Students Show Displeasure With 'Blackout'

FAYETTEVILLE -- A large group of Arkansas students, displeased with the team's 1-2 start and two narrow losses in Southeastern Conference play, staged a "blackout" for Saturday's game against the University of North Texas.

The group posted signs across campus during the week and messages were posted on the popular web site to rally support for the movement. The message was clear: wear black, and lots of it.

Arkansas' slide at the end of last season, coupled with a tumultuous offseason and the slow start to this season led to the students' frustration with the Razorbacks' coaching staff.

"We still love the Hogs, but the reason for the blackout is to just send a message to coach Houston Nutt that we've lost all faith in him," said junior Charles Starkes, who helped organize the blackout. "All year long, we've just died in the fourth quarter, and that comes down to coaching. I think this coaching staff has lost all respect of everyone and it's time for them to go."

Students and fans who participated in the blackout numbered several hundred in the crowd in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Greenland's Preston Stokes wore all black, with a "For Sale" sign on the back of his shirt.

On the sign, Stokes wrote, "For Sale: A new coach. Chokes in 4th. Runs off players and coaches. Call Frank."

"I'm a true Hog fan," Stokes said. "But I wanted the coaching staff to know that we're not happy with what they're doing with this team."

Fayetteville's Patty Ullrich had a different opinion on the blackout.

"It doesn't do anything good for this team or our players' morale," Ullrich said. "If you're a real fan, you have to be here to support them no matter what. We don't need (a blackout). It's just bad for everyone."

After the game, Arkansas receiver Robert Johnson said the fans that participated in the blackout not only disrespected Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, but the players, as well.

"I guess a lot of people want coach (Houston) Nutt gone," Arkansas receiver Robert Johnson said. "To some of us players, (Nutt) is like a father. If you take a shot at coach Nutt, it's like taking a shot at one of the players."

'Ultimate Tailgating Machine'

For years, Springdale's Ben and Sylvia Schlegel had looked for the perfect way to tailgate before Arkansas football games.

For the Schlegels, setting up a tent and making festive food just wasn't really doing the trick.

"We were just trying to find a way to spice up the tailgating experience," Sylvia said.

About two weeks before Arkansas season-opening game against Troy State, Ben went online and found something with a lot of potential -- an old Ford television news van in Las Vegas.

"I found it on for 4,000 bucks," Ben said. "So, I bought it. I flew out (to Las Vegas), and drove it back home."

The news station sold the van because it wasn't compatible with the station's transition to digital programming, Ben said.

When Ben got back to Springdale, he hired a company in Little Rock to airbrush the entire van in cardinal red with Razorbacks symbols.

But he wasn't done.

On the inside of the van, Ben installed a small refrigerator, a large sound system and a 32-inch flat screen television -- calling it the Ultimate Tailgating Machine.

"We absolutely love it," said Sylvia, who tailgates in the Broyles Center parking lot before each game. "Our food tastes better because of it, our drinks are colder and we have a great time before games. This is the kind of thing we've been wanting for a long time, and now, we've finally got it."

Anyone Need Tickets?

For the first time all season, more fans were trying to sell tickets outside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday, and they all had the same thing in common -- nobody was buying.

No matter what the price of the ticket was, even if it was a lower-level seat on the 40-yard line, fans had trouble getting rid of extra tickets.

"I've been here for a long time, and I haven't sold anything," said Luke Fenley of Greenbrier. "I'm trying to sell two tickets for only 10 bucks. That's not too bad, is it?"

At one point before Saturday's game, fans tired of trying to sell their tickets walked up to Fenley, gave him their tickets and told him to "sell them if he could."

Vince Youngblood of Dallas tried to sell his two tickets outside the east side of Razorback Stadium for half price.

"I'm not having any luck," Youngblood said. "I guess I'll just keep them as souvenirs."

When asked whether the low ticket sales were because of an inferior North Texas team or Arkansas' recent struggles, Youngblood said, "I think it's because a little of both."

Recruits At The Game

Arkansas hosted a handful of prep athletes on Saturday during the Razorbacks' game against North Texas.

Courtney Fortson, a point guard from Patterson, N.C., and Terrance Henry, a forward from Monroe, La., were the only two basketball players on official visits.

Arkansas had 11 football players from around the state on unofficial visits, including Russellville's Matt Hall (6-foot-10, 320 pounds), Fort Smith Northside's Austin Eoff (6-5, 305), Fayetteville's Colby Berna (6-4, 275), Springdale Har-Ber's Brooks Reimer (6-5, 225), Van Buren's Taylor Stockemer (6-4, 205) and Hamburg's Nick Kelly (6-5, 235).

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