State of the Hogs: Shared Memories

It's about shared memories when you think back on 75 years of Razorback Stadium. There have been great times in the Ozarks with more to come.

It's interesting if you ask a former player to talk about his college memories? That's the subject as we head into the 75th year of Razorback Stadium and so much focus on the most memorable times in the home of Arkansas football.

Are they the games? The great wins? The great moments in games?

Sometimes, that's it. But more times than not, it's the players they shared those moments with during their time in the Ozarks.

I won't forget the visit I had with Lance Alworth about his time at Arkansas. He said he'd like to do it over again, this time spending more time in the dorm with his teammates. Remember, Lance came to college as a married man and lived in an apartment. He wanted to share more time with the men he fought and sweat with on the field.

As it is with the players, it is with me. The most memorable moments were always shared. They might be riding cardboard seats down the grass bank in the north end zone with my brothers as my father wrote his stories for the newspaper.

Part of the game is always getting to Fayetteville. When I think about Razorback Stadium, there are always great memories of the rides over the Pig Trail, the talking bird at Turner Bend and my mother's chicken dinners at a turnout high in the Ozarks.

My father memorized the opposing team's depth chart on the ride to Fayetteville. I was in charge of calling out numbers and checking his answers. Are there any reporters who have the lineup cards memorized BEFORE they get to the stadium? Not that I know.

Some of the great all-time Arkansas quarterbacks shared their memories of the old stadium. Some of it centered around discipline or conditioning up and down those stadium steps.

In talking to Fred Marshall, quarterback of the 1964 National Champs, it's clear that it wasn't so much the games on campus that he remembers. Amazingly, as he noted, the Razorbacks played only three times in Fayetteville in the championship year.

There was the Tulsa game early in the year, the only time the Hogs trailed by two touchdowns. Marshall watched that game, after injuring his shoulder in the opener against Oklahoma State. The Hogs, with Bill Gray under center, scored 31 straight and won 31-22.

Marshall doesn't remember winning the Crip Hall Award, the top senior in the Homecoming game. He remembers running the stairs in Razorback Stadium at 5 a.m.

"If you did something wrong, you had 5 o'clock running with Coach (Wilson) Matthews," Marshall said. "I'm not saying that's a good memory of Razorback Stadium, but that's probably the most vivid memories I have of that place."

Joe Ferguson said the same thing, "I remember running the steps with Wilson Matthews yelling at me. He said, 'You missed one. Hit them all!' Obviously, there were some great games in that stadium, but I guess just running through the 'A' and hearing the crowd each time is what I recall.

"The greatest game I played in was in Little Rock, beating Texas. But the memories in Fayetteville are all good. I loved the time with teammates in the dorm. The NCAA has messed things up by scattering the players. You got to know people living together in the dorm and now that's really gone."

Matt Jones remembers assistant coach David Lee's use of the stadium steps.

"This was after they added the bleachers in the south end zone," Jones said. "Clarke Moore and I were in trouble. He made us run every bleacher step. It wasn't fun to say the least.

"I do remember my freshman year that the Jumbotron was brand new. That was fun.

"I have a bad memory, the first play of the Alabama game when Shaud Williams went 80 on the first play. That stadium was as loud as I'd ever heard before that play and as quiet after just one play. That was tough.

"One thing I remember, my first pass in that stadium was a touchdown to Richard Smith and so was my last one, a pass to Jared Hicks. That's pretty cool."

Marshall didn't have an open and closing act like that, but he did recall the halftime talks in the "halfway house" near the southeast corner of the stadium. The team dressed in Barnhill Fieldhouse, but stayed near the field at halftime.

"I wish I could tell you of one of those halftime talks, but the one I remember the most came at halftime in Lubbock when we needed to rally to stay undefeated in our last game," Marshall said. "Jerry Lamb took over and made that talk. Those are the things I remember, my teammates."

For the oldtimers, there are some not so great memories, like the 1969 loss to Texas. They recall the clip in the open field that set free James Street on a long run. Or the interception that prevented Arkansas from putting the game away when a Bill McClard field goal would have been enough.

I won't also forget the day early in the week before the game. A secretary from the White House called on the telephone. Richard Nixon and his party needed premium seats. Would my mother give up her four 50-yard line tickets for the President. Hell, no, she said.

There are great victories, too, like in 1981 over No. 1 Texas when Billy Ray Smith and his defensive mates tormented Rick McIvor from start to finish. Fueled by turnovers, the average Arkansas starting field position that day was the UT 44. The Longhorns had an average of 88 yards of field to cover. It was 42-3 in the fourth quarter before a final of 42-11.

It was loud from start to finish that day. But as far as the noise meter, no Razorback Stadium sound surpasses the instant Anthony Lucas reached up above the two Tennessee defensive backs to grab Clint Stoerner's pass to clinch the victory over No. 3 Tennessee in 1999.

Again, it is shared moments that stand out. A couple of hours later with family, my youngest daughter Becca, a high school senior trying to decide on a college, blurted out at dinner on the Fayetteville square, "I commit! I'll be a Razorback. I want more times like that."

And that's what a Razorback moment does for the school, attracts top students outside of athletics. It's why Becca went to the Fulbright College and is still "proud to be a Razorback" with a UA degree on her desk.

That's what all of this about, producing wonderful graduates and then attracting more great candidates. The memories just fall in place naturally.

Bret Bielema's charge is to keep them rolling. Can he do that? Yes, Fred Marshall insists. The great Arkansas quarterback thinks Bielema CAN out-Alabama Alabama. More on that later. Football practice starts Monday.

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