Columns » John Brummett

These aren't French impressionists; these are Hogs

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Henceforth, if you get a hankering to try to make money by putting out merchandise adorned with the phrase "we didn't come to paint," you will need to get permission from the University of Arkansas athletic department, which probably will turn you down.

Like "woo pig, sooie" and the red Razorback logo its own self, this phrase now belongs officially and exclusively to the Hogs. It is now a licensed trademark of University of Arkansas athletics.

You can say it. You can even make your own T-shirt with the words on it. But you may not sell it. Only the Hogs may do that, and, trust me, they intend to do so this fall.

I asked Kevin Trainor, the UA's associate athletic director for sports information, what the phrase meant, exactly. He said it meant we came to win the game, not to dilly-dally with some other activity.

I said I knew that. What I wondered was whether this phrase itself, from its literal genesis, meant painting a house or painting a picture. Trainor said that would be left to the eye of the beholder.

In my eye, then, I behold a French impressionist on the 50-yard-line with an easel and a brush. And I see the Razorback football team running him over — beret going one way, easel another, canvas another, brush another, paints another and artist another — on its way to another great gridiron victory.

Woo pig, sooie, go Hogs, and get that sissy Monet and those water lilies off the field — that's sort of how I see this not coming to paint.

This apparently is the first official trademark associated with Hog athletics that has nothing to do with the iconic swine, either by image or supposed call. It has only to do with the specific sequencing of words. As a struggling phrase-maker over a few decades, I can tell you that I am impressed.

A sports columnist with the Louisville Courier-Journal seemed impressed, too, and maybe a tad surprised.

You see, this phrase came from the mouth of Bobby Petrino, our football coach and Louisville's former one. This columnist wrote that he knew Petrino for many things: wins over Kentucky, good passing games, good quarterback development and an epic Orange Bowl win. But he never knew him, the columnist wrote, for a quote worthy of trademarking.

We in Arkansas never figured the coach for this kind of thing, either, though maybe we can help with context.

Petrino didn't originate the phrase and never claimed as much. He acknowledged he was quoting one of his assistants, a longtime coaching associate, John Smith.

This was after the big LSU victory last year, highlighted by a 39-yard touchdown pass on fourth down.

Petrino was explaining his decision to go for broke in that situation. He said he called Smith over for advice and that Smith reminded him they'd always had that saying: We didn't come to paint; we came to win.

It was athletic director Jeff Long who decided the phrase offered lingering commercial and spiritual magic, considering that it defined, by heart and soul, this signature Razorback win, the one that sent the Hogs to the Sugar Bowl for their first-ever Bowl Championship Series appearance.

Actually, the quote I more readily recall about that fourth-down touchdown pass came, reportedly, from quarterback Tyler Wilson.

As the story went, Wilson stood by on the sideline and heard the play get called, then strolled over to his pal, defensive end Jake Bequette, and said, "Watch this."

I believe the Hogs ought also to trademark "watch this." They say it only costs a thousand bucks.

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