Photo: Courtesy, dickidolgallery.com
A new era of Razorback football is set to begin in just a few days, and a new monument that nods to the history of the program will also make its debut this season.
New Razorback head coach Chad Morris is set to take the helm of the program when the Hogs open their season versus Eastern Illinois on Sept. 1, and Hog fans in attendance can also get an early look at the brand new Wild Band of Razorbacks monument currently being installed outside the stadium.
The sculpture was designed by North Carolina-born artist Dick Idol, who called it “the finest and most spectacular mascot based sculpture in North America.”
Idol would know. The artist grew up in North Carolina, and first became known as an athlete playing football and baseball at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. After college, he moved to Alaska where he operated a taxidermy business, and worked as a guide on big game hunts for clients around the world. In the 90s, be because interested in art as a painter and sculptor, and since then, his sculptures and monuments inspired by animals and nature have been commissioned and are on display at various places around the country, including at his alma mater at North Carolina State University and at the American National Fish and Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Missouri.
The name for the sculpture comes from the origins of the Razorback mascot itself. As the story goes, then Arkansas head football coach Hugo Bezdek spoke to a gathering of fans in 1909 at the Fayetteville train station after the football team returned from a win over LSU in Memphis. Coach Bezdek proclaimed that his team, then known as the Arkansas Cardinals, played “like a band of razorback hogs.” That next year, University of Arkansas students voted to formally adopt the Razorbacks as the official school mascot.
The statue is located near the northeast corner of the facility, near the opening that overlooks the field just to the east of the Broyles Center. The sculpture was announced in 2014 as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of its 1964 national championship, in tribute to the University of Arkansas’ 1964 football. The $2 million statue was paid for from a portion of a $10.65 million gift to the athletic program from former Razorback great and current Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones. Jones was an offensive lineman on the 1964 National Championship team.
The new roughly 25-foot tall, 50-foot wide monument is made of bronze, and includes six nearly seven-foot tall Razorbacks, accented by custom lighting and water features. Each of the Hogs in the statue represents “individual characteristics indicative of the University of Arkansas and the Razorback Nation.”
From a UA press release announcing the statue in 2014, here’s more on what each of the six Razorbacks included in the sculpture represents.
Passion – Passion is exhibited every day by the unbridled enthusiasm and unwavering support displayed by players, coaches, fans around the state and throughout the world.
Courage – Whether facing seemingly insurmountable odds on the field, in life, or willfully taking on challenges as individuals, teams or collectively as Arkansans, Razorbacks display an uncommon determination to proceed without fear.
Victory – Our No. 1 goal, it represents the ultimate accomplishment in all aspects of the Razorback experience. It can be achieved through wins, championships, individual and team accomplishments, graduation, personal growth and the positive impact on society.
Integrity – Above all else – it defines who we are not simply what we have accomplished. Representing more than ourselves, Razorbacks embody the fullness of character and help demonstrate the promise of humanity.
Unity – From every corner of the state, across our great nation and to the far reaches of the world, we are unified by the tie that binds from generation to generation. Seamlessly blending passionate fans of an athletic program, the students and faculty of the state’s flagship university and the citizens of our state, the Razorback serves as a point of pride for all native and new Arkansans.
Relentless – So eloquently captured by the words of our fight song, Razorbacks display a Never Yielding pursuit of excellence. That unwavering drive not only inspires our continued commitment, it embodies the very fabric of who we are.
The monument was designed by master sculptor Dick Idol. Idol says that when completed the “Wild Band of Razorbacks” monument will be “the finest mascot based sculpture in North America.”
The sculpture is already in place near the stadium, though elements of it are still under construction.
It is expected to be complete in time for the Hogs matchup with Alabama on Oct. 6. Details on an official unveiling ceremony for the monument will be released at a later date.