Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas Razorbacks - History

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The 19th Century

The first actual team was formed in 1894 with John C. Futrall as manager and coach. For the next 19 years Futrall served as chairman of the Athletic Committee or as manager of the team and much of the time as both. The first squad picked on Fort Smith High School twice and, as would be expected, earned easy victories. But a first-year matchup with Texas was not so easy. The Longhorns drilled Arkansas at Austin, 54-0, making the train ride home that much longer.

Gradually the schedule was expanded and the 1902 squad actually finished 6-3. Still, the only coach was a volunteer from the faculty. The first full time paid coach was Hugo Bezdek, who came aboard in 1908.

The Early Years

At that time Arkansas was called the Cardinals. The student body picked the bird as its mascot since the school colors were cardinal and white. Bezdek took the Cardinals to a 5-4 season in '08, but his team was shut out by Texas and thumped by LSU in the season finale. Undoubtedly the breakthrough season for Arkansas football was 1909. Without that campaign the school might be celebrating merely years and not success. Steve Creekmore was regarded as the top quarterback in the south and perhaps all of college football after he led Arkansas to a 7-0 campaign that included victories over LSU and Oklahoma. Arkansas scored 186 points during its seven triumphs and permitted only 18 points all year.

When the train from Baton Rouge returned to Fayetteville following the seventh victory of the campaign, Bezdek addressed the student population. He said his team had played "like a wild band of Razorback Hogs." The students loved the phrase so much they voted to change the nickname. In time for the 1910 season the "Razorbacks" were born.

Creekmore returned in '10 and led the Hogs to a 7-1 season. The Hogs outscored their foes 221-19 and closed with a smashing 51-0 triumph over LSU at Little Rock. Bezdek was 29-13-1 in five years but left following the 1912 campaign. Arkansas then went through four coaches in seven years before Francis Schmidt arrived from Nebraska in time for the 1922 season. Order was restored. The Hogs were 42-20-3 during Schmidt's seven years at the helm.

Schmidt's best year was 1927 when George Cole, Glen Rose and Schoonover, a sophomore, helped lead the Hogs to an 8-1 finish. After the '28 Razorbacks went 7-2 and Garland 'Bevo' Beavers was named most valuable player in the SWC, Schmidt left to become head coach at TCU. Fred Thomsen was the replacement and a new era was born.

The 1930s & 1940s

Thomsen was an innovator. He believed in the passing game long before it was popular in the rest of the country. Schoonover was the star of his first team and became an all-America. The early 30's were sluggish for the Razorbacks until 1933 when, out of the blue, they won what should have been their first SWC title. However, the use of an athlete who had played at Nebraska without telling Arkansas' coaching staff caused the Hogs to forfeit the title for using an ineligible player.

The arrival of Jack Robbins and Jim Benton in the mid-30's created an excitement beyond any Arkansas had experienced up to that time. Robbins could throw it and Benton could catch it. They threw and caught so proficiently that Robbins is still the sixth leading passer in school history and Benton ranks sixth on the UA career receiving list even though they completed their careers in the 1937 season. Robbins completed 53 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,582 yards and 19 touchdowns. Benton had 83 catches for 1,303 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those totals were astonishing for their time.

In '36 the Hogs finally won their first SWC title and no one could take it away from them. After a 2-3 start, the Razorbacks won their final five games, including a 6-0 victory over Texas in a rain-soaked season finale at Little Rock.

After Robbins and Benton graduated, it was nine years before the Hogs had another winning season. Not only did Arkansas win under first-year coach John Barnhill but the Razorbacks earned a spot in their first Cotton Bowl in 1946.

Barnhill had coached for General Bob Neyland at Tennessee and actually had been the Volunteers' head coach while Neyland served in World War II. Not only did Barnhill win, he united the state behind the Razorbacks. At his urging (actually threats to play big games elsewhere) a new stadium was built in Little Rock. Barnhill also was responsible for recruiting Smackover native Clyde Scott to Arkansas. Scott's incredible abilities fascinated Razorback fans. He was all-America in 1948, the same year he earned a silver medal at the Olympic games.

