Jim Williams: Hogs Came Alive against Texas

Jim Williams recalls the 1964 Texas game, the key game in the Arkansas drive to the 1964 National Championship. The '64 Hogs will return for a 50-year anniversary reunion next weekend for the Alabama game. This is part of a series Hawgs Illustrated is running on the 1964 season.

It’s never too late to learn about the Arkansas-Texas football rivalry. Jim Williams is as good as any to bring young Razorback fans up to speed on what it’s like to beat the Longhorns and celebrate into the night.

That’s what the entire state did in 1964 when the Hogs knocked off No. 1-ranked Texas, 14-13, in Austin to jump start their drive to the National Championship. The Longhorns had won the 1963 crown with a 28-6 victory over No. 2 Navy in the Cotton Bowl.

Williams had gone to the Cotton Bowl with his bride-to-be, Nedra White, something that would stick with him as the Hogs prepared to play Texas the following season.

“Two things about Texas in my mind, I remember they beat us in 1963 by just 17-14 in Little Rock,” Williams said. “I didn’t think there was too much difference in us being able to beat them then. And, I saw them beat Navy. I figured we could stay with them.”

But there were plenty of doubters as Arkansas headed to Austin in 1964.

“Most everyone was scared to death of Texas,” Williams said. “They had won 15 in a row. Nobody was picking us. Texas outweighed us 40 to 60 pounds, everywhere.”

And, if anyone knew that difference, it was Williams, a lanky 6-4, 210-pound junior in 1964. Standing across from him on the Texas line, guard Tommy Nobis (240) and tackle Scott Appleton (260). Appleton won the Outland Trophy in 1963, Nobis in 1965. (Arkansas’ Loyd Phillips, the other UA defensive tackle, won it in 1966.)

But the Hogs had one clear advantage. Tackles like Williams were undersized, but not playing both ways like Appleton and Nobis. Arkansas coach Frank Broyles made the change to two-platoon football when the rules changed ahead of the spring of 1964. Texas’ Darrell Royal did not.

“They doubled me and Loyd on every play,” Williams said. “I was going against Appleton and Nobis. They were very good. I was nervous about that. It was like a David versus Goliath deal for most of us. But we always played well against Texas. Loyd and I both had 19 tackles each in the ‘65 Texas game.”

There was inspiration for Williams – making just his third career start — just before the kickoff. He was handed his first telegram in the locker room, from an up-stairs neighbor in the married apartments, a psychology major.

“I didn’t even know what psychology was,” said Williams, lightning fast and a sprinter in high school. “We had this talk before about why I might be starting on a world class team at defensive tackle at only 210 pounds?

“I told him, ‘Well, as a freshman, I got hurt. As a junior, I tore up my ankle and didn’t play. But, at this point, I’d been around and learned the stunts of the defense. I had quick, strong hands, could run up and down the line and when I would run up and down the line, I could grab someone and throw them down. And, I had Razorback blood pumping through my heart.’

“So, he says, ‘You have head, hands and heart?’ and I answered that I did.”

The telegram was simple and raised his blood pressure. It read: Remember — head, hands, heart.

“I was already six feet off the ground,” Williams said. “It took me another 12 feet up.”

The experience in the tunnel was breathtaking. Williams said the stadium was almost all orange.

“We were waiting to come out and there wasn’t hardly any Razorback red,” he said. “But we knew the entire state of Arkansas was listening to the game on the radio. There was no TV of that game. Really, all of Arkansas, all of Texas listened on the radio that night.

“Something came alive over our entire team. We all played beyond our abilities. That was our night and we may not have had many in that stadium on our side, but we knew the state – just like I grew up listening on the radio – was really right there with us. All of us grew up wanting to play Texas. We had a few players from Texas and Oklahoma. But most of us were from Arkansas.”

They listened as the Hogs pulled the upset of the season, stopping a two-point play when defensive coordinator Jim Mackenzie signaled in a pass-defense call just before the snap.

“My roommate, Jim Finch, another Forrest City guy, rushed the quarterback and broke it up,” said Williams, now a successful Dallas real estate man. “Coach Mackenzie changed our call when Texas came to the line. He saw pass. Finch almost got the quarterback before he let the ball go. It stunned every person in Texas.”

And, things got wild in Arkansas. All across the state, as the final seconds ticked off, fans left their radios to run to their cars sitting in driveways. The honking of horns could be heard in every neighborhood from Crossett to Fayetteville, from Texarkana to Blytheville.

The post-game scene got crazy, too. Royal came to the UA locker room to address the victors, before he even saw his own team.

“Coach Royal basically told us we beat a great team,” Williams said. “He wanted us to win out, but said if we don’t, ‘We’ll take your place, because we will win out.’ ”

Broyles changed post-game protocol. The Hogs did not shower. He told them to quickly change from their uniforms into street clothes and load the buses.

“The crowd was still huge at the stadium,” Williams said. “We went straight to the plane and headed home.”

Well, not straight home. Broyles instructed the pilots to swing the plane back towards the UT campus, where the tower is bathed in orange lights after victories.

“Coach Broyles told us, ‘We are going to make sure there wasn’t a penalty, or something they did after we left to take away our victory,’ so if you don’t see that tower in orange, we are heading home,” Williams said. “The plane swung by the tower. No lights. We turned for home.”

The party was just getting started in Fayetteville, quickly moving to Drake Field for the arrival of the team plane.

“The first pass, the pilots pulled up,” Williams said. “The runway was covered with fans. People were running everywhere.”

The plane came around and a path had been cleared. But when the plane got to the end of the runway, there was no room to get to the terminal.

“In those days, you had to have a connection to a battery to start a plane,” Williams said. “And, when the people surrounded the plane, the engines were shut down and that was the end of that. They had no steps for us to get off the plane.”

No problem, players just walked out to the outstretched arms of fans and were carried to the terminal and to the buses.

“I think the population of Fayetteville in those days was 30,000,” Williams said. “They estimated that there were 10,000 to 12,000 on the runway.”

No one had gone to bed in town, either.

“It’s 3 in the morning,” Williams said. “We went through town and people were hanging from telephone polls to see us, Calling the Hogs. It was crazy. Just remember, there were no texting or instant messaging in those days. It was word of mouth. Then, they let school out Monday.”

Williams looks forward to a wonderful time for the 50-year reunion, set for the Alabama weekend.

“I think it’s great significance that it’s the Alabama game,” said Williams, the honorary captain for the Arkansas-Texas A&M game. “I am so excited. It’s heart breaking that some are gone. It was just crushing to be at the funeral for Ronnie Caveness and realize those that are gone. But you realize that you add 50 years to all of us, this is what you get.”

It’s been a wonderful year for Williams. He and wife Nedra celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with an around-the-world tour of over three weeks.

“You’ve got this reunion, our anniversary, then our first son was born in December of ‘64,” Williams said. “So we have his 50th birthday coming up.”

It’s been 50 years, but the thrill of beating Texas is still what most talk about from 1964.

“We were trained and trained since little boys growing up to beat Texas,” Williams said. “Our coaches had worked their entire career for us to be ready to beat Texas.”

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