When Cultures Collide

FAYETTEVILLE -- Former Southern California fullback Manfred Moore will never forget the look on fans' faces when the Trojans team bus rumbled into the parking lot at War Memorial Stadium in 1972.

The California native was prepared for the worst when USC made the long trip to Arkansas. He heard stories about the South. But when Moore saw the Razorbacks faithful staring at the bus, he was a little surprised by the relatively quiet reception.

"People were in awe of us," Moore remembered Thursday. "They weren't excited or booing us. They weren't shaking their fist at us.

"They were looking at us like, 'California. Look at those guys. That's them.'"

Cultures -- and curiosities -- collided when Arkansas and USC met in a three-game series that kicked off the 1972, 1973 and 1974 seasons. Nobody really knew what to expect when Hollywood faced off against rural America.

Both schools had rich traditions and combined for three national championships in the 1960s, but never met until coaches Frank Broyles and John McKay agreed to match wits shortly after the NCAA extended the college season to 11 games.

It didn't have the same meaning as Arkansas-Texas. Or USC-Notre Dame. But memories of the three-year series have been rekindled this week because the teams will meet for the first time in 31 seasons when the Razorbacks and top-ranked Trojans play in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night.

"(USC) was the bearer of national championships and success," said Broyles, Arkansas' athletic director. "They had a long run of bowl teams and national championships. They played Notre Dame every year. We felt like we matched up with them even though they were talented. We went in to win. Not to play good.

"It was a significant opportunity to play them."

New Experiences
Broyles admits that the series probably came about because of Arkansas fans.

There was a growing sentiment that Arkansas needed to play against a top-notch opponent on its nonconference schedule. Broyles went along with it and knew immediately who he wanted: USC. He called McKay, his good friend, who agreed to the series and the first day was set for Sept. 9, 1972.

But Broyles can't remember how the Hogs got two home games in the series.

"It's a miracle," Broyles said. "I told the people down at Little Rock Touchdown Club (last month) that, for that third game, John McKay and I played a golf game and I beat him. I had an illegal handicap, but I didn't tell him. I don't remember for the life of me how we got the third game again. But you'll never see it again."

Former Arkansas assistant coach Harold Horton, who is vice president of the Razorback Foundation, said it was an experience. Former tailback Dickey Morton said the anticipation was obvious because the buildup lasted all summer.

"That's all you talk about in the summer," Morton said. "When school was out, I went to Dallas and worked. That's all you heard about down there.

"It gets around. Everywhere you went, if people knew you, they'd talk about the football game coming up."

The Trojans entered the year coming off consecutive disappointing, 6-4-1 seasons and were determined to return to the Rose Bowl after a two-year absence. The team was made up of veterans like senior fullback Sam Cunningham, who sustained a knee injury in 1971, and unknown, newcomers like sophomore linebacker Richard Wood.

Arkansas had star power of its own in quarterback Joe Ferguson. The Razorbacks finished second in the Southwest Conference after an 8-3-1 season, but were hoping for more with veterans like Ferguson, Morton, Louis Campbell and Tom Reed.

"Everybody wanted to skip ahead and look at that game," said Campbell, who is Arkansas' director of football operations. "Coaches tell you not to do it.

"But in the back of your mind you still look forward to it because it's an experience that a lot of these guys haven't had."

Bigger, Faster, Stronger
Former Arkansas tight end Steve Hedgepeth had a good idea the Hogs were embarking on a brutal challenge when he stepped out of the locker room and onto the War Memorial Stadium turf for pregame warm-ups in 1972.

Arkansas offensive line coach Joe Gibbs tried to convince the Razorbacks that the Trojans weren't bigger, faster and stronger. It didn't matter to Gibbs, who coached under McKay at USC in 1969 and 1970, that the blackboard with players' heights and weight pointed out a noticeable discrepancy.

"He told us right before we went out for warm-ups in Little Rock, he said, 'They're really not as big as you think they are,'" Hedgepeth said. "He said, 'They wear oversized numbers.' I thought it was an interesting comment to calm us down."

But it didn't take long for Hedgepeth to see the difference.

"I was running a little warm-up route and Ferguson threw the ball over my head," Hedgepeth said. "I went down to pick it up and I was standing next to Cunningham, who wore No. 39. I went back to Ferguson and said, 'Let me tell you something, that's (expletive) on those numbers.

"That guy down there is a running back and he's as big or bigger than I am."

Hedgepeth said USC's team speed was better than anyone they'd seen. It was a hot, sticky, humid night on Arkansas' artificial turf but the Trojans, who weren't used to the elements, didn't suffer.

A raucous crowd tried to inspire the Hogs, but quarterback Pat Haden, who was a backup in 1972 before starting in 1973 and 1974, said the Trojans maintained their poise. It wasn't easy in unfamiliar territory, with football-crazed fans wearing unusual Hog-shaped hats and chanting Woo Pig Sooie!

"I grew up in Southern California, and walking out to warm up and hearing all these people doing the Sooie Pig and wearing those Razorback hats, I said, 'Wow, this is really important to these people," Haden said. "It was just kind of different and neat. It was a different flavor and perspective that the fans had."

