As Arkansas fans, we were happy when former Arkansas coach Jack Crowe lead his DI-AA Jacksonville State team to a 49-48 victory Saturday over Ole Miss and former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. On the surface, it was delight in the coincidence that former Arkansas coach Jack Crowe’s DI-AA team, the same Jack Crowe who was no longer Arkansas’ football coach after losing to DI-AA The Citadel, beat former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt’s team at Ole Miss. Below the surface, Jack Crowe’s Jacksonville State victory represented something much harder to describe.
On September 5, 1992, in the game immediately before Arkansas’ historic entry into Southeast Conference football against South Carolina, Jack Crowe’s Arkansas team lost 10-3 to DI-AA opponent, The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. Some time that evening or maybe in the early morning hours of September 6, 1992, Jack Crowe was no longer the Arkansas Razorbacks’ head football coach as decided by the Who’s Who of Arkansas Razorbacks Football.
As long-time, if not iconic, Arkansas sports writer Harry King would describe it,
All around Razorback Stadium, Arkansas football fans were complaining. They were stung by a 10-3 loss to The Citadel.
Fire Crowe, they said.
Upstairs, on the fourth floor of the press box, Jack Crowe looked like a man in trouble. But he still prepared for his television show. And he was talking with the co-host about changes he wanted to make in the future.
There was no inkling that he would be out of work one game deep into a new five-year contract.
Saturday night, athletic director Frank Broyles met with some of the Arkansas hierarchy. The subject was Crowe and the football program.
The meeting resumed at 7:30 a.m. Sunday and continued until noon. Associate A.D. Wilson Matthews was present. So was senior associate A.D. Terry Don Phillips, associate A.D. Bill Gray and Razorback Foundation president Chuck Dicus.
“We discussed the options that we had to play for the rest of the season,” Broyles said. “I think the primary focus…was if we were going to make a decision, whether it be in the middle of the season or at the end of the season, then the program would be much better off if we made it now to let the new coach have a full season to accomplish his goals. We were either going to make it now or at the end of the season.”
Arkansas was 3-8 in 1990 and some people wanted Crowe’s scalp before the 1991 season ended, the Razorbacks’ last in the Southwest Conference before starting play this season in the Southeastern Conference.
The hard core didn’t want to hear that Arkansas was 5-2 before quarterback Jason Allen tore up his knee. After three straight losses, there was talk that Crowe would be canned if he didn’t handle Rice. They did, 20-0, and would up in the Independence Bowl against Georgia.
Still, there were grumblings.
Arkansas hired Greg Davis as offensive coordinator and switched to the one-back offense with promises of pro-type passing and excitement. More than once, the Arkansas offense was mentioned in the same breath with that of the Washington Redskins.
During the summer, Broyles said the Razorbacks were in the offense of the 21st century.
On Saturday, against a Division I-AA opponent, the Razorbacks made 287 yards. They completed 11 of 23 passes and their wide receivers caught one ball.
Early Sunday afternoon, Broyles and Crowe talked.
At a news conference with reporters, he handled questions without giving a clue that his tenure was over. Afterward, the announcement was crafted – the company line was that Crowe had stepped down.
Crowe said it in 65 words; Broyles in 52.
“It was obvious the program is not where we want it to be and not where it should be,” Crowe said in his one-paragraph statement. “It is in the best interests of all concerned that the head coaching responsibility be turned over to someone else.” “Jack Crowe and I have discussed the status of the football program during his tenure as head coach and I agree with his assessment,” Broyles said in his statement.
A couple of hours later, Broyles introduced Joe Kines as interim head coach.
When asked if Crowe was fired, Broyles said, “We both agreed that we weren’t at the point that we should be. The decision was made mutually.” He gave another rambling answer to a similar question, but slipped up when he said the Razorback Foundation would pay for Crowe’s $84,000-a-year contract. “The Foundation is, by contract, committed to fulfilling contracts in the case of dismissals,” he said.
Arkansas lost Saturday when a defensive end picked up a fumble and ran 34 yard for a touchdown. Broyles said he and Crowe discussed, at length, whether one game did in Crowe.
