If you’re a Red Wolf fan, it’s no secret legitimized, mutual rivalries are few and far to find. Yeah, yeah Astate fans hate Louisiana Tech and Memphis, but the mutual disdain is not shared (at least the Tigers are willing to play sporadic, home and home series with the Red Wolves). Certainly both fanbases of ASU and Louisiana (..at Lafayette) will for the most agree they are rivals but other than the hardcore few, there virtually isn’t any kind of fanfare to speak of and perhaps more importantly, any hardware to showcase the long standing history shared between the two respective universities.
Well fear not Arkansas State fans! After mulling it over and conceptualizing various ideas along with a variety of possible teams, I….the Ramblin’ Arkansan have come up with three potential rivalry games (along with trophy ideas) that is highly probable to not only excite the fans but add to the game day mystique for Red Wolf nation and the opposing team’s as well!
Rivalry Trophy Game #1: ‘The Southland Classic’ or ‘The ArkLa Classic’
Behind Memphis, the second most played opponent in school history for Arkansas State are the Cajuns. Starting from 1953 and fast forward six decades later, the Red Wolves and Louisiana (…at Lafayette) have battled 49 times in three difference conferences. This is alone is such a tremendous, deep history…hence, both schools would battle for a replica of the 1970s Southland Conference Football Championship trophy(see above for a visual idea…duh). Not only would this pay homage to the glory SLC days, but with the way the trophy is designed, both universities could also celebrate a variety players or other personnel with strong ties to their respective program with the four football player figurines on the trophy itself. Furthermore, if a corporate sponsor were wanted what better one to have than the “ARKLA” Natural Gas company as they have a strong presence in both states. Obviously, this would be a traveling trophy being awarded to the winner of the gridirion match-up every season (old school rules for an awesome old school trophy right?).
Rivalry Trophy Idea #2: ‘Skirmish between the STATES’
Truth be told, the name is still a work in progress however you get the gist of what I’m trying to convey here. If there’s one team in the league that’s in desperate need of a rivalry game, it’s Texas State. Many Bobcat fans have made their frustrations known and I feel for them! So, how about the dogs and cats unite and establish the newest conference rivalry trophy series. Immediately, I can hear the nay-sayers through the computer monitors—“CREATED RIVALRIES ARE STUPID! RIVALRIES SHOULD BE NATURAL FORMING AND ORGANIC!” “YOU DRAW WORSE THAN A SEAHORSE WITH LEPROSY!”
While the leprosy line hurts slightly, here’s my rebuttal: you know how all the great rivalries started? Simple. They played a game. And they continued to play until someone or multiple people got the great idea of creating something for them to play for. How’s that any different than what we’re trying to accomplish here? Not only that, if we REALLY wanted to spice this up we could borrow the point system our Georgia Brothers use for their rivalry series and really make this contest an all around affair, not just football. (For those unaware of what I’m talking about heres a page from Georgia State’s athletic site with additional information on the “Modern Day Hate” Rivalry series and more specifically, how they calculate the points).
To sum it up, they accumulate agreed upon points in all the sports both schools compete against one another in, and add it up with additional points for which ends up with the better cumulative GPA and who finished higher in the Sun Belt Conference’s Community Service Award rankings. Now since we don’t want to be straight up copy cats, I figure we could tweak a few things; most notably instead of starting off with Volleyball and the previous years winner is given the trophy at the football game, you can have Texas State and Arkansas State basketball games kick off the yearly series and it conclude with that season’s football game (in order for this to work they’d have to play early in the basketball season and preferably be the last game of the season in Football).
Also another change could be the points awarded; for example, the winner of Georgia State-Southern receives two points. Since football is pretty much “THE SPORT” in terms of popularity with the fans you could make this game really matter and say the winner recieves three, four or hell even five points maybe? Like look how ZANY this past season could’ve been…
- Let’s assume we use the Georgia Schools point systems for the variety of athletic events and applied them to the sports in which ASU and TSU both competed in (we won’t count the GPA or Community Service yet).
- Going into the football game last December 3rd, the Red Wolves would’ve led 7.5 points to 3.5 points.
- Let’s also assume the football game was allocated five points, Texas State would’ve pulled off not only the literal upset but snuck out the Skirmish Trophy Series away from the Red Wolves!
- How about this scenario? If it was worth four points and Texas State tied it up 7.5 a piece, you THEN could use both GPA and/or Community Service rankings from the league to determine a tie breaker! WHAT DRAMA!!!!
And even if both schools don’t want to do the point rivalry system, my trophy design alone is freakin sweet. Moving on….
Rivalry Trophy Game #3: Rekindle the Paint Bucket Trophy Game
Seriously Memphis fans…this game is awesome and you know it.
I know you long have held a superiority complex over Arkansas State, but you can’t deny the longevity and history both Universities share (not to mention we’re literally 76 miles separated from one another!). I could go on and on of some the memorable games played between one another, or the fact both are among the most frequently played opponents for either school. I think the disconnect stems from two factors: 1) Astate really dropped off the map in terms of competitiveness after the late 80s (and it took nearly 30 years for ASU to bounce back from) which in turn really made Memphis fans lose interest in the once cutthroat rivalry. And 2) the mystique that was “The Paint Bucket Rivalry” was lost along the way. Per the Astateredwolves website…
“Officials of the two schools had decided to make the trophy for the winner of this game some buckets of paint and some paint brushes. The losing school also designed a particular area on its campus that the winner could smear with paint. The idea was to eliminate the defacing of each campus and the “kidnapping” of opposing football players during game week. It evolved into the winning school being given a trophy from the other—a paint bucket decorated in the colors of the two schools and inscribed with the score. Memphis State won both of the ‘Paint Bucket Bowl’ trophies before the series was temporarily discontinued after the 1957 game.”
To this day, I still have been unable to find any kind of picture of this “trophy.” Furthermore, it certainly seems this was more of an Astate tradition than Memphis but it could be if Tiger nation not only help breath new life into it, but teamed up with ASU officials for either a new trophy or taking an old concept and spinning it with a fresh idea. One example I really like comes from the Tar Heel state, where the winners of the ‘Victory Bell’ between North Carolina and Duke spray paint the bell trophy with their school colors. Perhaps Astate and Memphis can battle for a trophy of some kind, and then at the end of the game the winners are given paint with brushes and they go to town on the agreed upon trophy, splattering it with the winners colors.
Astate, Louisiana (…at Lafayette) Texas State and Memphis officials…at the end of the day it’s all about the fan experience. In this day and age of battling living rooms with fancy TVs and rising costs, you need to create experiences in order to keep the fans coming back as well as create new ones for the years to come. Although comfortable stadium seating as well as premium lodges certainly are eye candy from afar, rivalry games really are the very heart and essence that is college football. Give the fans a reason to come to the games and start creating some buzz by creating some hardware and some gridiron drama for all of us to celebrate and sulk in with our fellow teams (mostly Astate).