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OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: Bubba on the ball

by John Brummett | February 11, 2021 at 2:54 a.m.

Bubba McCoy matriculated at the hearts and dominoes table in the student union at Fayetteville in 1969 and 1970 before flunking out and having to get married.

How and why such an exemplary young woman would fall for Bubba is one of life's great mysteries. It's a universal mystery, really, singularly responsible for the survival of the human male species, thus humankind.

That fine young woman told friends that Bubba was sweet underneath and not as dumb as he acted. She was right, or so one other person, a newspaperman from Little Rock, came in time to think.

Bubba and his new bride came home to east Arkansas and Bubba went to work on his new father-in-law's farm, which in a decade got lost to inflation and drought, or, as Bubba says, "Jimmy Carter."

Bubba got out with enough money to start a little car lot, because cars and people were all he knew outside of hearts and dominoes, and the rest is history.

But it happens, you'll note, that Bubba was at the university in the football heyday. He was in the stands on Dec. 6, 1969, the drizzly day that will live in Arkansas infamy.

He once said, "Hey, Chuck" to Dicus, and, another time, "Yo, Bill" to Montgomery. Neither paid him much mind.

The point is that I thought I'd call over to see what Bubba, as a proud UA attendee and lifelong east Arkansas booster and businessman, thought of the decision by the Hogs to consent to play Arkansas State in football in 2025 at War Memorial Stadium.

"You want to know what the hell of it is?" Bubba asked.


"I don't care. I had about near forgot it until you reminded me."

What did Bubba think that meant?

"It means things ain't near like they used to be. I think my attitude about Razorback football changed forever that time a few years ago when we lost by 40 points or so to North Texas State -- North Texas State -- during which our guys forgot that you were supposed to tackle a punt returner.

"I mean, seriously. In my day, the Hogs played Texas for the national championship, and should have won it. They got in there and snorted with Steve Worster and slowed him and that wishbone down like nobody else had or would. Now they're gearing up to play Jonesboro for the state championship, and, hell, that outcome is probably in question. At this rate, they'll wind up playing the Henderson-Ouachita winner for the first-place trophy of Arkadelphia.

"It's just like politics," Bubba continued, and I, knowing better, asked what he meant.

"Arkansas used to have a football team that played for national championships, and Arkansas used to have Democrats who could get elected. Let me tell you something: David Pryor or Mike Beebe or Bill Clinton could come over here running for office right now and people around here would tell him, 'I like you fine. Always have. But you've got that 'D' by your name. I don't know why you'd associate yourself with baby-killing, men in girls' bathrooms, police-defunding, socialism and taking away pipeline jobs and making us give up our pickups for plug-in subcompacts.'"

I asked Bubba if that's how he felt personally.

"I'm different only to this extent: I know a good man who ran for the Legislature as a Democrat. He would sit in the Baptist church as he always had beside his best friends who would tell him they loved him. But then they'd tell him very politely that, oh, by the way, they couldn't vote for him as long as he was running with that 'D,' but that they would pray for him that he would be forgiven. I, on the other hand, voted for him. Me and about a half-dozen other heathens."

One of whom, I said, surely was the good woman to whom Bubba was married -- a liberal, it seemed to me.

"Oh, Lord, don't say that out loud around here. They'd make her give up her Sunday School class for sure. Those kids love her and she loves them."

Our discussion having deteriorated into Arkansas politics, I asked Bubba about the coming race for governor.

"That thing's over. Next subject."

How's it over?

"Huckabee's daughter went to Washington and stood up for Trump by smarting off to Jim Acosta," Bubba said.

"Man, that's pure political gold around here. I've got this idea for a sales campaign as we get closer to 2022. I'm gonna say, 'Get your new used car now. You're gonna need a good dependable ride to get to that Trump rally for Sarah Sanders over in Little Rock.'"

Bubba didn't need a B.A. or a B.S.E. from Fayetteville for that kind of smarts.


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected] Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.


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