“It was a decision of the ’90 season, the ’91 season, the progress that we hoped to be at,” he said.
He also mentioned Saturday’s attendance of 35,828, one of the smallest crowds in Fayetteville in years.
“The hard core fans were there but the ones that pick and choose weren’t,” he said. “It’s not any on person’s fault. It’s an accumulation of the last five years.”
In the two years prior to Crowe, Arkansas went 10-2, 10-2 under Ken Hatfield and won back-to-back SWC titles.
Broyles gushed about Crow when he hired him Jan. 22, 1990 to replace Ken Hatfield, who left his alma mater for the job at Clemson.
Arkansas was Crowe’s first head coaching job on the major-college level. No sweat, Broyles said. He told a search committee that he would have recommended Crowe if he had three months to find a coach. “Most of you know that I put a lot of confidence and a lot of faith in a coach who knows how to call signals,” Broyles said at the time. “I’ve always thought that Lou Holtz was the No. 1 signal caller in the college game today. I now tell you that in my opinion our new coach is his equal.”
While plainly more was involved in Jack Crowe’s leaving than simply losing to The Citadel, Arkansas fans knew some matters needed correcting in 1992. Maybe he wasn’t the coach for Arkansas, but in hindsight, his firing after the first game of the season and an embarrassing loss was heavy-handed, even by football standards.
Chapters in a lengthy book might begin to address all of the sides and currents found in Harry King’s 1992 story. For here, they are only outlined in summary fashion.
“The hard core fans were there but the ones that pick and choose weren’t,” [Broyles] said. “It’s not any one person’s fault. It’s an accumulation of the last five years.” In the two years prior to Crowe, Arkansas went 10-2, 10-2 under Ken Hatfield and won back-to-back SWC titles.
Wrapped into four lines were themes that vexed Razorback football for two decades.
Were there “five years” of events that culminated in Crowe’s firing? Harry King didn’t believe it and essentially says, “If you are telling the truth, then how do you explain two 10-2 seasons immediately before Crowe? Why are you laying this on Hatfield?”
Whether right or wrong, the apparent distrust of the “company line” evident at Crowe’s firing defined the era for time to come.
Maybe Mr. King was wrong in failing to consider that one game in 1987 exposed Arkansas’ football program on all levels or in failing to consider whether Broyles’ statement might be true. When No. 10 Arkansas lost to Miami, FL, 51-7 at the hands of former Arkansas player Jimmy Johnson, a No. 10 Arkansas ranking coming from the Southwest Conference meant zero. Arkansas wasn’t in the same game as Miami that year, and moreover, the offense kept trying to pound the ball between the tackles repeatedly and couldn’t throw the ball.
On the field was a much more glaring choice not made. As good of a man Ken Hatfield is, was, and always will be, he was chosen over Jimmy Johnson after Lou Holtz left the Arkansas head coach position. Hatfield was pummeled on the field in ‘87 and was now getting thrown under the bus while it could be viewed that Broyles made the wrong choice of coaches for Arkansas when Hatfield was hired. Arkansas’ Jimmy Johnson took the University of Miami to the National Championship in that year, 1987, five years before Crowe’s firing.
For Crowe and every coach, at issue has been the number of people in the stands. The hardcore fans, including baconmaker, were at that game.
Arkansas hired Greg Davis as offensive coordinator and switched to the one-back offense with promises of pro-type passing and excitement.
More than once, the Arkansas offense was mentioned in the same breath with that of the Washington Redskins.
During the summer, Broyles said the Razorbacks were in the offense of the 21st century.
On Saturday, against a Division I-AA opponent, the Razorbacks made 287 yards. They completed 11 of 23 passes and their wide receivers caught one ball.
Crowe’s “offense of the 21st Century” was certainly reflective of fan desires in 1992 in name. Other than some moments in the 15 years that followed, Arkansas fans waited for a passing game and saw similar passing numbers put on the board from offenses to come. Fans even lamented it not being present during the best running attack in the history of college football with McFadden and Jones. The reality was that throwing the ball might have made the season even better especially with a wide-open, Gus Malzahn offense. Malzahn went elsewhere while the promises made as early as 1992 failed to be realized again. It was simply too much.
