The Razorbacks (above) are shown on AU's logo prior to pre-game warmups.
Auburn, Ala.--The No. 17 Arkansas Razorbacks arrived at Jordan-Hare Stadium for pregame warmups confident after a 34-30 SEC football win over the Ole Miss Rebels last Saturday. So confident, in fact, that they decided to participate in some extracurricular activity on the Auburn logo at midfield during the Tigers’ regular pregame prayer circle.
The Arky team gathered around the Auburn players and started walking on the logo while jawing at the Tigers. Coach Gus Malzahn and his players weren’t impressed with the Razorbacks’ actions. It was a strange move, but not one to be surprised about when you consider Bret Bielema is the man in charge at Arkansas.
The Hogs may have gone into the visitors’ locker room believing that they had displayed their ferocity and confidence. However, when the game clock struck 0:00 Auburn was the team that had reason to be confident following a dominating 56-3 victory.
“We’ve never had that happen before,” said Malzahn after his team’s victory to improve to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC.
The move by Arkansas struck a bad chord with Auburn players, who weren’t afraid to let their feelings be known about the incident after the game.
“We were motivated coming into this game,” said running back Kamryn Pettway, who rushed for a career-high 192 yards plus two TDs on 27 carries, “but them stepping on our AU (logo) felt a little disrespectful. That gave us a little boost.”
The belief that the Razorbacks were lacking respect rang throughout the post-game interviews Saturday night with both offensive guard Alex Kozan and linebacker Tre Williams echoing that sentiment.
“I will tell you this, a lot of us focused on what they did pregame, stepping on our logo like that,” Kozan said. “I think that got the whole team fired up. I have been a part of about 30 SEC games now since I redshirted and I have never seen a team do that. For us we felt disrespected and we let them know it. Hopefully, they won’t do that again. We taught them a lesson.”
Williams, Auburn’s leading tackler vs. the Razorbacks, said, “Normally we pray before every game and we pray around the AU. They were standing in the middle of our AU, that’s low-key disrespectful to stand on our logo. We just tried to let them know that they needed to get off of our logo. That is our time to give God praise and they were really messing that up so we let them know.”
Defensive tackle Taiwan Johnson for Arkansas had a different perspective of his team’s aggressive pregame approach. “Every pregame we have a little captain’s walk where we talk in the middle of the field,” he said. “I guess Auburn didn’t really like it. We were on their logo. We tried to diffuse the situation, but it just escalated. We just got out of the way.”
You can make your own conclusions about whether or not there were any attempts to “diffuse the situation” in the above video. However, middle linebacker Deshaun Davis might have summed up the Tigers’ thoughts on the exchange the most eloquently.
“We saw it as a sign of disrespect,” Davis said. “We talked about it in the locker room and that was just fuel to the fire. You don’t come in and do something like that, not at Auburn anyway. (Dropping 56) on them was awesome. You could see people walking up and down the sideline saying, “They did it to themselves, man.’”
It’s probably safe to say now that when Arkansas enters Davis Wade Stadium for its next away contest vs. the Mississippi State Bulldogs the Hogs will not “disrespect” the MSU logo nor will they mess with any pregame ritual the Bulldogs may have.
As for Auburn (5-2, 3-1 SEC), the team travels to the Magnolia State to take on the Ole Miss Rebels next weekend. Kickoff is set for 6:15 p.m. with TV coverage provided by ESPN on Saturday.