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They call him Joe Tess. He’s one of the best play-by-play guys in college football. He’s a boxing guy, too, so I’m personally a fan.
Anyway, his name is Joe Tessitore and he’s a PBP guy for the ESPN family of networks (full disclosure: my former employer). Lately, Tessitore has made a name for himself almost infamously. It seems a disproportionate number of games he calls come down to the wire. Not even lately, really. This has been a thing for a few years. Paul Finebaum, on SEC Network, even did a little piece on it.
Well, Tessitore, who called Arkansas’ thriller with TCU in Week 2, is back in the fold this week when the Razorbacks play Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas. He joined local radio show The Forum with John Nabors to chat about the game. His statement was bold.
Joe Tessitore says the winner of Arkansas-Texas A&M is the X-factor in college football.https://t.co/MZLCOyBrld
— John Nabors (@TheForumJohn) September 21, 2016
Tessitore isn’t wrong. Especially if it’s Arkansas who wins.
Think about it. The Razorbacks beat Texas A&M this weekend, then they’re going to steamroll poor Alcorn State next weekend in Little Rock; they’ll be 5-0 heading into Week 6. Who is the Week 6 opponent? None other than Alabama, who has to visit Fayetteville.
The last time the Crimson Tide were in town, they narrowly escaped. Can you imagine what this place will be like if 5-0 Alabama visits 5-0 Arkansas? Mercy me. I’m honestly hoping we get to that point if for no other reason than I want to cover that spectacle.
As close to Nolan days as it’s been in a long time
Most times, Arkansas basketball showing up in a regular-season tournament would make the On Campus section of this piece. This isn’t most times.
Arkansas will play inaugural Phil Knight Invitational during Thanksgiving week 2017 in Portland, Oregon. Sounds ordinary. It isn’t. The other teams included: Butler, UConn, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford and Texas. Oh, and Portland and Portland State, too, which, obviously, don’t carry the same cachet, but are, you know, in the same town, so their inclusion makes sense.
College basketball elites make up nearly the entire 16-team field of the three-day tourney. Arkansas, which has made just one NCAA Tournament appearance under coach Mike Anderson, is making enough national waves to join the crew, apparently.
I went on the record earlier this calendar year saying the Razorbacks of 2016-17 are an NCAA Tournament team, a likely Sweet 16 team and about the second-best team in the SEC. Throw in the commitments Anderson has garnered from high school recruits during the last several months and suddenly things are looking pretty around Bud Walton Arena.
Hey, SEC Country, can we put this travel trip in the budget now? Just planting that seed. I mean, just watch this video and *not* get hype.
It's the best collection of college basketball teams in the history of sports. #PK80
We'll see you there in 2017 ?https://t.co/vDukQMi2c3
— Razorback Basketball (@RazorbackMBB) September 21, 2016
Finally, some noise talkin’
It’s just the animal in me, but I was hoping for more trash talk this week between Arkansas and Texas A&M. Should have figured, what with Kevin Sumlin and Bret Bielema, the two head coaches, being old buddies, it would be limited. One media outlet that covers (cheers for?) the Aggies had a pretty entertaining jab Wednesday.
— TexAgs (@TexAgs) September 21, 2016
Honestly, it’s a pretty clever series they’re running over there at TexAgs.com. Against Auburn, a guy crushed the helmet with a sledgehammer. For Prairie View A&M, folks took bites of Panthers-logo’d and Panthers-colored cupcakes. And for UCLA, this one is random, the Bruins helmet was crushed in a hydraulic press.
Anyone around these parts care to respond with a retaliation video? Pretty please.
- Local radio host Bo Mattingly writes about how the culture around Arkansas football has done a 180-degree turn in Bret Bielema’s tenure.
- Bielema is now trying to shake the late-game foibles, something he’s done better in recent years, but with A&M — and the Aggies consecutive overtime wins — next, it’s relevant as ever.
- Athletic director Jeff Long doesn’t need to recuse himself from the College Football Playoff even with ex-Hogs coach Bobby Petrino in the picture, writes Associated Press’ Kurt Voigt.
- Texas A&M will wear throwback uniforms honoring its 1956 team this weekend, as written in the Dallas Morning News.
Because, why not?
Andrew Benintendi appears to be having a good time back in Boston.
Who knew he had moves like that? Seriously, David Beall (Arkansas basketball SID and former Arkansas baseball SID), why didn’t we know this?
Tale as old as time. Baum Stadium, home of the Arkansas baseball team, was once again near the top of the list. In a poll taken over at D1Baseball.com, Baum checked in as the second best-looking stadium in all of college baseball. A worthy ranking, indeed. I’ve got it second on my favorite in the whole country, too, though, granted, I’ve only been to about 60 of the more than 300. A spring trip south of campus on Razorback Road remains worth every penny.
As mentioned yesterday, things are getting real around the Razorbacks soccer team. The team checked in at No. 15 in the country and No. 2 in the South Regional poll, plus the NCAA has them as them with the 13th-best RPI. Arkansas plays Alabama (Thursday) and SEC-winless Ole Miss (Sunday) this week. Both games are on the road.
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
Back in Bible times (and if you don’t roll with that, that’s cool, too), the book tells verses on how God asked mankind to burn things in his honor. These things were often shrubbery. Sometimes animals. They were not people’s houses.
Scott G. Willett must have missed that. He claims a higher power suggested he commit arson. On his own house. From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “God told me to.”