Every sports fan deals with the grief of a big loss differently. But no one handles it quite like Arkansas Razorbacks' super fan Liz McDaniel.
After then-No. 8 Arkansas lost a shocker to Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 8 in overtime, 34-31, McDaniel took to YouTube with a Hog Hat and her nose taped back like a pig snout to support her downtrodden team through song. Shamelessly. And, yes, while sober.
"I am not a hick. I'm not drunk. I'm not on drugs," said McDaniel, a city clerk treasurer in Nashville, Ark., in a recent television interview with Arkansas' Fox 24.
McDaniel's Razorbacks-centric cover of "United We Stand" by The Brotherhood of Man has accumulated over 430,000 hits on YouTube so far as the video was passed around to major sports sites Deadspin, Bleacher Report and the like, as well as local news outlets in the Southeast.
Most Razorbacks fans lacked McDaniel's compassion when they watched their team — a preseason dark horse to win the BCS title — fall to a Sun Belt Conference member in just the second game of the season. McDaniel was disappointed too, but still firmly behind her Hogs.
So she sat down at her laptop late that Saturday night and just went for it.
"Making a video is not big deal, and wearing a Hog Hat is no big deal," McDaniel said by phone earlier this week when asked about what spurred her on. "And I have this thing where I'll put my nose up like [a pig] to get people to snicker."
Hence the clear tape over the nose.
She sang her song, making special mention of the Arkansas players injured in the game, such as quarterback Tyler Wilson and cornerback Tevin Mitchel. Then she "put it on [YouTube] and forgot about it."
Until 4:25 p.m. CT that Sunday.
"A friend I sent it to on Facebook sent me a text saying, 'Your song's gone viral and it's streaming on Yahoo!'" McDaniel recalled. "I didn't know what going viral meant."
At first the unexpected attention caught McDaniel off-guard. So much so that her first thought was to take the video down.
"But then I thought, 'I'm not saying anything wrong,'" McDaniel said. "And it's a form of encouragement to the players and the team. So calm down."
That calm kept her upright amidst the negative comments she got from rival and fellow Arkansas fans. McDaniel credits her husband and her son for monitoring the comments for anything particularly vicious. The rest she shrugs off.
"People have said things like, 'You're an embarrassment to this team and state,'" McDaniel recalled. "I think that they're the embarrassment if they're the type of people to say that."
Plus, for all the negative comments, McDaniel says there was more positive feedback. There was a feature story that ran in the Sept. 22 edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, interview opportunities with the local Fox and CBS affiliates and postcards from across the state imploring her to "keep making videos."
"If they keep loving them, I'll keep making them," McDaniel said.
Work and family commitments forced McDaniel to take a break after an "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" cover following a 52-0 loss one week later to No. 1 Alabama. That video currently has over 80,000 views on YouTube.
Had it not been for a copyright issue, she would have already treated us to a rendition of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog." (A video of her performing "Black Dog" with another song playing over it is up on her YouTube channel.)
McDaniel was born and raised in Arkansas and is a lifelong follower of the Hogs. She is a woman who, in every sense of the phrase, marches by a different tune.
Since January 2011, McDaniel has served as city clerk treasurer for Nashville, Ark. — a town of 4,800 nestled in the southwest corner of the state. Yes, the woman in a Hog Hat and taped-up nose is an elected public official.
All the while, McDaniel has had a penchant for singing and has done so for her church choir, at weddings and at funerals. But she's also a pop music fanatic, naming Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera among her favorites. For her passion, she turned online.
First it was MySpace Karaoke. Then she tried other similar websites in addition to setting up a YouTube account under the name "LIZHONEY2U," a nod to a nickname she encourages folks to call her by.
"For people who love to sing like myself, it's just a fun place to go to socialize and sing," McDaniel said. "You sit in the privacy of your own home and perform. And everyone is supportive because we are all there for the same reason."
Arkansas' fortunes are bleak as the team is currently 1-3 under interim head coach John L. Smith with the toughest part of the schedule to come. But perhaps Razorbacks fans should take a cue from McDaniel's nickname and console themselves for the rest of the fall with her YouTube hits.
Honey, after all, is a lot sweeter than vinegar.
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