“What Does Viral Mean?” An Interview With The Lady Who Sings About Arkansas Football On YouTube
“I always knew there was a STAR inside of me just waiting to come out!!!! heehee!!”
– Liz McDaniel, better known as “Crazy Arkansas Fan,” in an email to us.
You’ve probably heard or seen Liz McDaniel by now, that hog hat-wearing, pig nose-taping Arkansas football fan who sings Razorbacks-themed songs over instrumentals on YouTube. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on something that simultaneously captures the dedication, sweetness, and sometimes weirdness of SEC football fandom; Liz’s ballads are part Dolly Parton, part Tim-and-Eric-by-accident, part “What the fuck am I watching?”
Her first video, “United We Stand,” has 434,756 YouTube views at the time of this post.
So who is this webcam songstress, this sweethearted, nose-taped crazylady? Liz McDaniel (or Liz Honey, as she’s known on the internet) is from Nashville, Arkansas, and she’s a city clerk. She also has a husband and a 29-year-old son, something we’d learn during multiple email and phone conversations with her last week. She is odd and endearing and she sings about Arkansas in trippy YouTube videos that cannot possibly be real.
We needed to know more.
Liz, as it turns out, didn’t even attend Arkansas. But since SEC football allegiances are as much based on family tradition and area of residence as they are on where you actually went to school, the fact that she never took a class at Arkansas is probably the most normal thing about her videos.
Her family hasn’t said much about her sudden rise to message board ubiquity (outside of being supportive), but outside of her home, she’s certainly been talked about. YouTube commenters have universally labeled her as batshit crazy, and the treatment from sports blogs like SportsGrid, Dr. Saturday, Kegs ‘N Eggs, EDSBS, Barstool, Deadspin, and The Big Lead hasn’t been much subtler.
She’s upbeat about all of it, as the majority of her friends and fellow Arkansas supporters see it as just that: Arkansas support. And she’s a singer anyway, at her church, at weddings, and even at funerals. (We didn’t ask what kind of singing she does at funerals.) So criticism comes with the territory, whether you’re singing on a stage or on a webcam.
Still: people on YouTube haven’t exactly hopped aboard the Liz Honey train.
“On YouTube, people actually hate me. They curse me, I’ve been called every name in the book.”
Liz was unwilling, however, to let slip the worst of the name-calling. Because I am a dick, I promised to scour the YouTube comments for them.
Before I could commence the search, however, she informed me of the private internet army upholding her good name:
“You won’t see them because I have a group of people that I have assigned to go on there and delete anything that’s inappropriate. […] If they’re from another school and they say ‘Roll Tide’ or something like that, I don’t delete that. But if it’s something that’s insulting and they use profanity I delete it off there, cause there’s nothing on those videos for anyone to be that radical about. Those people are anonymous. They like to go around to different websites and say things like that just to try to get attention. They would do it if I was blowing bubbles with kittens and babies on there.”
Some have suspected Liz’s ultimate goal was YouTube infamy – just like those anonymous internet-ers, as she claims. But that’s not how it all went down. The first video, which came after Louisiana-Monroe’s upset of Arkansas, was because Liz was “really upset” about all the injuries, particularly that of quarterback Tyler Wilson (concussion) and running back Kody Walker (broken leg). So she put it on her Facebook page and then took it down, instead deciding to use YouTube as her muse. Her previous karaoke videos on her account only had about 20 plays each, so she didn’t think this new video would explode. But it went viral, a fact which she was alerted to by a friend.
It also prompted a question: “What does viral mean?” Upon being told that she was trending on Yahoo, too, her response was, “What the crap’s that mean?”
Before we discussed her meteoric rise to fame (“It’s just no big deal.”), she scolded me for asking about her age (and weight, though that wasn’t one of my questions): “I do not discuss my weight or age with anyone. That is something that you do not ask a woman.” But Liz is quite jovial, with that southern drawl unfamiliar around these New York parts, so I didn’t really feel that bad. She even friended me on Facebook, which was nice, so I can now report that we are official internet friends.
Eventually we sidetracked into a breakdown of the upcoming game against Rutgers (we spoke on Friday), proclaiming that game would make or break the season. But her confidence, as you might imagine from her YouTube videos, was unwavering:
“They’re 3-0, but they’re from New Jersey. Those people don’t know what real football is all about.”
Which, of course, prompted our senior editor, Glenn Davis – a Rutgers alum, mind you – to text me this on Saturday: “TAKE THAT, CRAZY SINGING ARKANSAS LADY” (Rutgers defeated Arkansas 35-26).
Later in the conversation, she pontificated about the rest of the season, with equally bold aplomb.
“I think that there’s a possibility that we may not lose another game, or we may just lose one more.”
So I asked at whose hands that one loss might come, especially in light of Arkansas’ remaining schedule, which included Rutgers (looks like Arkansas can’t lose another one), Texas A&M, Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Tulsa, South Carolina, Mississippi and LSU. Still, I received some more of that swaggering bravado.
“I can’t say. We could beat LSU just about any time we want to. If we have the worst team and they’re No. 1, we could go down there and beat LSU.”
Eventually we got down to the important details, including her taped nose in the videos (Nope, not scotch tape as I presumed. “Shipping tape,” she corrected me.), and the hog hats, which is traditional Arkansas game gear. Though there is a traditional red snout that people wear, Liz finds it uncomfortable, so tape it is. Plus, “I like my pig face when I push my nose up.”
Eventually I decided to test some of Liz’s football knowledge, and put her in the shoes of the Arkansas offensive coordinator. Down four points, ball on the opponent’s two-yard line, three seconds left in the game. What play does she call?
“Go for it. The play that I would call is for Tyler [Wilson] to swing out to the opposite side and let Tyler run it in for the touchdown. I would put all the receivers in the end zone, let him back out of the pocket, act like he’s looking for someone to a throw it to, and then run it in for the score. What good would three points do?”
A quarterback draw. Ballsy, but we like it.
Then I asked Liz how she would celebrate a touchdown if she played on Arkansas’ football team. “Well that would depend on where I am.” So I said she’s at home, and she replied:
“Jump up and down and scream, run from one room to the other cause I’ve got it on every TV in the house.”
A touchdown at Razorback stadium, I meant, but the confusion my ambiguous wording caused was probably all for the better. Though that was a nice (and hardly surprising) visual. Here’s the answer I was looking for:
“Put the ball on the ground, turn, and start walking towards my players, and maybe do some of those chest bumps, and run by the fans and give them some hand slaps when I’m on my way back to the sidelines.”
And then, finally, it was rapid fire question time.
Me: Alabama or Auburn?
Me: Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan?
Liz: Ronald Reagan.
Me: Biggie or Tupac?
Me: Romney or Obama?
Me: Phelps or Lochte?
Me: PBJ with or without the crust?
Me: Joe Paterno: scapegoat or horrible old man?
Liz: The first one.
Me: Gangam Style or dougie-ing?
Liz: Gangnam Style.
Our conversation ended there after a few exchanged pleasantries, and she even sang a little Red Hot Chili Peppers for me after denying my request for her to sing. I guess it was okay since she gave me a five-second rendition of my favorite band.
And, if you’re wondering, she’s not as crazy as suspected – just Liz being Liz, it seems. Internet!