Rocker Gets Big Reception

There was a somewhat surreal scene preceding No. 4 Auburn's 38-20 thrashing of unranked Arkansas on Saturday.

There stood Arkansas defensive line coach Tracy Rocker in red, his wife, Lalitha, and 4-year-old son, Kumar (wearing a Matt Jones No. 9 jersey), joining him at midfield of Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Rocker, who is in his second season with the Hogs, was honored 21 minutes before Saturday's kickoff. The former Auburn defensive tackle (1985-88) was a two-time first-team All-American and, as a senior, became the SEC's first player to win the Outland Award and Lombardi Trophy.

The 10th Auburn player/coach to enter the College Football Hall of Fame (he'll be inducted in New York in December), Rocker led the Tigers to three top-10 finishes and two SEC titles from 1985-88 and anchored the nation's top defense as a senior.

While Arkansas coach Houston Nutt watched from the visitors sideline, Rocker was presented a plaque (which will hang permanently in Auburn's Lovelace Museum) by Auburn Athletic Director David Housel and the two hugged as Rocker received a loud ovation from the crowd, most of which was standing.

Known as "The Rock" during his Auburn days, Rocker pointed to the plaque, then back at the fans before jogging toward the visitors locker room.

A picture of Rocker with the Outland and Lombardi trophies was on the cover of Auburn's game program and there was a full-page spread devoted to him inside.

"The emotional part for me is that, David Housel and (former Auburn defensive coordinator) Wayne Hall, my relationship grew close with those people here," Rocker said.

"If it wasn't for Wayne Hall and, uh ... (at that point, tears flowed and Rocker paused for about 20 seconds) he made me what I am.

"It was great. But (Rocker laughed), I've never been a guy that's wanted a whole lot of attention. I just played the game and had a good time. And all the sudden, all the attention is centered around you. It was great, but I take it with a grain of salt. But I appreciate it.

"Somebody else will come along and do the same things."


A tribute was made to another Arkansan during the pregame ceremonies. A moment of silence was classily observed for Barbara Broyles, the wife of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles, who passed away Wednesday at age 79.

The Razorbacks wore "BB" stickers on their helmets in her memory.


The Arkansas-Georgia game in Fayetteville next weekend will be televised on ESPN2.

Kickoff will be at 6 p.m.


For big road games, Nutt sometimes likes to break out the seldom-used red pants and he tried that on for size Saturday.

The first time the Hogs sported them, Arkansas upset No. 13 Mississippi State (17-10 in overtime) in Starkville during the 2000 season.

When unranked Arkansas smashed No. 24 Auburn 38-17 here two years back, Fred Talley ran wild in the red pants.

Obviously, the Hogs could've used some re-runs on Saturday.


Arkansas fielded three new starters Saturday: Redshirt right tackle Matt Gilbow (replacing injured Zac Tubbs), freshman receiver Marcus Monk (promoted after the Oct. 2 Florida game) and junior free safety Randy Kelly (promoted after the UF game).

Senior noseguard Titus Peebles (replacing Jeremy Harrell) made his second start of the season.

Monk led Arkansas with 5 receptions for 87 yards. Nutt said Gilbow played admirably, but with Jones injured and the Hogs in more of a dropback system, the timing wasn't right. Kelly had three solo tackles and Peebles had one.


Arkansas senior DeCori Birmingham didn't exactly have a banner day returning kicks, but he broke Ken Hatfield's career kick return record with a 17-yarder on the opening kickoff.

Hatifield had 1,153 punt and kickoff return yards in three seasons (1962-64).


You may have noticed a Razorback with dreadlocks wearing No. 6.

More than a passing glance revealed it was Kelly, the junior free safety, and not receiver Carlos Ousley, who sported dreadlocks and No. 6 before abruptly quitting the team after being pulled from the starting lineup following Arkansas' 45-30 loss at Florida on Oct. 2.

A transfer from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, Kelly had been wearing No. 38.


Quarterback Matt Jones, pulled groin, questionable for Saturday's Georgia game.

Running back Dedrick Poole, pulled hamstring, doubtful.

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