Arkansas grabbed a 3-0 lead and the game was tied at 3 at halftime. But in the second half, Campbell said the Trojans wore down Arkansas' defense with Cunningham, tight end Charles Young, receiver Lynn Swann and other weapons.

USC won 31-10 and finished the season 12-0.

Arkansas won its next four games, but finished a disappointing 6-5.

"We were motivated the night before when we were watching the news," Cunningham said. "I can't remember the players interviewed. But they said they looked at Southern California as a steppingstone to the national championship.

"We were a little bit taken aback by that. We were not, by any means, dreaming of a national championship at that point.

"But we weren't going to be anybody's steppingstone."

'Scared To Death'
The Trojans used Arkansas for that, rising to No. 1 in the polls and winning their third national championship under McKay. Tailback Anthony Davis, who was a sophomore reserve, believes the 1972 team was the "best talent ever assembled."

It's hard to argue.

Five Trojans -- Cunningham, Wood, tight end Charles Young, tackle Pete Adams and defensive lineman John Grant -- were named All-Americans. Six other Trojans that were a part of that team earned All-American honors in 1973 or 1974.

That's why Horton said the Razorbacks coaches were scared to death when they prepared for USC in 1973. The defending national champions were ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll and entered the season with most of its talent returning.

"We were a young team," Horton said. "I remember going out there, we were a young team and (the coaches) we were scared to death of just getting beat bad."

Horton remembers walking down the ramp into the stadium, staring at a sea of cardinal and gold and watching the Trojan horse galloping around the field. It was a legendary venue. Hedgepeth, then a senior, said it took awhile to adjust.

"It took me a little while to get acclimated to the Coliseum because, as a child, you watched that," Hedgepeth said. "For me, as a senior, I was in awe of the place. It was a place where you'd seen 30 great games on TV."

Arkansas, playing without injured quarterback Scott Bull, didn't turn in a good day on offense behind new quarterback Mike Kirkland. The defense, on the other hand, surrendered just one touchdown in the first three quarters to keep the game 7-0.

"I looked at the schedule and saw where the toughest games were and they were all in the latter part of the season," Moore said. "What happened is, we rested in the rankings. Arkansas was down. But we were highly rated because of the prior year."

USC finally flexed its muscle and won the game thanks to 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a 15-yard Haden touchdown run with less than two minutes remaining. The loss was hard to swallow, but Morton said it was a memorable trip for the Hogs, most of whom traveled to California for the first time in their lives.

But Horton said Broyles had a different feeling when the team returned.

"It seemed like when we were coming back from Southern Cal, we had to land in Fort Smith and ride the bus back," Horton said. "I'll never forget. Coach Broyles said, 'I let the fans talk me into playing these games.' He said, 'I won't let that happen again.'

"We knew that we had played a great team and competed with them toe-to-toe. But at the same time, it gave us a direction to go in our program. We knew too that we weren't the caliber team that they were."

Over The Hump
That changed in 1974 when the teams met for the third and final time.

In fact, linebacker Dennis Winston said Arkansas was disappointed about the 1973 game. So, with an influx of new players like running back Ike Forte, and Winston, his teammates worked harder in the preseason to prepare for USC.

Davis, with Winston close by, only rushed for 74 yards on 20 carries. Haden was intercepted four times and didn't complete a pass until the end of the third quarter.

"I threw interception after interception and I remember the look of disgust on coach John McKay's face every time I walked back to the sideline," Haden said. "It was awful. It was funny because John Robinson, who was the offensive coordinator, convinced coach McKay to open it up and throw the ball a little more.

"So we kind of laid an egg in our very first game."

Winston led a defense that shut the Trojans out. USC's only score came on Davis' 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter. It tied the game at 7, but that was as close as Davis and USC would get in its 22-7 loss.

"Anthony Davis knew who Dennis Winston was," Horton said. "When he tackled Anthony Davis, he went backwards. I always said he dropped him like a dead bird."

Said Winston: "Well, the only thing I know, every time I hit him I heard the wind go out of him. I ran right through him every time."

Winston was named national lineman of the week for his efforts, which broke Arkansas' two-year skid against the Trojans. He credited Horton for preparing him.

It was the only game USC lost that season. The Trojans rebounded to win nine of their final 10 games (they tied California) and won their second national championship in two seasons.

"They did something in their coverages because (Haden) threw four interceptions," Davis said. "That did it right there. Dennis did a good job containing me. But if those four interceptions weren't thrown it would've been a different game.

"They played a great game in 74. They played a good defensive game. But we came on back and got strong and won another national title."

Arkansas didn't have the same luck. It lost the next week to Oklahoma State, finished 6-4-1 and missed out on a bowl game for the third straight season. But Winston said the season was important. It set Arkansas up for 1975, when they won the SWC for the last time under Broyles and finished 10-2.

Looking back, Winston believes USC-Arkansas was a great series because of the talented players and coaches like Swann, Wood, Gibbs and others that went on to NFL careers. Haden called it an eye-opener, helping him realize he was living in a big, diverse country. Broyles said it was a rewarding opportunity to play a program like USC in the 1970s and, at least once, emerge with a win.

"You know, the one who won last is the champion," Broyles joked. "So we're the champion."

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