The Sugar Bowl marks the end of a successful season for the Razorbacks when they play Ohio Sate at the Superdome in New Orleans on Jan. 4.
It’s a big game for fans and players alike, but especially for the family of one well-known Hog, quarterback Ryan Mallett.
Ryan Mallett’s father, Jim Mallett, said the family is anticipating the game.
"Most of the Mallett gang will be there," he said. "We’ll leave on the 2nd and come back on Wednesday."
Jim Mallett said he and his wife, Debbie, are looking forward to the last game of the season.
"We don’t miss a game," he said. "There’s been a lot of good tailgating [this season]. It’s been fun. Hopefully we’ll end it on a good note with the Sugar Bowl."
Mallett said his son’s celebrity status doesn’t phase the family.
"He’s just Ryan to us," he said. "We’ve watched him grow up and play. Sometimes people amaze us ... we take it all in fun. Ryan handles it well. It’s fun, enjoyable for the whole Mallett family. It’s brought us closer."
Mallett said Ryan has always been involved in sports and has always enjoyed it.
"Ever since he could walk he’s been on a practice field," Mallett said. "He wanted to play. He grew up around it. We never pushed him. We told him to have fun and enjoy it. He’s a fast learner. He enjoys the game. He’s a student of the game."
Mallett said Ryan was a freshman when he took baseball out of the mix.
"In ninth grade, it was strictly football and basketball," Mallett said. "There was too much wear and tear on the arm for baseball. But we told him ‘Whatever you want, Ryan.’"
Mallett said it’s obvious his son made the right choice.
"Ryan works hard at the game he loves," Mallett said. "We’re proud of him."
Even through injuries, Mallett said he trusts Ryan’s decision.
"When he was injured, we were concerned, but Arkansas has great people and great trainers," Mallett said. "At the same time we know he’s well taken care of. We’re hanging in there with him. We know what comes with the territory. We don’t worry."
Mallett said Ryan is still undecided about going pro after this season, but they plan to discuss it after the season is over. Many analysts predict him to be a first-round pick is he enters the NFL Draft this year.
"We’ll sit and talk after the bowl game," Mallett said. "I’m not sure if he’ll go pro, but it’s a possibility. Petrino and the Arkansas staff provide information [for the players] and things they need.
"Either way, we’ll support him. He’s prepared. It will be exciting for him and us."
Until then, Mallett said the family will focus on the holidays and time together. The Mallett gang celebrated their big family Christmas last weekend in Searcy.
"We have a big Mallett Christmas," he said of the Searcy celebration. "[Ryan] hated that he had to miss it. But we’ll do it again when he’s home. Our daughter Lauren and her husband will come in from Dallas. At the Mallett house, it’ll be wild."
Mallett said the time at home is when Ryan gets to relax.
"When he’s here, it’s time to get away from it," Mallett said. "It’s a job. People have no idea how much time [players] put in. It’s a year-round job. They need time away. Those kids have to have that retreat.
"The pressure is higher than it used to be. The stress they’re under is hard on them. It’s tough. Time away helps."