Texas & Arkansas: History In The Re-Making

Because every Texas player who suits up for the Texas-Arkansas game Saturday at DKR (11 a.m., C.D.T., ABC-Sports Regional) was a grade-schooler when the series between the former SWC rivals ended in 1991, they only know that this is the next game on the schedule and that it used to matter very much to several million people. It still matters, of course, but a little history lesson is in order.

One of the apt pupils is DT Marcus Tubbs. The Outland Trophy candidate has schooled many offensive lineman but, like his contemporaries, needed a little tutoring when it came to the ancient rivalry.

"For us younger guys, we don’t understand the significance of the Texas-Arkansas game," Tubbs said. "My (defensive tackles) coach (Mike Tolleson) emphasizes the tradition of the old Southwest Conference, and we try to understand it but I guess we don’t. We know it’s the next game and we know it’s going to be a big game. That’s how we’re looking at it."

Even well-intended players attempting to pay homage to the series may need to brush up on their college football history.

"I take it (the series) must mean a lot," SE Roy Williams said Monday, "what with the Horns down (referencing Arkansas coach Houston Nutt’s sideline gesture in the 2000 Cotton Bowl)…and Coach Royal and Coach…uh…Coach…whatever his name…what’s his name?"

That would be Coach Frank Broyles, Roy.

"Yeah, him," Williams continued. "It’s a pretty good rivalry and it will definitely continue."

Well, not really. Despite dropping the last two in the series, Texas owns a commanding 54-20 advantage. And there is no thought of renewing the rivalry beyond the one time home-and-away series, head coach Mack Brown said.

"When you’re in a tough league, do you play tough teams out of conference?" Brown wondered aloud. "We’ve got Arkansas next year in Fayetteville, and then we’ve got Ohio State two years in row. Is that smart? I don’t think anyone knows. Without playoffs, and with the BCS being talked about in Congress, where do we go from here?"

Brown initiated the idea of a brief series renewal when he arrived six years ago when "crowds were down and enthusiasm was down and some students weren’t coming and some were leaving early." Brown pitched the series to Texas Men’s Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds (as well as to former coaches Darrell Royal, David McWilliams and Fred Akers) to solicit their input.

"Because it was such an intense rivalry -- not those three -- but some people felt like it wasn’t smart because we’ve got enough rivalries and the Big 12 is tough enough," Brown said. "I felt like it would honor both Coach Royal and Coach Broyles. It would be a great chance to go back and touch history in college football because that series meant so much at that time."

Now, at a time when folks are generally arriving early, wearing orange, and staying late, any series renewal will likely result from another Cotton Bowl matchup.

The last time the teams hooked up in Austin, Texas reeled off 29 points while holding the Hogs scoreless in the final frame to post a 49-17 shellacking.

It still means much to Razorback fans (in fact, more than most Orangebloods can fathom). Consider this comment from Nutt Monday.

"When it was first announced that we were going to play Texas," Nutt said, "it seems like for the last four years one of the first things an Arkansas fan will bring up would be that we were getting ready to play Texas again."

Four years? And we’ve thought about Arkansas for, what, four days?

Either way, it’s Hog killing time in Austin again.


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