No mixed feelings about wintry mix

Published 10:33 am Friday, November 14, 2014

The term “wintry mix” sounds like one of those Les Miles tongue twisters along the same lines of that “good, stiff dew” that pestered LSU and Auburn with what looked like a common rain shower last year in Tiger Stadium.

At first glance a wintry mix might even seem as benign as a tasteful spray of Christmas petunias pictured in a Southern Living magazine spread.

Oh, but the wintry mix in play this week also mentions the words “Fayetteville” and “Arkansas” in the same breath, and you just know that makes it far more forboding.

It turns out to be some sort of official National Weather Service term, defined as “variable precipitation consisting of rain, freezing rain, sleet, or snow.”

And that is precisely the forecast for Saturday night about the time your warm-weather LSU Tigers will take the field at Arkansas.

That’s not good for LSU. That’s not good for anybody with an ounce of sanity.

Let me tell you. No place does cold and frigid and wintry quite like Fayetteville, Ark. The town never got the memo about global warming.

Those huffy Big Ten fans, the ones who scoff that coddled SEC teams play all their games in nothing but idle tropical breezes surrounded by palm trees, have never been to the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville.

Fayetteville can flat lay a wintry mix on you. When it comes to your wintry mix, I’d take Fayetteville over International Falls, Minnesota, and spot any Canadians two snow cones a side.

Neither rain, sleet nor … postmen are to Fayetteville what fighter pilots are to World Wars.

Wintry mix was the fine print the SEC didn’t read before admitting Arkansas into the league for the 1992 season.

The Tigers were likely the first civilians to feel its wrath that first season when they wandered in naively, already in the midst of their worst season in history.

It was like they were being punished for their sins, and I shall never forget the sight of the Tigers all huddled on the sidelines near a jet flame torch just begging to get out of town with a 30-6 loss.

Warmer heads prevailed and that late-November game got moved to Little Rock until two years ago. Little Rock can go low on the wind chill meter, too, but it was never anything compared to farther up in the Ozarks. There they ratchet it up a notch or two.

Those who defy weather are doomed to repeat it.

Wintry mix really does not do it justice.

When Fayetteville decides to do a wintry mix, it might better be named the Frozen Solid Arctic Polar Vortex/Bone Chilling Blast from a Siberian Ice Bucket Challenge That Will Actually Make Your Facial Muscles Hurt.

That’s my first memory of Fayetteville, at least, circa 1992.

LSU sent out a list of LSU’s coldest games over the last 40 years, and that game was at the top of the list.

It reads, according to their records, that it was 31 degrees at kickoff, and I’m here to tell you that is a bald-faced lie.

Either it got a lot colder after kickoff or it doesn’t figure in how that damp Ozark cold bored straight to the bone, almost like diabolical experiment to see just how frozen a human being can get.

The only game I could compare to it was LSU’s 2007 game at Tulane, a morning kickoff when the Superdome’s air conditioners were working really well.

Apparently 1992 was not an isolated incident.

Two years ago it was a mere 47 degrees, which would be considered Chamber of Commerce weather, except I’m guessing the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce threw in the towel years ago.

I made several trips for basketball games after 1992’s frozen adventure, and Fayetteville never seemed to have thawed out much.

When it comes to wintry mix, the place can go low.

So, of course, Miles is just as excited as he can be about LSU’s trip up there.

“If it’s eight inches of snow and blowing like hell, what a great game to play in,” he said.

He’s a Michigan Man, of course, Michigan being one of those odd places where the threat of an almost-freeze two weeks hence does not immediately shut down the entire state.

He said he drew on his experience of playing a snowy game at Minnesota to prepare the Tigers this week. What he said he did was stack dry ice around the practice field and bring in fans to blow the cold toward the workouts.

“I didn’t work,” he admitted, and I really do actually believe he was pulling our leg.

Or maybe not. What do we know about wintry mix?

“I think our guys would look forward to playing in a cold weather game and certainly need to.”

The man could sell ice cubes to Eskimos.

But, he makes some sense when he notes that, what with so many of them having aspirations to play in the NFL, the league has as many teams in Buffalo, Cleveland and Chicago as it does in Miami, Tampa and San Diego.

He said the LSU staff has studied up on getting past the cold weather, but hopefully the science has evolved from what he remembers as a kid growing up.

“Thanksgiving Day game in the neighborhood,” he recalled. “Having socks on my hands. Playing in the snow. Having a blast.”

Maybe. It could even be fun, although Miles said the elements can change a game plan.

I mean, what if a wintry mix holds back LSU’s passing attack?

Bad example, I guess.

l

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU

athletics. Email him at

shobbs@americanpress.com(Kirk Meche/Special to the American Press)

Kirk Meche