Mike Irwin, the famously grouchy Arkansas sportscaster who has been covering the Hogs since the 1970s, grew up in Lubbock, Texas.
So when he discussing his dislike for Texas football, he’s doing it from the perspective of someone who has been in the shadow of Texas sports (from the Longhorns’ viewpoint) for an entire lifetime, either around Texas Tech growing up or around Arkansas as a professional.
Either way, he’s seen something that up close rubs him the wrong way.
He’s seen a Texas football fans not only feel haughty because they own all-time series leads against Texas Tech (52-17) and Arkansas (56-22) but also failing to admit when they have been beaten fair and square.
Irwin saw that lack of acceptance over and over again through the decades during most of Arkansas’ wins over Texas football. For instance, in four of the five Arkansas wins over the Longhorns from 1972 to 1991, the margin of victory was seven points or less.
Texas football “fans pride themselves on the fact that they don’t leave when they’re getting beat,” Irwin said on Pig Trail Nation. “They stand up there and act like nothing happened, that ‘We didn’t really get beat.'”
“I always looked at that and thought, ‘You people are morons. You don’t even know how to lose and be upset.’ You just sit there and act like ‘We got cheated by the referees, or we didn’t have a good game, but we’re still good.’ So it always bothered me about them.”
He saw an exception to this rule in the Arkansas vs Texas game of 1981, which Arkansas ended up taking 42-11 in Fayetteville.
“Texas got off the bus getting their butt stomped,” Irwin said in the below ‘Ask Mike’ video.
“They were getting their butt stomped when they got back on the bus. It just was a total butt stomping. It was 15 to nothing at the end of the first quarter, 25 to three at the halftime, 39 to three at the end of the third quarter.”
It was by that point that the Texas football fans had finally run out of their excuses and exhausted all their defiant smugness.
“At the end of the third quarter, those T-sippers were going out to their cars, and they were calling cabs, and they doing whatever they had to do. And they were just out of there. You looked over into that Texas section, it was like nobody over there. It was like, ‘Well, we’re beat.'”
“They knew they weren’t going to win that game.”
Irwin then described the celebration scene in Fayetteville as greater than anything he’s seen, including the ’99 Tennessee game (which I attended) in which the goal post was torn down by students and duct taped to a building on Dickson Street.
“The celebration after that ’81 Arkansas vs Texas win was beyond that. Because I saw it. And about Collier’s Drug Store, all the way down to the railroad tracks, all the way past where we are now, all the way up past the UARK Bowl and almost to Arkansas Avenue, the street was full of fans at one in the morning.”
“They were just crazy. And I will never forget that game, ever.”
Mike Irwins Sounds Off Against Texas Football
Arkansas vs Texas football: A Breakdown
Here’s some insight into Saturday’s Arkansas vs Texas game, courtesy of Jim Harris, who like Irwin has been covering Arkansas football since the 1970s:
The Longhorns that Razorback fans and ESPN cameras will see Saturday night are far from elite, at least for now.
Texas football running back Bijan Robinson is high quality, though, both as a runner and receiver; new quarterback Hudson Card is nifty on his feet; and surely Texas will field more athletes over 22 positions than Rice could, but this should be viewed as a toss-up game – you know, the kind of game where special teams and turnovers spell the difference.
Arkansas’s special teams pretty much graded D-minus last weekend against Rice (blocked punt, another poor directional punt leading to a return, a fumbled-but-recovered kickoff, penalties, etc.), still calling into question why the Hogs are paying nearly a half-million dollars for a special teams coach, especially when Rice can easily block a punt.
Highest-paid special teams coordinators in college football
1. Jeff Banks, Texas — $1 million
2. John Papuchis, Florida State — $570,000
3. Mickey Conn, Clemson — $515,000
4. Scott Cochran, Georgia — $550,000
5. Jovan Dewitt, North Carolina — $500,000
6. Greg Knox, Florida — $497,000
7. Ross Els, Michigan State — $475,000
8. Scott Fountain, Arkansas — $450,000+
But at least the young freshman, Cam Little, was perfect on PATs and a field goal, and kickoffs went into the end zone, while several other punts weren’t disastrous.
The fact that Arkansas had to punt six times against Rice, and took the whole first half to reverse the ineptness of its offense, left Razorback fans perplexed last Saturday. The defense, though, was solid if not outstanding, and sophomore safety Jalen Catalon was exceptional.
His effort to come from the other side of the play to stop a fourth-and-1 sweeping run to the sideline inside the UA 20, when Arkansas trailed 17-14 in the third quarter, was likely the turning point of the game, but he also followed that with two interceptions and runbacks that set up fourth-quarter touchdowns as Arkansas pulled away.
Arkansas Ties to Texas Football over the Years
Here’s some excellent history from Jim Harris, as provided to Best of Arkansas Sports:
All that late ‘60s and early 1970s Texas football dominance, including six straight SWC titles, was on top of the 1963 national title, all of them won by coach Darrell Royal.
That success has proven to be a huge burden on the coaches who followed Royal on what they call “The Forty Acres.”
Arkansas native and former Hog Fred Akers, former ‘Horns player David McWilliams and non-Texan John Mackovic all got plenty of time but never managed enough up through the 1990s. Akers lost two national titles because of disastrous Cotton Bowl upsets.
Only Mack Brown was able to quell the demanding T-Sippers, and just barely, thanks to dynamic quarterback Vince Young leading the Longhorns over Southern Cal for the 2005 national title. Having Young and then Colt McCoy through 2009 kept Texas football in the national spotlight, and brought them to another shot at a national title in 2009 against Nick Saban and Alabama, but then it started going sideways.
Brown was urged out by UT boosters, and Batesville native Charlie Strong, famed for his defensive genius at other powerhouses and successful as Louisville’s head coach, was overmatched following in Brown’s shoes – Brown’s last few years of recruiting left some internal problems Charlie couldn’t fix and the record was abysmal, including the one-sided bowl loss to Arkansas, the only bowl trip in Strong’s three seasons.
Then the Texas supporters dealt out millions to the next great thing, Tom Herman, but that didn’t work out well enough either.
Texas tried at least twice to woo Nick Saban away from Alabama with all the money in the world, and when the ‘Horns faithful finally realized that was never going to happen, they took his most recent offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, to try to bring back the glory days, sacking Herman even after a bowl victory last winter.
Sark, who has been head coach at Washington State and Southern Cal before alcohol problems sidelined his head coaching career and sent him to NFL and college offensive play-calling jobs, won his Texas football last weekend over Louisiana-Lafayette, 38-18.
How to Watch Texas vs Arkansas
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11
Where: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark.
Here’s a good preview of Arkansa vs Texas from Arkansas sportscaster Josh Bertacinni:
And check out the latest from Ty Hudson here: