State of the Hogs: NWA Touchdown Club

Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino will be the featured speaker at the first event for the new Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club. The kickoff luncheon will be Monday, Aug. 30.

Would you like to spend lunch with Bobby Petrino, Chris Mortensen, Ken Hatfield or a collection of the greatest Razorback quarterbacks of all time? Pretty easy answer to me. I wanted to be part of the formation of the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club.

Those are the featured speakers for the first four meetings the club has planned, said Joe Goddard, a lifelong Razorback fanatic who joined with a group of top young professionals to get things off the ground this fall.

Petrino, UA head football coach, will be the speaker at the club's first luncheon set for Monday, Aug. 30. Mortensen, ESPN's NFL expert, will follow on Wednesday, Sept. 15. Hatfield, the winningest coach in UA history, is set for Monday, Oct. 4. All luncheons are set for the Holiday Inn's Convention Center in Springdale.

Meetings will be every other week and will be typically on Wednesdays, except for two of the early meetings set for Monday because of conflicts.

The advisory board includes Goddard, Mortensen, Carter Clark, Marvin Caston, Tim Brisiel, Adam Rutledge, Darrick Bradley, John Roberts, Chuck Barrett and Lyndy Lindsey. David Bazzel, the backbone of the Little Rock Touchdown Club, is also on the advisory board and has guided the NWA organizers over the last couple of months in organizational meetings. I will also be on the advisory board. Micki Mortensen, wife of Chris, will help with event planning.

The NWA TD Club will contribute 100 percent of the profit to local charities, starting with the Razorback Foundation and the Burlsworth Foundation. Membership will be $50. Lunch for members is $15, cost of food. Non members can pay $25 per meeting.

"I relocated my family to Fayetteville three years ago from Dallas because of my love of the Hogs and to raise my family in this community," Goddard said. "One of the things I looked forward to was getting to talk about the Razorbacks. When I got moved in, it hit me that there weren't a lot of opportunities in Fayetteville and Springdale and there wasn't a touchdown club.

"I've thought about that for the last two years. There's a group we formed awhile back here of young executives, a peer group. We thought this was something that was needed. These are five or six of the most talented young businessmen in the state. We met in part to discuss our spiritual needs and how they related to business, but we like to take on needed projects, too. We thought this was a great idea for the group.

"I was involved in weekly luncheons in Dallas where football was discussed. I went to some Dallas Cowboys lunches. I think these type events for football fans are a lot of fun. It's going to be exciting to get together with great speakers and talk Razorback football."

Timing appears to be perfect.

"That's what we thought with the way Bobby Petrino has excited the fan base and the state," Goddard said. "It looks like our team is in every preseason top 20. Ryan Mallett is on Heisman lists. The hype for Razorback football is about as high as it's been.

"We had to have Coach Petrino to be our first speaker. That was a critical first step. He thinks this is a great idea and has been gracious to start us out. We have visions of some real heavy weight speakers, but to start out with Coach Petrino is huge.

"It's going to be great way for our community to give back to the Razorbacks since that's where the money is going. If we can grow to a high level, we have visions of giving to charities in our area, too. No one is paid. It's all going back to the community after expenses."

The first fall won't be weekly in an attempt to keep things manageable.

"We'll have just seven meetings this first year," Goodard said. "That was after listening to David Bazzel detail what we faced in getting it kicked off. David has been very gracious with his time and we appreciate his support on our board. He is a valuable resource. What David said from the beginning, don't bite off too much at the start.

"We plan to include area high school football, an update on Razorback football from a member of the area media each week. Chuck Barrett will be our emcee."

More details will come soon, including how to order memberships and tickets through the club's website and a phone outlet.

"We are excited about talking Razorback football in the fall," Goddard said. "We'll have a lot of info this summer. Until then, it's going to be fun watching Dave Van Horn lead this fine Razorback baseball team down the stretch."

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