Making His Return

Jacksonville State head coach Jack Crowe, who was Arkansas' head coach from 1990 until one game into the 1992 season, will make a return to Fayetteville this weekend to play what he says is the best offensive team in the country.

The former Arkansas head coach is bringing in his Gamecocks face the No. 10 Razorbacks and "the best offensive team in the country" - on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.

Although Jacksonville State upset Ole Miss 49-48 in double overtime two years ago, Crowe knows this game with Arkansas is his FCS program's toughest chore to date.

"We are playing the highest-ranked team that Jacksonville State has ever played in the Arkansas Razorbacks," Crowe said Tuesday during a media briefing. "They are a very gifted football team and this season we are one of seven FCS schools that will play (two) FBS schools and we have chosen both of them (Arkansas and Florida) out of the SEC – which I don't think anyone has ever done.

"We do have something in common with these two schools in that we seek total-program success," Crowe added. "Both Florida and Arkansas in the last two years have come close to winning a national championship in baseball. If they had, both of them would have been the second school to win a championship in all three sports (football, men's basketball and baseball)."

Who has done that?

"The one that already has and the first to do that was Jacksonville State," Crowe said. "In that way, we are an equal in tradition, but certainly playing at a different level. We may be an underdog, but I doubt that our band is. In some ways, we feel very equal to this environment."

Crowe made it clear that his team – which features former Georgia tailback Washaun Ealey - wanted this challenge and made the call to both former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino and current Florida head coach Will Muschamp to schedule the games.

"Washaun has played there and been in the environment when he was at Georgia and I have been to that stadium many times," Crowe said. "We will definitely be challenged, but we asked for this challenge. We called and asked to have the opportunity to perform on this stage against a quality football team. We are excited about it."

Crowe, whose team was 7-4 last season and returns just four defensive starters, thinks the Arkansas offense is the best there is nationally and directed by the nation's top quarterback in Tyler Wilson.

"I think they are the best offensive team in the country," Crowe said. "And I think the quarterback there (Wilson) is better than the guy out at Southern Cal (Matt Barkley) cause I think he is a better overall athlete."

Crowe – who had a 9-15 mark as the head coach of the Razorbacks from 1990 until one game into the 1992 season - also believes that Arkansas has changed for the better since he was unceremoniously fired after losing to The Citadel in the season opener 20 years ago.

"As long as I don't see (Arkansas assistant and former Crowe player) Tim Horton, (former Razorback quarterback and Crowe quarterback) Quinn Grovey, the only emotion I am going to feel is when they play that Arkansas fight song," Crowe said. "Cause I think that is the only thing that hasn't changed tremendously since I have been there. I don't think I am going back to the Arkansas I left and that's a compliment.

"Other than that, I am the head coach at Jacksonville State and we are going to place that will greatly challenge us," Crowe added. " I do know the words to the fight song. I promise you when they play it I will be having the words in my head. I just hope they don't play it that much."

Crowe has developed a very successful FCS program at Jacksonville State, which is located in Jacksonville, Ala.

His teams are 81-52 heading into his 13th season as head coach at the school and that includes eight straight winning records.

Crowe, a Birmingham native, has also been an assistant at Auburn, Baylor, Clemson and Wyoming.

"I've been a lot of places, different schools," Crowe said. "There's something unique about every school. And Washaun Ealey said it yesterday -- cause Washaun was at Georgia and played Arkansas – Arkansas players, they play different. That school and that program brings something out. And they get it all out of every one of those players. What I think about them is they play with great heart and they've got great talent. I don't think anybody in the Western division of the SEC has got any better chance than they've got of winning it, to be honest with you."

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