100 years of Razorbacks
By April Robertson
“A Red and White Affair, Celebrating 100 Years of Razorback Pride” is this year’s Homecoming theme, part of the centennial celebration of the Razorbacks’ name.
Hugo Bezdek, the Arkansas head football coach from 1908 to 1912, is credited with changing the name from the Arkansas Cardinals to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
On Oct. 30, 1909, Bezdek arrived in Fayetteville by train after the Cardinals defeated LSU 16-0. Then, Bezdek made his famous announcement that the UA team had fought like a herd of razorbacks, which instituted the popular name. The following year, university students voted the name into use.
A re-enactment of the name-bearing took place July 21, 2009, the first full day of the yearlong celebration commemorating “100 Years of the Razorbacks.” Local actor David Wright represented a very animated Bezdek for the event. Wright wore a straw hat while reiterating Bezdek’s words and posing for pictures at the famous train spot. A marker explaining the story of the Razorback name was erected near George’s Majestic Lounge for the memorial occasion.
The previous mascot had been chosen simply because the university colors were “cardinal red” and white. The colors were one of only two choices given to students in 1894, when the college football team was formed.
The name “razorback,” in reference to wild hogs, started as a rumor that a hog’s spine was covered with bristles as sharp as a razor. Courageous, ill-tempered, sly and always looking for a fight are characteristics associated with the wild razorback hog, according to “How the Razorback Ran” by Hank Hancock.
In Hancock’s brief history of the Razorbacks, he explains that the original razorback hogs were brought to the Americas by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto as part of the livestock the soldiers used for food, but few of them still exist today.
The Razorback call “Wooo Pig Sooie!” started long before fans encouraged football players. It began with pioneer settlers domesticating the hogs but allowing them to run through the woods to find their own food. Whenever the settlers round the hogs back up, the call “Wooo Pig Sooie!” was traditionally used.
The Razorback hog graphic has evolved many times over the last 100 years, but the process jumpstarted Hancock’s career.
During his first week of class at the UA, Doy L. “Hank” Hancock complained about the Razorback emblem the university was using. The graphic made the hog seem taller because it had skinnier legs and a prominent curly tail.
Inspiration, or rather peer pressure, inspired Hancock to design a new Razorback that day.
“Some upperclassmen heard my remarks … and decided that I would draw a better one before they’d permit me to go to bed that night,” Hancock said.
Several of Hancock’s first Razorback drawings were of the hog simply standing or in a cartoon featuring a hog beating up another mascot, symbolizing the weekend’s game.
Eventually, Hancock made the first Razorback shown “running,” and it was published in the 1924 edition of the UA Razorback Yearbook. Hancock described it as the first “full speed ahead action” for the Razorback.
The origins of Razorback paraphernalia might seem simple in comparison to the Union Bookstore’s selection today.
Hancock’s first product bearing the Razorback symbol for fans was to simply draw the Razorback on yellow raincoats. Shortly after, red flannel shirts were donned with a white Razorback. From there on, it’s history!
One way for students to participate in the centennial celebration is through participation in Homecoming.
“The Homecoming Committee has been very busy planning and preparing for this year’s celebration, but we really need the enthusiasm and excitement of every residence hall, Registered Student Organization and Greek organization to make this year’s Homecoming the best ever,” said Megan Lomax, the 2009 Homecoming chair. “Student involvement is crucial to the success of any Homecoming event, and we are especially excited about the anticipation we have already felt from the student body.”