The 1950s

It was too much for Barnhill to rally the state, administrate the department and coach the football team, so he turned the coaching reigns over to Otis Douglas in 1950. His three-year tenure was among the most puzzling in school history.
Blessed with future NFL stars Fred Williams, Dave 'Hawg' Hanner, Pat Summerall, Lamar McHan, Floyd Sagely and Lewis Carpenter, the Razorbacks won only nine games in three years. There was one unforgettable highlight, though. Summerall's field goal just before halftime proved critical as Arkansas upset fourth ranked Texas, 16-14. It was the first time the Hogs ever had defeated the Longhorns at Fayetteville.

Bowden Wyatt replaced Douglas before the 1953 season. In his second and final year he led the tough, rawboned '25 Little Pigs' to eight victories and the host spot in the Cotton Bowl. It was regarded by many as one of the greatest coaching jobs of all time.

It was a fabulous year, and overflow crowds at Little Rock and Fayetteville responded to their team's success. Arkansas defeated Texas at Austin for the first time in 17 years and earned national respect with a stunning 6-0 upset of Ole Miss at Little Rock. Preston Carpenter scored the game's only touchdown on a 66-yard reception from Buddy Bob Benson on the famed 'Powder River Play.' The play became one of the most, if not the most, famous single play in school history. Wyatt left to become head coach at Tennessee, his alma mater, following the Cotton Bowl, and was replaced by Jack Mitchell. All three of Mitchell's teams won but never more than six times. When Mitchell left to become head coach at Kansas, Arkansas made a move that proved historic.

The Broyles Era Begins

When he was an assistant coach at Baylor, Frank Broyles became enamored with Arkansas. He could only imagine what could be done in a one-school state. He lobbied for the Razorback job when Mitchell was hired but was told by Barnhill he had to have head coaching experience first.

When the head coaching position became vacant following the 1957 season, Broyles had the experience Barnhill wanted, but barely. He had coached Missouri for one year but never hesitated when Barnhill called him. In fact, he wondered what had taken the Arkansas athletic director so long.

For 19 years Broyles patrolled the sidelines as Arkansas' head football coach. His Razorback career didn't start as if it would last, though. In 1958 the Hogs lost their first six games and Broyles and his staff wondered if the job had as much potential as they had thought. The turnaround came at Texas A&M, where Arkansas won 21-8. The Hogs won the next three, too, gaining momentum for the future.

The future came quickly. In 1959 Arkansas tied for the SWC title and finished 9-2 after ending Georgia Tech's six-game winning streak in bowls with a 14-7 triumph over the Yellow Jackets at the Gator Bowl. Halfback Jim Mooty became an all-America, and sophomore Lance Alworth emerged as perhaps the most exciting Razorback ever.

The 1960s

Alworth led the nation in punt returns in 1960 and '61 and the Razorbacks won the league title his junior year and shared it when he was a senior. Suddenly the Razorbacks were on the national map.

Billy Moore, a fabulous defensive back who also was an outstanding option quarterback, starred on both sides of the line in 1962 as the Razorbacks completed a 9-1 regular season. Ole Miss edged the Hogs in the Sugar Bowl.

Razorback fans had quickly grown accustomed to success and weren't expecting the 5-5 campaign of 1963. Neither were Broyles and his players. Little did anyone know the 27-20 victory over Texas Tech in the season finale would launch the longest winning streak in school history.

After struggling to victories over Oklahoma State and Tulsa in the first two games of the 1964 season, Arkansas was invincible the rest of the year. An 81-yard punt return for a touchdown by Ken Hatfield gave the Hogs the impetus for a 14-13 victory over defending national champion Texas at Austin. That was the fifth game of the season. Texas was the last regular season opponent to score against the Razorbacks.

After those five closing shutouts Arkansas was ranked second nationally and prepared to play Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl. The Huskers broke the Hogs' shutout string, but a fourth quarter touchdown by Bobby Burnett capped an 80-yard drive and allowed the Razorbacks to earn a 10-7 victory.
At that time the Associated Press and United Press International national championships were awarded before the bowl games. Alabama finished 10-0 and earned both titles. But Texas trimmed the Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl and Arkansas' 11-0 mark was the only perfect record in college football. The Football Writers of America had a long standing policy of waiting until after the bowl games to determine a national champ. Their award went to the Razorbacks. By today's voting standards Arkansas would have been the runaway winner in every poll.