At a news conference with reporters, he [Crowe] handled questions without giving a clue that his tenure was over. Afterward, the announcement was crafted – the company line was that Crowe had stepped down. …He [Broyles] gave another rambling answer to a similar question, [sic] but slipped up when he said the Razorback Foundation would pay for Crowe’s $84,000-a-year contract.
Crowe never became a part of the establishment and admitted his faults. Unlike Crowe, when Nutt encountered problems effecting the ball club which weren’t considered to be of his making, HDN had a contract in hand and essentially a two-year pass, losing or not, to remain as head coach. The cozy relationship made Nutt the equivalent of a union leader who sides with management. [Yeah, the Cate Brothers’ “Union Man” should be playing in the background.]
“Most of you know that I put a lot of confidence and a lot of faith in a coach who knows how to call signals,” Broyles said at the time.
And that’s the way it’s been.
A couple of hours later, Broyles introduced Joe Kines as interim head coach.
Kines was now the third coach in three years to be followed by Danny Ford shortly thereafter, and Nutt after him. Coaching transitions kept Arkansas football unstable for the better part of the 1990s while Nutt was hired instead of potentially Tommy Tuberville. Rumor is that Pete Carroll’s call went unreturned. The succession of Arkansas’ coaches might have been Broyles, Holtz, Johnson…Tuberville..Petrino. Plainly Crowe’s firing was indicative of things to come and may have continued to give the Arkansas administration one more opportunity to bring in a coach with a style promised for a decade. However, a mutually beneficial arrangement with Nutt kept the same ol’ same ol’.
For all the good Frank Broyles, his methods and standards brought the University of Arkansas, it wasn’t until he had announced his retirement that fundamental changes were made to produce what was promised around Jack Crowe’s time.
Although Jeff Long and staff will never have the stature of Broyles, Matthews, Dicus and Phillips, he’s helped to restore some measure of trust in the program after Frank Broyles retired as Athletic Director on December 31, 2007, and John White after him. Long may make tough, unpopular decisions and isn’t perfect, but he doesn’t appear to shade his words.
Fate and Bobby Petrino kept Arkansas from having Michigan’s offensive coordinator (the one at the helm when the Wolverines lost to Division I-AA Appalachian State), Tommy Bowden, or Jim Grobe as a head coach. This time Arkansas hired the best coach available anywhere.
In the same strike, Petrino’s promise of a wide-open spread offense, not terribly unlike the offense Miami employed 20 years before, wasn’t a hollow promise, it was just right. It was fulfillment of 15 years of promises made by others.
Before last weekend, time had changed us to wish for something different for Jack Crowe and for Houston Nutt.
Considering events before Coach Crowe, all that followed since his tenure, and the professional way Crowe handled himself as he was being ushered out the door, Arkansas fans have been ambivalent toward Jack Crowe over the years. “Getting fired for losing to a DI-AA school” bound Arkansas and Crowe like the college football equivalent of Bill Buckner “losing the World Series for the Red Sox” or Steve Bartman “keeping the Cubs from the World Series.” No matter how many times the true story is told, that’s the way it’s remembered. Even separate from years of embarrassment, many fans regretted the circumstances for Crowe and Arkansas.
While Crowe worked his way back and even left coaching for a while, Nutt remained in our headlines and came to our field with a conference division foe after banking a $3,000,000 golden parachute. How we wished we had that money to pay Bobby Petrino as his contract expires! Nutt represented the last visible remnant of the cozy apparatus which couldn’t deliver what fans wanted for 20 years… but which the new system brought to fruition in the first year the apparatus was gone.
ArkansasSports360.com’s Chris Bahn rightfully called Jackson State’s victory a moment of redemption for Jack Crowe.
Although neither Crowe nor Arkansas fans could remake the past, he may have been the only one who could push it into history faster than time itself.
