College football programs jabbing each other after big wins is an unavoidable part of the modern sports landscape. Usually, these kinds of “roasts” are done in good humor, as the Razorbacks did after their Outback Bowl win over Penn State last season when they made fun of a previous Penn State Super Bowl brag that carried with it some ridiculous fine print.
Same goes for a Tweet a few months before that after Arkansas’ big early-season win against Texas in 2021:
Naturally, Arkansas has been on the receiving end of these kinds of troll jobs as well. Ole Miss is among the best in the SEC when it comes to good-humored trash talking and after the Rebels’ 52-51 win last year, their social media team went through the trouble of creating creating a website, DidArkansasLose.com, that last fall opened to a video of Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman letting loose with his signature catchphrase “Yessirrr!”
Open the link nowadays, and you’ll see Ole Miss is trying to get a two-for-one off this same domain. It now opens to the words “Coming Soon” in advance of the Nov. 19 Arkansas vs Ole Miss showdown:
That, friends, is how it should be. Be clever, have a little fun at the other team’s expense, but keep it all in the bounds of good sportsmanship.
The Alabama football program, however, apparently didn’t get the memo in the wake of the Crimson Tide’s 49-26 win at Arkansas.
Alabama Football Goes Low
A couple days after that win, the Crimson Tide social media team posted a graphic that starts off cheekily enough, referencing the 16 straight losses that the Hogs have endured at the hands of Alabama with the phrase “When Pigs Fly.”
The problem, though, is they didn’t stop there:
At the bottom of the image, laying on the ground, is none other than Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson, who is doubtful to play on Saturday at Mississippi State. The photo montage also makes it look like the Crimson Tide players are trampling over him.
This is classless on a few fronts. No program should use images of other teams’ injured players as props in their own marketing materials. The fact that this is the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide, who have built a reputation over so many years based on Nick Saban’s adherence to a process that involves respecting opponents, makes the decision to post this even more puzzling.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach Saban and Alabama, but I got to believe that even Coach Saban would not be cool with this,” longtime Arkansas sportswriter Dudley Dawson wrote. “Win – as you do better than anyone else – with class. Unnecessary roughness. Better than that.”
“Trashy as hell that the actual football page posted a winning score with an injured athlete on the ground in it,” fan Justin Mathis added. “That’s pathetic. Like rivalries and football aside this is embarrassing. That’s an injured person.”
The Tweet, which for some reason remains up after two days, is also tone deaf. Alabama’s superstar quarterback Bryce Young also got injured in the game. Although he’s now back in practice, his injury – like KJ Jefferson’s – would be the kind of that could significantly change the fortunes of his team’s season. How would Alabama football fans feel if Arkansas’ athletic department used images of an injured Bryce Young as part of its efforts at “branding”?
Likely, Razorback fans themselves would find this revolting.
Tua Tagovailoa Awareness
Finally, the Crimson Tide athletic department showed an alarming lack of sensitivity toward one of its best former players by so callously depicting a quarterback who might have suffered a concussion. Former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, now in the NFL, recently appeared to suffer brutal head injuries in back to back games to the point where one famous neurologist has urged him to retire from the game altogether.
Regardless, it’s one of the most serious concussion-related episodes we have seen involving a high-profile NFL player in recent times and hits home on the potential severity of these injuries.
Some Alabama football fans bring up the fact that a few Arkansas supporters – namely those behind Barstool Hogs – gloried in Bryce Young’s injury. Every team, however, is going to have rogue fans who relish big injuries on the other side. But the Hogs’ Barstool affiliate doesn’t represent the University of Arkansas in any official capacity whatsoever.
Meanwhile the Alabama football social media team is one of the official mouthpieces of the Crimson Tide’s athletic department. If they take their job as seriously as they should, they should realize there is no excuse for this kind of borderline barbarism. Take down the Tweet, or modify it, or keep dragging the Crimson Tide name to the kind of depths Saban has worked for so long and hard to avoid.