razorbacks quickly headed in the right direction when it comes to recruiting and wins on the field. As a fellow SEC member, what is your opinion of Pittman, and how would his success impact the conference?
Will: I’m a Sam Pittman fan, and I’m glad he is the coach of the Razorbacks. He is a great fit for this program. I believe any success an SEC coach has is nothing but positive for this conference. They have a long legacy as a powerhouse conference. As far as recruits in the SEC, what’s good them is if one conference team does not pursue their talents, they could possibly elect to go to another school in the conference and prove why the prior program should have recruited them.
Pete: Do you see LSU vs Arkansas as a rivalry? Or do you see the Golden Boot merely as a token for a game that used to be held annually on Rivalry Week?
Will: I definitely see the LSU/ARK game as a rivalry and always will. The made up “Battle Line” rivalry (between Missouri and Arkansas) is a joke, and I believe most fans on both sides believe that as well. I say it every year: one team could be undefeated and the other 0-10 and you still wouldn’t know who the winner would be going into the game. I just hope they don’t shift around the SEC when OU and Texas come over in a way where LSU and Arkansas do not play each other anymore.
Pete: Who brings the Golden Boot home this year and why?
Will: LSU (but I’m biased, obviously). The Razorbacks are already bowl bound and still have a lot for which to play, but I believe LSU has more. One reason is to get Coach O another Boot win and another is to get one game closer to a bowl while finishing out the season strong. “One team, one heartbeat” will prevail. LSU 24, ARK 21.
Pete: Nice of you to keep the score prediction close. Your wife is an Arkansas fan, correct? Tell the truth, if LSU wins, how long are you sleeping in the doghouse?
Will: Yes she is. In fact, my wife, her sister, my brother-in-law, my brother and sister, grandfather, aunts, and uncles are all University of Arkansas alumni. I’m definitely the black sheep. I’ve always said, you cannot go into Razorback Stadium, hear the fans Call the Hogs, and see the electricity there without leaving a fan in one form or fashion. I do pull for the Hogs to win except when they play LSU. Every year, during the week before the game, I give out just as much as I get. My car gets vandalized with the “Beat LSU” signs and traditional anti-Tigers decoration. When LSU wins, I usually do not gloat a whole lot at home, work or church; however, when LSU loses, I do not hear the end of it until the next time they play. It has been this way most of my life, so I am good with that. It’s all in fun… unless LSU loses…
Pete: Thank you for your time and responses, Will. Good luck this Saturday.
Will: No problem, and have I told you you’re the best writer I have ever read?
Pete: Yes, but not enough.
Standing over 4-feet tall and being made of 24-karat gold, the Golden Boot – awarded as a traveling bragging right to the winner of the LSU-Arkansas game each season – is said to be the heaviest rivalry trophy in college football.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Where does the Golden Boot reside throughout the year following a Razorbacks victory?
Three of the latter quotes from the interview with Will may have been fabricated by an egotistical writer.
I do have a soft spot in my heart for Ed Orgeron. Maybe it’s the way he reminds me of an old man needing a suction catheter when he says, “Go Tigahs.”
I had a long discussion earlier today with a co-worker from Omaha. They rated the most obnoxious fans who come to the college world series. Guess who was first? LSU.
After noticing the lack of a mention of the Crimson Tide, I decided to ask if, like football, Alabama Baseball fans were annoying. My co-worker simply replied they had never met any.
So much is on the line Saturday as LSU tries to become bowl eligible while Arkansas seeks to validate their win over Mississippi State.
A special shout-out to long-time reader and LSU fan Matt Breland. Many of you may remember Matt from previous pieces. Like Will, Matt is another one of those guys with whom when you interact once you have made a lifetime ally even football cannot divide.
TRIVIA ANSWER: If even a single Razorbacks fan is not aware the Golden Boot’s home is in the southern concourse of Bud Walton Arena it means the rivalry trophy has been in LSU’s possession for far too long.
It comes back home Saturday.
Arkansas, 34 – 31.
Be certain to listen to the game Saturday at 6:30 P.M. via HitThatLine.com and on the air at ESPN Arkansas 99.5 in Fayetteville, 95.3 in the River Valley, 96.3 in Hot Springs, and 104.3 in Harrison-Mountain Home.
SEC Picks for Week 11
I thought I was going to pull away from Andy Hodges on Saturday until I realized Kentucky’s offensive coordinator was handed the gift of a long 4th down conversion and had no idea what do with it afterwards. It is still too close to call, yet I hope to distance myself this week.
New Mexico State at (2) Alabama: It’s a good thing the Lobos caught Alabama on the schedule after the Tide’s victory over LSU instead of a loss. Otherwise, Nick Saban would be in a really bad mood, and we all know what that would mean. Also, do you ever wonder what a school’s scheduler thinks when they get the call asking, “Hey, this is Bama. Can you guys come to our place in a few years?” Bama by only 47.
Mississippi State at (17) Auburn: This will be a better game than some are predicting. State thinks they were robbed last week. Video replay proves them to be mistaken. Auburn is trying to show it is climbing towards the top again. Tigers by 14.
Samford at Florida: One positive for Dan Mullen this season? His pants may be able to get a sponsorship deal with Hot Pockets. I will say it now: if Florida retains Mullen after the 2021 season I will personally tell Tiny Tyson (a USSSA softball ump near the Dardanelle area) I was wrong and people who repeatedly perform extremely horrific at their jobs still deserve to be treated nicely and their services retained. Gators by 30.
(1) Georgia at Tennessee: I bet the band plays “Rocky Top” less than three times. Georgia is rolling, and nothing can stop them. Bulldogs by 31.
South Carolina at Missouri: Flip a coin? Consult a psychic? Ask your girlfriend who has the better uniforms? Your guess is as good as mine on this one. The Gamecocks might be looking at a letdown on the road following their win over Florida, but the Tigers have struggled all season. South Carolina by 7.
(11) Texas A&M at (15) Ole Miss – GAME OF THE WEEK: Do you ever wish you had something awe inspiring and sensible to say which would win over those listening to you? That’s me. Everyday. Here goes. The Aggies are riding an emotional high. Ole Miss is still trying to find its identity. Fortunately for the latter the game is in Oxford. It should be packed, but you never know, there might be a three-hour flash sale on mosquito repellant at the Piggly Wiggly Saturday thus causing an attendance decline. Regardless, this game will be intense, but I think A&M’s lucky streak has come to an end, and I am still looking for something impressive to state. Rebels by 8.
Kentucky at Vanderbilt: You let me down, Wildcats. I gave you all the hope and confidence in the world, and you simply disappointed everyone but Hodges late in the game last week. Surely your offensive coordinator learned a lesson and can do better this Saturday. Oh, and poor Vandy yet again. Kentucky by 24.
(25) Arkansas at LSU: Arkansas must establish both its offense and its defense early. MINIMIZE the penalties. THEY ARE KILLING offensive drives and extending defensive. Our early false starts are the results of the lingering Bobby Petrino karma. I love our chances though. Razorbacks by 3.
Check in during the game for all the highlights updates from Saturday’s contest.
Thanks again, Will. See you at the concession stand… I mean, the fitness gym.
It’s SEC Football. Friends do not matter.
Find me on ‘Twitter’: @PeterMorganWPS