I’ll let the experts dissect the Razorbacks’ tough 21-14 loss to Missouri yesterday and the raging question about quarterback Brandon Allen’s injuries.
Instead, the questions I kept hearing on Twittter and e-mail:
What is the Battle Line Rivalry?
What does it mean? Who dreamed it up?
Logical thinkers say you don’t declare a rivalry. It develops over time. A season-ending game between states that share a border might come to constitute such a game over time. But to declare it so — primarily to get a marketing tool to sell to an insurance company — seems a touch premature.
But what about that Battle Line? Here’s the UA news release announcing the new “rivalry.” It provides this explanation.
The rivalry clashes against both geographic and historical boundaries – from disputed demarcations of the border separating the two states to notable alumni and former personnel with ties to both storied athletic programs. The historic rivalry between the two states will take on even more meaning now, as every Thanksgiving weekend the Battle Line will be drawn on the gridiron. The Razorbacks or Tigers will ultimately stake claim to the “Line” – until the next meeting..
I’ve asked the UA Athletic Department for any internal documents that outline the development of this marketing angle.
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas identifies the primary border dispute between Missouri and Arkansas as the confusion over the “bootheel,” that nubbin of Missouri that extends along the Mississippi River down below the otherwise straight east-west line that divides the two states. Nobody ever battled over it. Arkansas probably should be grateful for the loss, given the Bootheel’s reputation for lawlessness over the years.
Maybe we should have a Bootheel trophy to go with The Boot, which was invented for the LSU-Arkansas game (a rivalry with historic football roots, unlike the Missouri game.) An appropriate trophy would be a stolen car. Time was, federal court cases turned now and then to stolen vehicles taken across the line to Bootheel chop shops.
A friend suggests something derived from the shared Ozarks. Battle of the Ozarks? No, he didn’t suggest the trophy should be a cedar outhouse replica. But a genuine Ozark Mountain Do-Nothing would be perfect.
Missouri’s biggest problem, seems to me, is its long identification as more of a Midwestern than Southern state. But its politics are rapidly catching up with those of the SEC.