MURRELL COLUMN: Finally, a place to call home

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, June 23, 2016

The post is stamped with a time of 6:33 a.m., but I am pretty sure I didn’t wake up that early.
“Shane Lowry shoots 5 under for 3rd round and leads Andrew Landry by four at 7 under. All of Groves, Texas, and @ArkRazorbacks rooting Landry.”
Before the U.S. Open began, I completely forgot Landry played for the Razorbacks. That’s required knowledge for golf writers in Arkansas.
In Groves, that’s now required knowledge for every citizen.
Landry immersed himself in the short list of locals who either led a version of the U.S. Open or won it, but the fact he grew up in Groves captured my heart more than the fact he chanted “Woo … Pig! Sooie!” in Fayetteville and nearly won a national championship. (Texas A&M is blamed for the “nearly” part.)
It was worth stepping outside my crib and looking around at the town where I now live. Many of the area’s best golfers in the past decade worked out in a little magical course there. Too bad it’s no longer to be found.
Oh, but the Pea Patch was represented in Oakmont, Pa., for four days.
You know the line: I’m not a homer. And I didn’t call the Hogs, either, while watching Landry.
A million Arkansans might have last week. The mere image of an angry red pig is enough cause for those from as far as Hamburg, which nearly borders Louisiana 300 miles south of Fayetteville, to cheer on Landry in any tournament. That’s more a result of just statewide pride than solid university marketing.
So what if “Andrew Landry finishes 8-over round, 5-over for tournament, tied for 15th”, as I wrote later than 5:52 p.m.? Landry grew up in Groves.
If you grew up or live in Groves, that’s a matter of hometown pride, if you absorb that.
I just didn’t think I’d say that one year to the day my last sports editing position was dissolved.
Maybe that’s cause for me to be a homer. Just this column, only.

The newest A&M stadium in Texas is long overdue.
Prairie View A&M has released photos of the inside of a new football stadium with an estimated price tag of $60 million. The turf is being installed, well in time for the Panthers’ season-opening Labor Day Classic against Texas Southern, which will air on ESPNU.
The stadium is a major win for greater Houston and the Southwestern Athletic Conference. For years, out-of-town reporters like me suffered through the dilapidation of the Edward Blackshear Field press box. The last time I was there, I was sitting on the ledge of the second-floor window of that box in 30-something degree weather because two people needed room to operate one camera.
It’s a wonder how Prairie View won the 2009 SWAC title with such a poor facility. But that title is a testament to players’ desires to just play Division I football, and it enhanced the donors’ desires to fund for a level playing field.
Now, the Labor Day Classic — played on Labor Day eve this year, Sept. 4 — can be a true home-and-home rivalry.

Any NBA draftee goes into the league with a bunch of questions:
How will he contribute? What does he have to work on? Who’s going to trade what for him?
The biggest question surrounding Ben Simmons is: Will his Philadelphia 76ers jerseys outsell LeBron James’ in Baton Rouge?
For that answer, we’ll wait until Christmas. We’ll know by then how dominant Simmons is and how many wins the Sixers actually have.
Aside from those No. 23 jerseys from Cleveland, the No. 23 purple LSU threads will make for serious competition.

I.C. Murrell can be reached at 721-2435 or at On Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

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About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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