For a state as small as Arkansas, its residents have been blessed over the years with an abundance of unique movie houses and drive-ins. This pictorial-essay highlights some of the more regal theaters that graced Arkansas’ down towns and roadsides from the roaring 1920s to the New Millennium.
Gene Wojciechowski’s ode to college football is a great read. The only problem is that it’s written as a love letter; he was (mis)guided by his emotions.
And don’t get me wrong, I love college football.
But let’s be realistic about this. While Wojciechowski does point out that college football has its shortcomings, simply giving them a passing mention isn’t enough.
As the Summer of Manziel has shown, it’s astonishing how college football has weathered so many scandals without serious blemish. The players and even the sport itself seem practically untouchable.
So why would someone who claims to be a fan find so many reasons to hate a sport they care
so deeply about?
In hopes of fixing it, of course.
Wojciechowski got a lot of things right in his article. College football is an awesomely inspirational sport that’s uniquely American.
But it’s time to stop looking at it through rose-colored lenses.
Why? Here are 100 reasons.
1. I hate universities that make football a priority over education.
2. That in my home state of Arkansas, the football coach makes more than the medical school’s Chief of Surgery.
3. I hate the over-commercialization of the game.
4. Naming rights.
5. That places like TCF Bank Stadium and Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium exist.
6. Fields with corporate stains on them.
7. The sheer number of bowl games. We’re up to 35 and counting.
8. 6-6 teams qualifying for a bowl.
9. And that nearly all the bowl games have names that sound like advertising slogans.
10. I hate that winning the Heisman Trophy has become a beauty contest.
12. The stigma toward defensive players. If Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh couldn’t win one, what hope is there?
13. The fact that there are 125 schools competing in the FBS this year and no player outside of the Power Six has a chance to win the Heisman.
14. Stadium expansion while the rest of campus crumbles.
15. And the belief that having a bigger stadium equates having a better team.
16. Houston Nutt. We put up with this guy for a decade. How?
17. I hate pay-for-play proponents.
18. Writers who claim the NCAA treats [football] players like slaves.
19. Senior seasons. And the stigma that comes with it. Because in today’s game it usually means the player has no football prospects after college. Either that, or he’s a reserve.
20. The players who don’t care about the tradition or the pageantry of college football.
21. Knowing that they wouldn’t stick around campus any longer than they already have to.
22. I hate the BCS. Even now that it’s gone. I hate, hate, hate it.
23. Remember in 2003, when Oklahoma lost in the Big 12 Championship Game but still got to play in the BCS Championship Game?
25. An inept and out of touch NCAA.
26. That high-profile schools and players often escape harsh punishments.
27. Terrell Pryor, Dan Herron, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, and Solomon Thomas playing in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.
29. People who feel sorry for Joe Paterno and Penn State.
30. That for a few months, the fate of Penn State’s football program and Joe Paterno’s legacy was more talked about than Jerry Sandusky’s victims.
31. I hate that the Southwest Conference, one of college football’s premier leagues for more than 80 years, collapsed.
32. And the domino effect of conference realignment that it started.
33. West Virginia being in the Big 12.
34. Syracuse moving to the ACC.
35. Missouri joining the SEC instead of Florida State or Clemson.
36. The idea of Connecticut, South Florida, and Tulsa all being in the same conference.
37. I hate that most teams schedule an absolute dog on homecoming.
38. The fact that Florida hasn’t played an out of conference opponent on the road in nearly 25 years.
39. Indiana being a football-member of the Big 10.
40. That schools have cut down on playing in neutral site locations across their state.
41. Alabama and Auburn moving the Iron Bowl out of Legion Field.
42. Ole Miss and Mississippi State moving the Egg Bowl away from Jackson, Miss.
43. I hate the kitschy announcers.
45. Pam Ward.
46. Brent Musberger.
47. Bob Griese.
48. This guy.
49. Can’t forget Mark May and Lou Holtz, either.
50. I hate that the Oklahoma-Texas game changed its name to the “Red River Rivalry.”
51. That Arkansas and Arkansas State won’t play each other.
52. The SEC crackdown on cowbells at Mississippi State games.
53. Boise State’s “Smurf Turf.”
54. Eastern Washington’s red turf.
55. The University of Central Arkansas’ alternating purple and gray turf.
56. I hate the ridiculous number of terrible uniform combinations.
The Maryland Terrapins have got to be the worst offenders.
