My long-time colleague Jim Harris has a football game day column at Sporting Life Aransas on how the Arkansas Razorbacks came to be playing Colorado State — in Colorado — instead of Michigan.
He ruminates, as many of us oldtimers do, on how times have changed since the days of Frank Broyles.
Frank Broyles built up his squads leading into Southwest Conference play by somehow convincing the likes of Oklahoma State (then in the Big 8) and independent Tulsa to come to Arkansas every year (OSU was usually the opening game, in Little Rock, at night in front of a raucous Hog-loving audience). When Broyles determined early in his tenure that he couldn’t beat Johnny Vaught and Ole Miss, especially after his Hogs expended so much emotion battling Texas the week before, he dropped the Rebels rivalry in that post-Texas slot for the likes of lowly Wichita State, competitive independent North Texas and then-Big 8 bottom-feeder Kansas State.
Can you believe, today at least, that Broyles was able to convince Stanford, with a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback in Jim Plunkett, to play one game in Little Rock without demanding a return from the Hogs? Or that Southern Cal, then perennial among the top programs in the country, agreeing to two visits to Little Rock for just one Arkansas trip to the L.A. Coliseum?
Colorado State, Utah State, Iowa State, Air Force, Vanderbilt (as a nonconference game then), Navy, Northwestern – they weren’t getting return games in their stadiums from the Hogs. When Broyles had retired from coaching and was solely athletic director, he was still making the schedule, and what a salesman he must have been with these opposing ADs. It’s as if Frank had you over for dinner, and whether you could stomach what he was serving, you’d already have agreed you were coming back for dinner at his place the following week.
Maybe all that illustrates not only how much college athletics has changed in a generation, but how far the respect of the Arkansas athletic program has fallen. Suddenly, we have Frank’s successor in the athletic director’s chair agreeing to home-and-home series with Rutgers and Colorado State and unable to hold Michigan’s feet to the fire on an agreed-upon contract. Do you think the great John McKay would have called up Frank Broyles and said, “You know, Frank, about that game we’ve got with you in Little Rock coming up, doesn’t seem right now we have to play you twice in Little Rock, I’d like out of it …”? Just as a reminder of those good old days: Arkansas won that second Southern Cal game played in Little Rock, 22-7, and the Trojans still went on to win a version of the 1974 national champion.
But now we’re to today, where Arkansas looks like it might be in a two-year-or-more rebuild of a five-year failed rebuild, especially in the offensive line.
Jim will rehash the game at 10:30 p.m. on KTHV’s Hogzone.