THESE PEOPLE GO . . . HOG WILD : Arkansas Football Fans Do the Craziest Things to Spur On Razorbacks

Times Staff Writer

“Whoo, pig sooie! Whoo, pig sooie! Whoo, pig sooie!” yell 60,000 people in unison at University of Arkansas football games.

They yell it three times in succession, then finish it off with, “Whoo, pig sooie Razorbacks!”

It’s a wild, crazy cry that imitates a farmer calling the hogs, which makes it one of the unique collegiate cheers in the country.

The people yelling it are fans wearing red and white plastic hog hats, with snouts in front and tails in back.


Everywhere you go in the state, from Amity and Arkadelphia to Zent, Zinc and Zion, the people of Arkansas are nuts about their Razorbacks.

Every store in the state that sells gifts and souvenirs has a wide selection of Razorback T-shirts, posters, dishes, plates, bumper stickers, buttons, pennants, hog hats, stuffed hog dolls, and numerous other trinkets.

“Son This Is Hog Country,” proclaims a red and white T-shirt showing a red hog with tusks running hell to glory across a map of Arkansas. Another T-shirt says in huge letters, “The State Bird of Arkansas” and shows a winged red razorback flying over an Arkansas map.

One poster, a takeoff on Rambo, is called Hambo and shows the Razorback standing on its hind feet holding a machine gun.

The first words Billy Boyle, 50, principal of Evening Shade High School, uttered on introduction to a reporter were, “I’d like to go on record right off the bat as being a Razorback fan first, school principal second.”

Happens all the time.

“It figures,” said Bill Rogers, 28, of the university’s sports information office. “We’re the only game in town. No professional teams to fight for attention. No other major college football team in the state. The Razorbacks are it.”


According to Rogers, however, the university makes no money on the Razorback souvenirs. “The name isn’t copyrighted by the university or registered to attain rights to it,” he said. “Razorback is not ours exclusively.”

And all over the state, even in the smallest of small towns, there are Razorback gas stations, Razorback cafes, Razorback drug stores, Razorback laundries, Razorback bottling plants.

Arkansas almost always fields a strong team. The only non-Texas school in the Southwest Conference, the Razorbacks have won the championship 11 times in the last 50 years.

Arkansas was the No. 1 team in the nation in 1964 under Coach Frank Broyles, now the athletic director. Broyles, given credit for putting the Razorbacks on the map, coached the team for 19 years, from 1958 through 1976. The school’s new ultramodern athletic complex carries his name.

Broyles also is color commentator for ABC’s college football telecasts, working with Keith Jackson.

Ken Hatfield, 40, a football hero in his school days at the university--he led the country in punt returns one year--is in his second year as Razorback coach. He was a successful coach at Air Force before coming here.


Going into Saturday’s game with archrival Texas in Razorback Stadium here, the Razorbacks are unbeaten in five games, two in the conference, and are ranked fourth nationally by the Associated Press, fifth by United Press International.

Next week, the Razorbacks have another home game, against Houston, but that will be played in lighted War Memorial Stadium at Little Rock, Arkansas’ other home field.

Razorback home games, at either site, are always sold out well in advance, a reflection of the state-wide popularity of the football team.

“Fayetteville is stuck up in the northwest corner of the state,” Rogers said. “It’s a long eight-hour drive for fans living in the southeast corner of Arkansas. Playing four home games in Little Rock and three home games on campus in Fayetteville makes it easier for rooters from all over Arkansas to attend.”

It’s a three-hour drive from Fayetteville to Little Rock on narrow mountain roads. Can there be any other school in America where fans drive for three hours to attend a home game?

The team was originally called the Cardinals. Then, in 1909, Coach Hugo Bezdek stood up at a pep rally and called his team “A wild band of razorbacks.”


The student body liked that and subsequently voted to change the name of the team from Cardinals to Razorbacks.

Razorback hogs run wild in the Arkansas hills and every year farmers catch one of the dirty, rusty colored pigs and hogtie it for use as the university’s mascot. The wild pig is rolled onto the football field in a cage for each game.

Greg Thomas, 19, a sophomore who leads his team in rushing this year, is the Razorbacks’ first black quarterback.

And, the cry that rocks the stadiums in Little Rock and Fayetteville this year is: “Whoo, pig sooie! Whoo, pig sooie! Whoo, pig sooie! Whoo, pig sooie Razorbacks!

“Go get ‘em Greg!”