57. People who think Bedlam is a premiere rivalry game. C’mon, Oklahoma holds an 75-17-7 all-time advantage. The Sooners only lost one game between 1967 and 1994.
58. AP writers who give No. 1 votes to undeserving teams.
59. The terrible officials that permeate every conference.
60. The terrible officiating that seems to haunt every big Arkansas game.
61. I hate how ESPN only gives intense coverage to the established programs.
62. The completely undeserved hype a high-profile program gets if it starts the season 2-0.
(Looking at you, 2009 Miami Hurricanes.)
63. And remember when good coaches used to stay at one school for an extended amount of time?
64. I hate that fans are dissuaded from storming the field.
65. That it happens too often now.
66. And that you might get arrested if you do it.
67. Oh, and the SEC will levy a serious fine against your school as well.
68. I hate that a pizza and a coke at Razorback stadium costs more than $20.
69. That Arkansas made student tickets harder to get.
70. Let’s not forget, they also stopped guaranteeing students seats.
71. And U of A’s eagerness to build a new practice facility while the campus runs out of space for its students.
72. I hate the “facilities arms races.”
73. Which happen while a majority of college students and athletes of less popular sports wallow in debt that will haunt them the rest of their lives. (Marble floors imported from Italy, are you kidding me?)
74. The people who believe football players “go pro” in something outside the world of football.
75. The people who believe a majority of college football players are “student athletes.”
76. And people who think the football players live in a dorm and eat in a cafeteria similar to anything like that of a normal student.
77. That students are forced to move their cars from student lots before game day and have to pay out of pocket to park it somewhere else. (Often far from their dorms.)
78. That Matt Leinart got to play one more season at USC because he took Ball Room Dancing as his only class.
79. Athletes who get free (expensive) textbooks and sell them back at a profit.
80. That Arkansas’ beautiful video replay board has most of its picture obscured by AT&T ads.
81. I hate how football players are treated differently than their fellow student athletes.
82. When authorities look the other way when a member of the football team is involved in a quagmire.
83. Case in point: Michael Dyer.
84. Coaches who get a slap on the wrist.
85. Jim Tressle at Ohio State.
86. And that Tressel actually believed Pryor’s promise that he would return for his senior season.
87. The rap sheet for Urban Meyer’s players.
89. The depressing notion that steroids might have infiltrated the college game.
90. I hate that the Arkansas-Texas rivalry is dead.
91. And the Hogs will no longer play LSU at the end of the season.
92. Instead we’ll play Missouri. The Hogs have played the Tigers five times. Five. Now it replaces the LSU game. Yippee.
93. Even though I won’t miss LSU’s Les Miles mispronouncing Arkansas.
94. This pass interference call against Arkansas in the 2010 Florida game.
95. That Bobby Petrino will coach a major Division I team again.
96. The fact that the immortal Bear Bryant (an Arkansas native) potentially was taking a job in Fayetteville when World War II broke out.
98. Razorback fans who think winning a national title makes or breaks the season. (We’ve only appeared in three SEC Championship Games since leaving the SWC in 1991)
99. That tons of scholarships go to football, leaving the rest of the athletic programs to fight over the scraps.
100. And lastly, I hate that there are so many egregious problems with a sport I love so dearly.
Criticism of the militarization of local police forces is commonplace in the post-9/11 world, but the issue has been amplified by the recent events in Ferguson, Mo.
In the wake of a controversial shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer, the small town of about 20,000 has been besieged by riots, looting and instances of police brutality. While neither the protestors or police can be exonerated for their behavior over the past month, one take away
has been the perplexing amount of military equipment utilized by law enforcement.
In Arkansas, a state vastly similar to Missouri regarding culture and race relations, would an similar police response occur? In light of the equipment that the authorities have at their disposal, it’s a chilling thought.
This website, which emanates from a frightening report by the New York Times about the proliferation of military-grade equipment in several police precincts across the country, allows users to research the various hardware used by law enforcement, and is sortable by state and county. Arkansas, a state with just over 2 million people, possesses a shocking array of firearms and vehicles that seem more appropriate on the battlefield.
For example, Pulaski County, home to the state’s largest and most metropolitan city, Little Rock, owns several weapons that seem excessive for urban crime. Amid the usual provisions like firearms, utility trucks, and flash lights, police have a grenade launcher, a mine-resistant vehicle and a combat/assault/tactical vehicle. According the website, the total value of those three items — designed specifically for modern warfare — are valued at just north of $1 million.
