Nutt's Hogs Are Must See on TV

Of course, newspaper coverage is more important (wink, wink), but there's no better exposure for a college football team than on TV screens across the country.

Televised appearances really give recruits, especially out of state ones, their first, and most lasting, impressions of the direction a program is heading in.

Since Houston Nutt took over seven years ago, Arkansas football is must-see TV.

Arkansas has appeared in 186 televised games since 1948, and the Hogs have lost 99 of those.

Before Nutt's arrival (and Arkansas' revival), the Hogs appeared in only a handful of televised games in the early- and mid-1990s and most of those were regional encounters, many of the not-so-close variety.

Check this out: Prior to Nutt, the Hogs had an 8-29 TV record in the 1990s. Arkansas actually lost 12 of its last 13 TV games of the conservative Danny Ford era.

Since Nutt took over in 1998, Arkansas has played in 49 televised games, winning 24 of them. Of major importance, 36 of those TV matchups were national, including this season's 22-20 dramatic loss against No. 5 Texas, the 27-10 win against Alabama and last Saturday's 45-30 loss at No. 12 Florida.

Nutt's national TV record is 17-19 with his team often playing the role of underHogs against the likes of Southeastern Conference powers Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and LSU.

That mark includes some of the better nationally television games in his tenure. There was the intriguing back-and-forth SEC vs. Big 10 matchup against 15th-ranked Michigan in the 1999 Citrus Bowl, a 45-31 loss by the 11th-ranked Hogs on ABC.

In the 1999 regular season, the banged up and unranked Hogs knocked off eighth-ranked Mississippi State, 14-9, on ESPN2, and in the 2000 Cotton Bowl, No. 24 Arkansas stunned No. 14 Texas 27-6 on Fox.

A national CBS audience saw unranked Arkansas knock off No. 9 South Carolina and former Hogs coach Lou Holtz, 10-7, in 2001.

Who can forget the 2001 game at Ole Miss? Certainly not those of us who covered it and likely none who watched it on TV. In an NCAA-record seven overtimes, Matt Jones and Arkansas outdueled Eli Manning's Rebels 58-56 on ESPN2.

Little did we know Nutt's Hogs were just getting started with all that overtime stuff.

In 2002, unranked Arkansas lost, 41-38, at No. 10 Tennessee in six overtimes in front of millions of folks tuned into ESPN. Last regular-season game of 2002, the Hogs pulled of the Miracle On Markham, knocking off 18th-ranked LSU 21-20 on a last-seconds Jones to DeCori Birmingham TD combo in Little Rock.

Last season's two-overtime 34-31 win at Alabama was on CBS as was the high-intensity 33-28 loss against Florida.

Hard to beat the 2003 at Kentucky game when Jones and company pulled off an exhausting and highly-entertaining 71-63 seven-overtime win.

Voters rated it the most dramatic sports event on ESPN (ESPN2 actually carried it) last season.

This season, unranked Arkansas looked darned impressive in the loss to Texas on ESPN, during the furious second-half explosion that fell short at Florida last weekend and in the SEC season-opening win against Alabama.

Those last two were on CBS.

As is the Oct. 16 game at No. 6 Auburn when the network's top crew of Verne Lundquist and Todd Blackledge will make the calls.

The Nov. 26 game against No. 24 LSU in Little Rock will be carried by ESPN.

The Oct. 23 game against No. 3 Georgia here and the Nov. 6 game at No. 25 South Carolina seem like prime-time matchups.

Stay tuned.

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