Last Saturday Crowe transferred the burden of The Citadel loss to the last person complicit in the system which could have done better for Jack Crowe and could have delivered as promised for Arkansas. It’s only that much sweeter that the team receiving the burden of “embarrassment” was Ole Miss which thought so little of Arkansans’ reasoning that they felt Houston Nutt was the right coach for them. While Nutt was an assistant coach under Crowe and even coached the receivers, he was never involved in any part of the hiring or firing decisions regarding Jack Crowe’s tenure, but after Crowe, he helped the same dull influence extend for years. Now, Michigan, Ole Miss and active coach Houston Nutt are now the references for Division I-AA teams beating BCS teams, effectively leaving Crowe and The Citadel game relegated to the distant past before Arkansas began SEC play. Not even The Citadel’s yearly media guide placed its Arkansas win among the school’s most notable games.
Coincidence doesn’t even begin to cover what was under the surface.
We are glad for you, Jack Crowe… and many thanks to you.
This is an addition to this post and should really be at the top, in the place it deserves to be because some things are not meant to be and never should be lost. I trolled this article from someplace I don’t remember and it’s been sitting elsewhere for better than a year. The article is the Arkansas Times’ property and no right or claim is made. If it were available in something other than a trolled post, the article would be linked.
It is not a stretch to say that this has to be considered in the discussion of the most prophetic pieces of sports journalism in history. Written in 1997, it was the groundwork for what came to pass after Orville Henry died in 2002. — Sharp
Broyles bows to emotion, chancellor
Colonel Reb in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ finish
Houston Dale Colonel Reb is unique.
He is the only Arkansas Razorback football coach to have been chosen by players.
Former players, and present ones.
He’s the only Arkansas coach whose choice was based on emotion, not reason or the facts of the matter.
He owes his selection to the new chancellor, John A. White, who laid down a Mary Poppins (some say junior high) set of rules for the selection process. And he owes the athletic director, Frank Broyles, who, out of loyalty to the chancellor, his boss, and in respect for his former players who made the semi-final recommendation, did not, as he might have in the past, manipulate the designation to the man he actually thought best qualified.
It all came down to an Alice in Wonderland finish.
And as you read this account of the selection process, you may decide that this may be the last time the University of Arkansas will permit gossip exchanged between players at Arkansas and Mississippi to decide who is the best coach to direct the Razorbacks.
Or, maybe not.
Colonel Reb may turn out to be the best thing to hit Arkansas since, as they used to say, sliced bread. He obviously can move people. Eventually, that won’t be the telling factor. My experience is that you win with good athletes who are taught what to do and who then can go out and do it without thinking and who then can call on their emotions when this is what is required. The recruiting, the organization and the teaching is what does this.
Houston, one believes, knows this, and this doesn’t mean he can’t call on emotional gimmickry that he has used at Murray State and Boise State.
In the long run, as well as immediately, he and his staff (suspect at this point, inevitably, and maybe unfairly so) will have to out-recruit and out-coach the most seasoned, savvy coaches blessed with the strongest, fastest, most aggressive players in collegiate football.
And maybe they will.
The formula for obtaining a replacement for Danny Ford, whose three-year contract was bought out Sunday, Nov. 30, the day after his fifth team finished 4-7 for the second year in a row, was laid down immediately by Chancellor White, who was said to have brought it with him from Georgia Tech, where it had been used.
The key people were the six members of what might have been called a Captains Committee: All six either were or functioned as quarterbacks or captains of notable Razorback teams. They were:
•Eddie Bradford, originally of Little Rock, a tackle for Bowden Wyatt’s 1954 SWC champions, a career hospital administrator who now runs NARTI, a cancer facility, in Springdale.
•GTMF, originally of Forrest City, a wingback and leader on the national championship (11-0) team of 1964; a player-coach in the kicking game with the Minnesota Vikings for seven years; the main man in Lindsey & Associates (Broyles is one of the latter) who has revamped burgeoning Northwest Arkansas with his real estate expertise.
•Bill Montgomery, originally of Carrolton, a Dallas suburb, THE quarterback during Arkansas’ 29-5 spree of 1968-70, a successful Grand Prairie (Dallas) businessman, strong U of A supporter.
•Scott Bull, originally of Jonesboro, quarterback of Broyles’ last Cotton Bowl team (a 31-10 win over Georgia); briefly San Francisco 49ers quarterback; a top executive of Pace Industries and its successor.