Even the rural counties aren’t immune. Randolph County has a cargo plane. Baxter, Faulkner, and Mississippi Counties each have an “observation helicopter.” Meanwhile, Benton County, which has 160,000 fewer people than Pulaski County, has two mine-resistant vehicles.
Police simply being in possession of this equipment doesn’t mean they’ll use it. But like John Oliver noted on Last Week Tonight, the dissemination of military-grade weapons, combined with untrained police units, make for a volatile situation.
Editor’s note — This is an excerpt from a piece originally written for THV11. Parts of it have been reprinted here with the author’s permission.
Huckabee’s missing files
In January 2007, outgoing Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee made a peculiar request of his staff: destroy the office computers.
Huckabee’s staff obliged, wiping the memory of more than 100 computers before smashing their hard drives beyond repair.
The reason behind the frenzied housecleaning has never been fully explained. Huckabee briefly addressed the issue in 2007, saying the hard drives were destroyed to “protect the privacy” of his staff.
But one unearthed memo referred to potential backups of the destroyed drives. The memo also says the backups were supposed to be delivered to a Huckabee aide.
As of this writing, however, the story was last mentioned in 2011.
Clinton associate murdered execution style
A well known, quasi-political figure around Arkansas in the late 1980s and early 90s, Luther Gerald “Jerry” Parks, Jr. oversaw Bill Clinton’s security detail while Clinton was governor. Parks’ security firm was later contracted to guard Clinton’s presidential campaign headquarters in 1992.
But only nine months after Clinton won the White House, Parks was gunned down in West Little Rock. Parks was leaving El Chico when he was ambushed by two men in a white Chevrolet Caprice at the intersection of Chenal Parkway and Highway 10, where witnesses said the men shot Parks to death before speeding away. The only evidence left behind were 10 9-mm bullet casings scattered on the pavement.
Clinton’s far-right critics pounced on the murder. They said it had political overtones, pointing to the untimely suicide of Vincent Foster – a childhood friend of Clinton’s and one of his closest allies – only months earlier as evidence of a conspiracy.
Parks’ son, Gary, also tried to link Clinton to the murders. He claimed that his father had collected a file on Clinton’s salacious activities and that he was executed due to its contents. The Little Rock Police Department dismissed such claims as “unsubstantiated”.
Adding another twist in the case, Gary was recently charged with the murder of his mother’s new husband, David Millstein. Police in Baxter County think Gary had help, and they believe that the unnamed suspect might also have ties to Jerry’s murder.
Despite the passing of two decades, LRPD says its investigation into the elder Parks’ murder is ongoing.
Does a killer still roam free in Arkansas?
Damien Echols was the lead suspect in the murders of three West Memphis boys in 1993. After serving 18 years in prison, Echols, along with the two other suspects, Jessie Miskelley, Jr. and Jason Baldwin – subsequently dubbed the West Memphis Three – were released per a controversial Alford Plea in 2011.
In one of Echols’ many interviews while in prison, he issued a sobering notion to filmmakers of the West of Memphis documentary: “The person who killed those three kids is still out there walking on the street.”
Investigators never found any physical evidence linking the WM3 to the crime scene. Moreover, witnesses who originally testified against the trio later said their confessions were coerced by law enforcement
. And thanks to improving forensic science, investigators uncovered a strand of DNA from one of the shoelaces used to subdue the victims that didn’t match any of the WM3.
Further complicating the case was the mysterious “Mr. Bojangles.” On the evening of the murders, a “disoriented” African American man, covered in blood and mud, entered a Bojangles restaurant not far from where the bodies were found.
The suspect’s race was an important factor in the case, as the hair of black male was discovered in one of the sheets used to wrap the victims.
Police were summoned to the restaurant, but officers took the report via the drive-thru window and never entered the building to interview the suspect. Blood samples taken from the bathroom were later lost by WMPD investigators before the WM3 went to trial.
Other advocates of the WM3’s innocence point to one of the victim’s stepfather, Terry Hobbs, as the real killer. Hobbs had a history of child abuse and was reportedly the last person seen with three boys.
Sadly, after more than 20 years, it appears that the deaths of Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Chris Byers will forever remain unsolved.