State of the Hogs: 22 Straight

A documentary going inside the Hogs' national championship in 1964 and the 22-game winning streak that surrounded it will be released around the start of the coming football season. It is titled "22 Straight." You don't want to miss it. publisher Clay Henry has read the script and thinks it will be special.

Someone mentioned this week plans to honor the players from the 1969 Arkansas-Texas football game sometime this fall. We are coming up on the 35-year anniversary for that game. That decision is not all bad, although I still cringe at the thought of that day in ‘69.

It's kind of like thoughts of hooking a record brown trout, but not landing the trophy. I prefer to think about the ones I put in the creel, not the ones I hook, but fail to land.

It's kind of like that for me with the ‘69 Texas game.

Yes, it was a great week in the history of college football. But, it is Texas' highlight, not ours. For the life of me, I don't understand why we celebrate THEIR victory so much.

I'd prefer we spend more time celebrating the 1964 victory over Texas which led to OUR national championship. I ache to celebrate that night in Austin.

The problem I have is that I don't remember too much of the game. I was only 10 at the time. Since it was not on television, I have only snippets of knowledge etched in my mind. I do remember that I listened on the radio with my brothers and my grandmother in our home in Meadowcliff on Westmont Circle in southwest Little Rock.

My most vivid memory of that game came when we ran outside to join our neighbors in sounding the horns in our driveway. We called the Hogs, too, but honking those horns was a bunch of fun.

I also remember that my mother returned from Austin with a clump of Bermuda grass, complete with roots, from the spot she said Arkansas stopped Texas on the two-point conversion that saved the game. We planted that clump in our front yard, although I'm sure it died since it was so late in the fall.

About the only other thing I remember is Ken Hatfield's 81-yard punt return for the first Arkansas touchdown. If I knew how the rest of the points were scored, I forgot.

This morning, I got an education on that ‘64 victory in Austin. It started when Larry Foley asked me to stop by Jim Borden's studio at Network Solutions in Fayetteville where the pair have been working for some time on the production of "22 Straight," a documentary to be released this fall. I was asked to read four snippets of copy written by Orville Henry, my late father, in the old Arkansas Gazette. What a thrill.

There's nothing better than video, but it's fun to go back and re-read his highly descriptive game stories. Their 70-minute movie will be marketed by the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network with help from the UA. It promises to be a special work with interviews from many of the principles involved in that 22-game winning streak, the longest in college football during the decade of the ‘60s.

Foley and Borden have more than just game footage and player interviews to highlight their documentary. They've come up with some interesting features and the perfect narrator, retired national sportscaster Charlie Jones.

"To be honest," Foley said, "This is for guys like me and you who were young when this 22-game streak took place. We are aware of it, but probably don't have great knowledge of the specifics.

"But it's more than that. It's a tribute to the accomplishments of these players and coaches. I think for someone like myself, who is turning 50, it's going to be great because I was too young to know all that happened in that streak. For those younger, it's going to be a wealth of information for them, too."

Foley secured permission from Sports Illustrated to use the cover of Harry Jones that ran in the 1965 season. As a special treat, he also secured a picture that was designed as the cover, but didn't run because of a fluke mistake.

"In the old days, one of the big shots photographers liked was a wide-angle image from the middle of the huddle shot from the ground up," Foley said. "SI set this up to be taken before the ‘65 Texas game with permission from Coach (Frank) Broyles."

It was to be of the UA offense. They had the starting unit on the field ready to go out for the first snap, and at the last minute, Broyles realized that he had Harry Jones in at wingback and not Jim Lindsey, the usual starter.

"Jim had been hurt, but was ready that day," Foley said. "Harry was in the huddle and Frank saw Jim on the sideline. He hollered for Jim to get in the huddle, too. He did. And they shot the picture with 12 men in the huddle."

When SI editors were preparing their cover, they knew nothing of the confusion, only that their were 12 men in the picture. They canned that cover and scrambled to find an action shot of Jones. Interestingly, it would have been Jones who should have stepped out of the huddle shot.

"There are some interesting stories from the interviews we did of the players," Foley said. "Some of them said they had never told these stories before, so we know we have special footage."

One of Foley's favorites comes from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones concerning the late Wilson Matthews, Broyles' top aide and a chief motivator.

Broyles always left the dressing room early before games to let Matthews handle the last instructions because other staffers told him "you don't want to be in there." Jerry Jones was interviewed about the last instructions Matthews delivered before the ‘64 Texas game. Straight from the movie's script, here is what Jones said Matthews told them:

" ... right before we went on the field that everybody in the state of Arkansas — every kid from 90 to four years, has a radio by his ear.

"I don't know if I can do this without tearing up.

"But everybody has a radio to their ear and they would all give anything in the world to be in your shoes, going against the number one team in the nation and go out there now and you uphold what you're about and go out there and get the job done.

" ... and I'll never forget that he gave the prayer before we played that game and (Coach Matthews) said, ‘Lord, protect these young men from injury and protect the other team. Amen. And he raised up and said, ‘Now, nail ‘em to the cross!' "

No doubt, I'll have to purchase the video. I'm not blaming anybody for what happened in ‘69, but if I'm in the mood to celebrate, I'll watch "22 Straight." I know the good guys win every time.

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