Irony, kismet, perhaps even divine sense of humor; I’m not sure which. But those who know me surely will recognize one of them here: my first issue as editor of Arkansas Money & Politics includes an exclusive piece about the athletic director at the University of Arkansas talking openly – and to his counterpart in Jonesboro even – on the subject of the Hogs actually scheduling Arkansas State in football. For this old school Razorbacker, this bugle blower for the wisdom of John Barnhill, it’s frankly hard to fathom.
Younger readers probably won’t appreciate the weight of these words — Arkansas playing ASU in football — at least as they’re absorbed in the Natural State. Transport them across the bridge at Lake Village or over the state line at Texarkana however, and they might very well fade into the ether. But within these borders, they’re hefty. Razorback AD Hunter Yurachek already had lifted the long-standing policy of not playing in-state schools, but the revelation from Evin Demirel’s exclusive that he talks often with ASU’s Terry Mojahir about scheduling football? (All at once now: Coach Broyles… rolling over…yada yada.) Like it or not, that’s news.
My hope is that the game never happens, and I’ll use the same old argument because it’s a good one: The Hogs have nothing to gain and everything to lose. Not short term, perhaps. But down the line, everything. The Razorbacks earned their favored status organically, over many decades; why should relative-newbie ASU get to piggyback its way to state relevance? (Yes, piggyback. That just happened.) And while I’ve got more, I’ll save the soapbox for another vent. Just know this — read Evin’s piece and understand that leadership-wise on the Hill, it’s a new day indeed.
At the very least, Hunter owes me a Coke inside Razorback Stadium.
My (great) Aunt Jane was like a grandmother to me, and more. And she worked at Tipton & Hurst in the Heights. For decades. Jane Whitney, all 4-foot-8 of her, was a fixture at Tipton’s (as we always called it). This month’s cover girl, Stacy Hurst, reminds me of days at the Cammack bungalow of Jane and David, of driving Matchbox cars across the rugs and gorging on Sunday feasts for which I’d spent the past couple of hours nurturing an appetite as big as Allen Smith’s Second Pres sermons.
Those old appetites pale in comparison to Hurst’s new responsibilities as a cabinet secretary overseeing Arkansas parks, tourism and all things heritage. Hurst’s husband Howard, of course, is the Hurst in Tipton & Hurst, and it was at the iconic Little Rock florist where she began her rise through business, philanthropy and now, state government. Read more inside from contributor Kitty Chism about her willingness – perhaps even her need – to accept new challenges. And take a look at the makeup of Asa Hutchinson’s new cabinet. We’ll put it this way: They just added hand towels to the restrooms.
The economic impact of the recent historic flooding has yet to be fully realized. But as Tyler Hale documents, like the swell that slowly made its way down river, it’s coming. The stories of the great 1927 Mississippi River flood, which saturated southeast Arkansas, echo even today. My great aunt Dorothy (it’s a theme) graduated from Arkansas City High that year and received her diploma on the deck of a steamboat docked off what was left of the levee. The stories that come out of the 2019 flooding may not be quite so soaked in Mark Twain, but farmers across Arkansas and especially the River Valley will have their own tales to tell. Here’s hoping their stories are about overcoming.