•Quinn Grovey, originally of Duncan, Okla., only quarterback to take Arkansas to two straight Cotton Bowls, 1989-90; holder of school records until Barry Lunney came along; a rising major supervisor in the Wal-Mart organization.
•Earl Scott, originally from North Little Rock, over-achieving center who survived to provide leadership and earn rewards for the SEC-West title in 1995; now back at the U of A working toward a degree after a stint in Europe as a pro footballer.
The function of these six was to interview candidates and, eventually, to recommend one, two or three to the Search or Screening Committee, which would then join the Captains Committee in making a choice and pass it on to Broyles who would then pass the nominee on to the chancellor, the president, B. Alan Sugg, and the Board of Trustees.
Broyles served as consultant to both groups, but, whether on his own or at the instruction of White isn’t clear, Broyles did not sit in on any interviews. He would wait for them to end, and then, in private give the candidate the job specifics–salary, perks, working conditions, etc.
For purposes of this article, I did not speak with White or Broyles. My information comes from what I call the Captains Committee, where the decision was actually made.
From the start, the obvious front runner would be Tommy Tuberville of Ole Miss, who had come in under adverse circumstances and done a live-wire job for three years at Ole Miss. Indeed, he would be named SEC coach of this year the day Colonel Reb was hired.
Obviously, Tuberville was not interested in an interview or a drawn-out, public process. He needed this to be done the old way, a couple of phone calls, no visits (he knew Arkansas, his home state, very well), a quick announcement, done.
Except, he was told, no one would be hired without an interview, although it could take place privately at a remote place. In that case, he said, making a fatal mistake, he wanted his interview to be the last one, and not at all if he were not to be offered the job. Tuberville, who DID work around Jimmy Johnson a lot, as well as Larry Lacewell, can be wittily waspish at times. (A Captains Committee man did allow, “Bear Bryant was Hitler at times, but he won, and we want a winner.”)
Tuberville’s interview took place in a room at the Quality Inn near a New York City airport that caters to private jets, like the Kingair one of the Captains had borrowed from his firm (which was probably reimbursed by the Razorback Foundation for this trip.)
By this time, the Captains were nearly exhausted, as well as short-tempered, when they reached Fayetteville that night, where the decision was made. And that proved to be a heckuva break for Colonel Reb.
Coming from a $125,000 job at Boise State, which would forgive him what would seem to be a perfunctory bid for the job at his home state university, Colonel Reb could appear in outgoing form in Fayetteville, greeted by an entourage that had been preparing for this day for a month.
Houston Dale was charming, and the Captains, who listened to him for going on four hours, were charmed.
The Broyles Center became infused with enthusiasm for the onetime War Memorial Stadium ball boy who could come back talking of a national championship for his Hogs. Under-40 fans from Little Rock ran to their faxes, seconding the nomination. Writers and TV people from the little boomtowns on the Highway 71 corridor penned and broadcast immediate hosannahs for Houston.
Beyond belief, for one with no head coaching experience at this level, Colonel Reb became the front runner–in the media.
No one in the past, of course, had been allowed to use the interview process as a mighty advertisement, a political-type rally.
“He impressed us totally,” one Captain says. “I do believe that he won us over with something Danny hardly ever had showed us: his enthusiasm, his lack of negativism.”
The big thing? “We did not hold it against Houston that he did not have any head coaching against the likes of the SEC in his background. We already knew that Terry Bowden had gone from little Samford to do well at Auburn and Jim Donnan from Marshall to Georgia. Others, as well. That was not a consideration to us.”
They worked, these Captains did.
“None of us had any experience at this, but we learned,” one of them said. “We were NOT going to violate John Barnhill’s old rule that says don’t hire anything but proven head coaches. We interviewed several of Danny’s assistants, though, to get practice and also to learn from them if things people were saying had been true. None of them knocked Coach Broyles. They said he’d never butted in and they kinda wished that he would have. They wanted to win just like he did.”
They did see that contact was made with Butch Davis, the Springdale product who had been a scholarship athlete at Arkansas, although injuries kept him from making the team, and who said in all his days at Miami, Dallas, and now at Miami, he’d wanted to be head coach at Arkansas.
