Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Mascot family focus of SEC Network promo
Arkansas cheerleader Carolyn Yates kisses Tusk, the University of Arkansas mascot before the NCAA college football game with Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock, Ark., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/David Quinn)
FAYETTEVILLE Long-time Arkansas Razorbacks fan Keith Stokes will serve as the voice and a key character on a new 30-second spot being released today to help promote the University of Arkansas and the upcoming SEC Network.
Stokes is familiar to Arkansas fans as the owner of Tusk IV, the live Razorback mascot, and as the man who drives the hog in its trailer to Arkansas’ home football games.
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“I love being part of the Razorbacks,” Stokes said. “I’ve been a fan my whole life and I’ve been involved with Tusk since the beginning. This is kind of a way to put everything together in one big package.”
The spot, which includes a good close-up of Tusk IV, was shot on a Saturday last fall by an ESPN crew before and during a Razorbacks’ home football game. Stokes said the crew came to his spread on “a farm near Dardanelle in Yell County,” which is the character Mattie Ross’ description of where she’s from in the book True Grit, around 5 a.m. on game day to begin shooting footage for the commercial.
In the spot, Stokes describes the importance of the hog call to Arkansas fans everywhere as groups of fans and the team’s cheerleaders are seen taking part in the cheer.
Stokes is talking while he and his 20-year-old daughter, Abbey, begin the hand motions and the start of the “Woo Pig Sooie” call. As the Stokes’ raise their arms, several other scenes of individuals and groups of Arkansas fans are intercut, leading to a crescendo and the “Pig Sooie, Razorbacks!” part of the call during the game.
The spot ends with the line “Take It All In,” followed by the new SEC Network logo.
ESPN has created 30-second spots for each of the 14 SEC schools, many of them based on traditions at those schools. Alabama’s spot features the voice of Paul “Bear” Bryant, a native of Moro Bottom, talking about what it takes to win.
Stokes said he brought Tusk to his farm in about 2006 and has been involved with each of the mascots since former Razorback David Bazzel came up with the idea to have a live mascots in the mid-1990s.
“Tusk is his baby,” Stokes said. “He deserves a lot of credit in this.”