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It's Football Time Somewhere

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Not even the sports page of the hometown Russellville Courier mentions this, but a week before the start of the I-A season, the beloved Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys kick off the season tonight at national power Northwest Missouri State. Another big season is expected for the host Bearcats, who were undefeated until last year’s Division II championship loss to Grand Valley State and "will showcase many improvements in their home stadium" tonight, most notably permanent lighting for NMSU’s first regular season night game in since 1977.

Bearcat Stadium/Herschel Neil Track/Mel Tjeerdsma Field, "crown jewel" of the Missouri and ground zero of college football 2007.
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The Wonder Boys are opening up at "the earliest possible date" in preparation for Gulf South Conference dates later in the year with Delta State, Valdosta State and North Alabama, all winners of national D-II titles in the last ten years, and Northwest Missouri is the requisite beast: NMSU returns a 1,500-yard rusher, 3,300-yard passer and 1,100-yard receiver, and sits at No. 2 in the preseason polls. Only second? That sort of returning firepower makes you No. 1 in the Bowl Subdivision. Damn politics.

At least in the Bearcats’ case, poll snubs will have no effect on their national championship aspirations, as long as they take care of business in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. Read about the very D-II core values of Northwest Missouri State athletics.

Arkansas Tech’s "Wonder Boys" moniker stems from an Arkansas Gazette article on the team’s 1919 upset of Arkansas State. Now, ironically, just as ASU is determined to drop the name "Indians," Tech is apparently forming a committee to decide on a gender-neutral mascot to replace "Wonder Boys" and their female counterparts, the anachronistically-named "Golden Suns" (which replaced "Wonderettes" in 1975, beating out, among others, "Sugar Bears"). Ostensibly, this is about creating a single icon around which to build an environment of campus pride, which sounds like code for "marketing the shit out of a new logo." Click here to sign the petition to "Save the Wonder Boys," and the great tradition that inspired nine decades of amazing feats on the athletic field, but alternately groundbreaking and sublimely silly rock ‘n roll, as well:

Do your part to let Arkansas Tech Athletics know the Wonder Boys will not go quietly into that good, officially-licensed night.