A Captain said, “Butch had a clause in his contract which would cost any school taking him $925,000, I think. We knew that John Tyson (son of poultry magnate Don Tyson) had volunteered to pay that for us, no problem. Butch said that as much as he appreciates Johnny, he doesn’t believe that would be appropriate. Besides, Butch said, he felt he had a blemish against him at the University of Miami and that he needed to erase that and finish the job there. We sorta got the idea, too, that the taste of the NFL he got with the Cowboys has left him with an eye for the pros. No hard feelings, though.”
Of the 27 names submitted, eight were head coaches.
There was so much interest in The Other Bowden, the one who turned Tulane around in one year, that the Captains had Bill Montgomery make the only call they made.
“You know,” said one Captain, “I know that Bobby, the daddy, at Florida State, and Terry, at Auburn, talk every week. I think that’s a big thing. And I think the latest one would get a lot of help from that.”
But the new Bowden told Montgomery that he had 21 returning starters at Tulane and that he thought he could get to the top there quicker than at Arkansas. He probably had looked at Arkansas’ killer schedule.
Of the aides who did visit, the Captains listened in awe to Tennessee play-caller David Cutcliffe three hours. “It was the first time I’ve seen one of those guys pull out his computer, give us the facts and tell us what play he’d call next,” said one. “After watching him, I feel for Houston,” one said. The assistant they truly loved was George Stewart, late of Notre Dame, now of the 49ers.
They went to Oklahoma City for a visit–“a courtesy call, really,” with Bob Simmons, the miracle man at Oklahoma State. “Splendid, impressive,” but Simmons says he has more work to do at OSU.
Late, Dennis Franchione of New Mexico entranced them. He probably would have finished No. 3 on the list–if they’d ever finished one.
The Louisiana Tech head coach who declined to interview called back asking for one, but too late.
The interview with Tuberville in New York (where many would attend the National Football Hall of Fame banquet) began at 5:30 a.m. Arkansas time. It lasted until 9:30.
Tuberville had no problem stating his case, a good one, but sharp questioning followed. He had been an assistant at Miami on the day the Hurricanes suffered more than 200 yards in penalties in the Cotton Bowl, mostly by seniors taunting Texas, which had a player who started this sort of thing at parties attended by both during the week.
Yes, they were out of control, but he was not the head coach, Tuberville said. He maintained discipline at Mississippi. Oh? someone asked him. How about the five-minute fight just before the kickoff of last month’s game against aMm? Recruiting violations came up. Ole Miss was clean, Tuberville said. The NCAA had spent a month last spring clearing the program (In which violations by Billy Brewer’s regime had led to Tuberville’s hiring.)
Still, one Colonel Reb man granted that, “Tuberville could win an SEC championship in the next three years.”
But one Captains man said, “The way Arkansas pushed them around at Fayetteville last year (coming from behind to win on a Pete Burks pass in the fourth quarter), I didn’t see much motivation.”
By then it was 3-3, Colonel Reb and Tuberville. Strangely, as the Captains filled out grades for each in the various categories, a truly impossible and dubious system, they stood even, 441 points to 441.
Broyles, who had questioned the validity of the latter measurement system, part of the chancellor’s plan, one is told, went with Tuberville to talk terms.
According to various reports, and the rest of this is sketchy and barebones from a rather frantic scene, Tuberville had been offered around $1 million each for five years or maybe $850,000 each for seven.
It then occurred to them that they couldn’t meet Tuberville’s 12-hour deadline and also get home and submit findings to the big committee plus White and Sugg, as they’d been instructed. Broyles was told to telephone Tuberville and inform him that he had a 3-3 tie and could not give him a decision within 12 hours. When he made the call, he apparently was talking to Tuberville’s agent–and he could hear Mississippi people talking offers in the background. This report jolted the Captains.
Was there an offer? An acceptance? Who knew?
Furthermore, when the Arkansas party picked up a report from Mississippi they felt sure that the Ole Miss folks were quoting the exact figures Broyles had written on a slip of paper for Tuberville. They felt they could deduce only that Tuberville was using the offer to milk more from Ole Miss, something still in the realm of only conjecture.