While the '64 national title was the only one earned during the Broyles era, the Razorbacks came excruciatingly close in 1965 and 1969. The '65 Hogs had a 10-0 regular season that pushed their winning streak to 22 games. Included was an incredible victory over Texas at Fayetteville. The Razorbacks roared to a 20-0 lead, fell behind, 24-20, then scored late in the contest for a 27-24 triumph.

Again the Hogs went into the Cotton Bowl ranked number two nationally. This time, though, AP would wait until Jan. 2 to announce its national champion. The results in '64 had a direct bearing on the change in policy. Sure enough, number one lost again. Michigan State fell to UCLA at the Cotton Bowl. This time, however, the Hogs couldn't take advantage. Quarterback Jon Brittenum suffered a separated shoulder in the first half and played but was not as effective in the second half as LSU held on to stun Arkansas, 14-7.

As sophomores, Bill Montgomery and Chuck Dicus kept the glory years alive at Arkansas in 1968. The Razorbacks finished 10-1 and Dicus was the most valuable player in the Sugar Bowl as Arkansas upset undefeated SEC champion Georgia, 16-2.

The '69 Hogs were as tough on defense as they were explosive on offense and they buried their first nine opponents. The closest call was a 28-15 victory over SMU at Dallas. ABC-TV, sensing that Arkansas and Texas could be the top two teams in the country, had asked the schools to move their shootout to Dec. 6 and the Hogs and Horns agreed.
Ohio State had been ranked number one all season long and Sports Illustrated even suggested the Buckeyes might be the best team of all time. But Michigan upset Ohio State on the last weekend in November and suddenly ABC had its one-two shootout. Texas was ranked number one and Arkansas number two. Both were 9-0.

On a cloudy, cold day at Razorback Stadium, Arkansas suffered its all time heartbreak. In fact, it's a defeat that still saddens those who were alive at the time. The Hogs blunted the Texas wishbone for three quarters and had a 14-0 lead with 15 minutes to play. However, two improbable long distance plays and a two-point conversion allowed Texas to earn a 15-14 triumph. Even Longhorn coach Darrell Royal admitted the Razorbacks thoroughly outplayed his team except for the two plays. Texas won the national title that could have belonged to Arkansas.

The Early 1970s

The Razorbacks won nine games again in 1970 and eight in 1971 behind the rifle arm of Joe Ferguson but then suffered through a three-year recession. In 1975 the Hogs returned to the top.
Scott Bull became the starting quarterback in midseason and led Arkansas to one of its greatest triumphs. In another change made for television, Arkansas and second ranked Texas A&M, 10-0 at the time, met at Little Rock on Dec. 6 with a spot in the Cotton Bowl on the line. It was scoreless until nearly halftime when Teddy Barnes made an incredible catch of a Bull pass deep in the end zone for a 7-0 Hog lead. The second half was an avalanche as Arkansas earned a 31-6 victory. Momentum carried all the way to the Cotton Bowl where Arkansas thumped Georgia, 31-10.

The Holtz Years

Broyles announced his retirement as coach following the 1976 season and handpicked Lou Holtz as his successor. The next three seasons proved exhilarating.

Arkansas was picked no higher than fifth in the SWC in any of the 1977 pre-season polls, but no one had counted on the magic of Holtz. With Ron Calcagni at quarterback and Ben Cowins running for over 1,000 yards, the Razorback offense averaged 33 points a game. Tackles Dan Hampton and Jimmy Walker led a stingy defense that permitted less than nine points per contest.
The Razorbacks finished 10-1 but were second in the SWC. So, they earned a first-ever spot in the Orange Bowl opposite number two Oklahoma. Earlier in the day top ranked Texas was defeated by Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, so the entire Orange Bowl focus was on the Sooners' chance to win the national championship. Most figured it was a foregone conclusion since Holtz had suspended his top two running backs and leading receiver for disciplinary reasons. Holtz became a national hero when the suspensions didn't matter and the Razorbacks stunned the Sooners, 31-6. Sophomore Roland Sales shocked OU by gaining 205 yards, an Orange Bowl record, mostly between the tackles. It ranks among the most memorable, if not the most memorable, triumph in Razorback history.

