National Columnist

Arkansas fans sink to another low over a stupid hat


Arkansas fans, I could let this one go. Lots of us in the media did let this go. We're busy enough with real football stuff to write, what with college teams getting ready for the season, NFL teams getting ready, Brett Favre getting ready. Lots to do, the media is saying. No time for those idiots in Arkansas.

But for this, I'll make time.

For you idiots? I have all the time in the world.

Arkansas fans' fanatacism reaches new depths with their latest stunt. (Getty Images)  
Arkansas fans' fanatacism reaches new depths with their latest stunt. (Getty Images)  
Because you people are wrong, and you're not just wrong. You're scary. You people just got mad enough at a young woman, a local radio reporter named Renee Gork, to have her fired. Her crime? She wore a Florida Gators hat to a Bobby Petrino news conference. Petrino coaches Arkansas. One of his biggest rivals is Florida. The hat was a poor choice, I won't deny that. It was stupid, really.

But fired? You backward folks got her fired?

People don't act this way.

Let me tell you a story. It's about my best friends in the world, a couple I've known for years. They have a child, a 10-year-old, who's a wonderful kid except for the few moments when he acts out. And when he acts out, it's bad. He loses control. He's almost unstoppable when he's angry, but my friends stumbled onto a saying that stops this kid in his tracks. When he starts to rev it up and lose control, my friends tell him five words:

"People don't act this way."

And the kid stops. He's just 10, but he understands expectations. He understands peer pressure. He's a smart kid, and that sentence stops him in his tracks. It shames him into stopping.

And so now I'm saying it to you, Arkansas fans, believing with all my heart that you're as emotionally mature as a 10-year-old:

People don't act this way.

Look, this wasn't all of you. If you're one of the hundreds of thousands of Arkansas fans who didn't look up the reporter online, who didn't discover that she not only wore a Florida hat but that she attended the University of Florida, who didn't use that information to flood her radio station with e-mails and phone calls demanding that she be fired, then this column isn't directed at you. Because you already understand:

People don't act this way.

But a lot of you did. And in Dan Storrs, the general manager for KAKS, you found a patsy. You found a suit so empty that, when told to fire a young woman -- when told to wreck her career, take away her paycheck, ruin her reputation in an entire state -- he gave in and did it.

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Yo, Dan Storrs. Good employers don't act that way.

Dan Storrs is a terrible boss and a weak man, but he's not the real problem here. He's a symptom, yes. He's a hacking cough. He's a Kleenex full of snot. But he's not the actual virus.

You people, you Arkansas fans who wanted Renee Gork fired? You're the virus. And you're contagious. And that's why you must be stopped.

And we've had this conversation before, you remember? I do. It was 2007, and Houston Nutt was still your football coach, and some of you people hated him enough to seek his public records through the Freedom of Information Act. You looked up his phone calls and e-mails and whatever financial information you could get your hands on. You found out stuff, and you posted it online. One of you infiltrated his practice, pretended to be a reporter and asked an awful question.

People don't act this way, but you people did it. You crept right up to the line of acceptable fan behavior, hopped into your monster truck and drove over that line and into the realm of fanaticism. And then you spun out doughnuts in the Arkansas end zone. And I ripped you for it, because people like you must be stopped. The virus must be eradicated, or it will spread.

And in hindsight, I failed. Because you people spread like chicken pox. In 2007 it was a handful of you. This week, it was hundreds of you. Maybe thousands of you. The radio station hasn't said exactly how many e-mails and phone calls it received, demanding that Renee Gork be fired, but it must have been a deluge. I've seen your message boards, and you people were everywhere this week, ranting about Gork and spreading KAKS' e-mail address and phone number, and then celebrating your victory when this young woman was fired.

Because she wore one SEC hat to another SEC school's press conference.

You people had her fired for that.

People don't act this way. Not any people worth a damn, anyway.

Gregg Doyel is a columnist for He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.

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