These weary people got into the plane to return to Fayetteville for a major meeting. The plane’s pilot reported a strong headwind. They had to stop in Terre Haute, Ind., to refuel. When they landed in Fayetteville, they heard from a four-man group of athletes who said they’d been talking to Ole Miss players who put the knock on Tuberville, saying that he was “more negative” than Ford had been. Two-bit, questionable stuff, that.
The exhausted, nettled Captains re-caucused. By 5-1, they opted for Colonel Reb.
Broyles, though a Tuberville man, telephoned Colonel Reb that the plane from Fayetteville would leave shortly to pick him up as Arkansas’s next head football coach.
Shortly, Tuberville sent word, probably through Lindsey (or a friend) at Helena, that he’d accept Broyles’ terms. Too late.
Montgomery, the Tuberville holdout, had stayed in New York. He agreed to change his vote, make it unanimous, 6-0.
Houston Dale, do good.
From Orville’s Notepad on December 12, 1997
Orville Henry: Loose ends about search for UA coach
BACKGROUND: Colonel Reb, the new Arkansas coach, explains that he transferred to OSU after the 1977 season, his second at Arkansas, so he could play more. So what does he say to the No. 2 or No. 3 Arkansas quarterback who decides he might disregard loyalty and take the same route for the same reason? What does he say if the athlete does transfer without telling his Arkansas coach, which is how he, Houston, did it?
Actually, there is more OSU Cowboy in Houston’s background, playing and coaching, than there is Arkansas Razorback.
BUSINESS: There is nothing in this situation about Arkansas needing to do something for someone else. This is a business matter, simple and brutal. Arkansas needs a job done for its football program, immediately, professionally. To heck with friendships. Make enemies, if necessary, but acquire the man who has proved himself at this level, and win, and now. That has always been Arkansas’ mode of operation. Hiring to try to sell tickets has proved to be a failure every time. Win, and Arkansas fans will respond.
Arkansas now has an array of quarterbacks, without which there is nothing, and running backs on campus with others available, and excellent prospects as linebackers. Those are the people you win with (although who can overlook linemen and defensive backs?)
We need a hired gun — not people with youthful enthusiasm asked to see if they can make it at the highest level of their profession, from almost the lowest. As Joe Kines told us, the SEC is where, “They’ll slit your throats and drink your blood.” And that is true, we now know.
And that is why, when it became obvious a change would be made, I submitted in a column the name of Tommy Tuberville, the Ole Miss coach. This was done for one reason only. Of all the obvious candidates, only Tuberville had, was doing all the things, against the same SEC competition, that Arkansas desperately needed to top off a program thought to be on the rise. His Ole Miss teams looked like they’d been coached by Frank Broyles, Jimmy Johnson, et. al., in the good ole days.
Understand this: I don’t really know Tuberville. I’ve talked to him, communicated with him only three times, which has been after the three Arkansas-Ole Miss games he’s been involved in. Nothing but the game has ever been mentioned at those times. No friendship. No hero worship. Just knowledge that he was the man Arkansas needed to finish off what Danny Ford had started.
THE SITUATION: The people inside the Broyles building kept reminding writers, much-quoted players, etc., that Colonel Reb had appeared early (with an entourage supplied from Little Rock) and proved how much he wanted the job, and how about that wonderful reception? (Well-orchestrated, of course).
The coaches who should have been 1-2-3 (Tuberville, Davis, the Tulane Bowden) not only could not travel to Fayetteville, they had to tell the people back home how little interest they had in the job. Boise State is not a job you worry about. Millions are at stake in the bigger positions. Colonel Reb took no chances in visiting. The others would have.
FURIOUS: Also, my best wishes and congratulations to Houston Dale Colonel Reb, whom I’ve watched from his days as a toddler. He is not to blame because he has this very exciting, demanding job. It is to his credit, and now he needs everyone’s help. He knows that I have always been fair to the head coach and that I will be still.
I’ve covered the Arkansas football program since 1943, a long time. My readers know that, if no one else has, I have represented Arkansas fans from then until now. The program belongs to them. They need to be told when the program is being run properly, and when it is not. When people at the top mess up, I am furious.
I am furious.