Sports Illustrated ranked Arkansas number one before the 1978 season but the Hogs suffered two midseason defeats and finished 9-2-1. Holtz had his best recruiting year before 1979, and a brilliant cast of newcomers that included Gary Anderson and Billy Ray Smith, among others bonded with an outstanding senior class. The Razorbacks shared the SWC title, won 10 games and drew an invitation to play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

Alabama trimmed the Hogs and earned a national championship. The Razorbacks didn't recover from that defeat until 1981 when they scored their most lopsided triumph ever over Texas. The Longhorns were ranked first nationally while Arkansas was 4-1 after suffering a stunning defeat at TCU. Smith recovered a fumble on the game's first play and Anderson scored soon after that. The steamroller was started, and didn't end until Arkansas completed a 42-11 route. Razorback fans tore down the goalposts for the first time since the '51 triumph over the 'Horns.

Holtz thought his 1982 team would finally take him to the Cotton Bowl but it didn't happen. A tie with SMU on a controversial pass interference call dashed Arkansas' hopes. Anderson, Smith, Jessie Clark, Steve Korte and the rest of the seniors concluded their careers with a victory over Florida in the Bluebonnet Bowl.

The Hatfield 80s

Following the 1983 season Holtz departed and a Razorback hero from the 1960's, Ken Hatfield, returned as head coach. When his first team won four games in the fourth quarter and surprised with seven victories, interest in the program was rekindled. In '85 the Hogs went 10-2 and edged Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. In 1986 Hatfield directed the Razorbacks to their first victory over Texas at Austin in 20 years and a 14-10 triumph over Texas A& M led to an Orange Bowl invitation.

The '87 Razorbacks were SWC favorites but a last-play defeat against Texas at Little Rock led to an empty finish. The Hogs won nine games but ended the campaign with a disappointing Liberty Bowl loss to Georgia. It has been 13 years since Arkansas has been to the Cotton Bowl when Hatfield took the Razorbacks back. Utilizing the option skills of quarterback Quinn Grovey and the punishing running of James Rouse and Barry Foster and a stingy defense led by Wayne Martin and Steve Atwater, Arkansas opened 10-0 and had Miami on the ropes before suffering an 18-16 defeat at Miami in the regular season finale. Troy Aikman led UCLA past the Hogs in the Cotton Bowl.

Grovey out dueled Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware in the greatest shootout of the 1989 season, and a 45-39 victory over Houston at Little Rock not only was the most talked about game in recent years, it also catapulted the Hogs into position to return to the Cotton Bowl. A late season triumph at Texas A&M secured the host spot.

In Hatfield's final game, Arkansas set all kinds of Cotton Bowl offensive records but turned the ball over inside the Tennessee 10 yardline three times in falling to the Volunteers, 31-27.

In August of 1990 Arkansas launched a geographic revolution in college football when it left the Southwest Conference for the Southeastern Confer-ence. The Razorbacks became the first addition to the SEC since the league was founded in 1933.

The SEC Years

Oddly, the Hogs' first major victory as an SEC member came against Tennessee, the same school that defeated Arkansas in its final Cotton Bowl appearance as SWC champ. In 1992 the Razorbacks stunned the unbeaten and fourth ranked Volunteers, 25-24, at Knoxville on a Todd Wright field goal in the final seconds.

In 1992 the Razorbacks also defeated South Carolina, the league's other newcomer, and LSU. The victory over LSU was the first for Arkansas since 1929. The Hogs downed the Tigers again in 1993 and also won at Georgia and at home against South Carolina, ranked 20th at the time.

Arkansas' first significant accomplishments as an SEC member came in 1995. Madre Hill scored six touchdowns in a victory over South Carolina and the following week Barry Lunney hit J. J. Meadors with a fourth down pass with six seconds left to lift the Hogs past Alabama at Tuscaloosa. An exhilarating 30-28 triumph over Auburn at Little Rock, followed by a victory over Mississippi State, handed the Razorbacks their first ever championship in the SEC, a Western Division title.
The Hogs weren't able to upset Florida in the SEC championship game but an eight-victory season capped by a spot in the Carquest Bowl allowed Arkansas to look forward to a promising future...(ends in 1996)
 

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