friends about us, so they can also take part. Thanks for your support. Be sure and Like us on Facebook
It was 1977, Frank Broyles had just vacated his head coaching position and moved on to become Athletic Director. For many fans Broyles was the only coach of the Hogs they had ever known, and concern had risen as to what would happen next. Under Broyles, the Razorbacks had flourished as a national contender year in and year out. The legendary former coach would now have to find a replacement.
It would come in the form of a skinny, onetime linebacker from Kent State who had just left college coaching for a one year stint in the pros with the New York Jets. After being with the pros for one year, he found that his true love was to be found in the college ranks.
Louis Leo "Lou" Holtz began his college coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1960, and ended up at North Carolina State just prior to his time in the NFL. Coming to Arkansas, he found himself with an immense amount of talent that was primed for a great season. Broyles had left the program in a remarkable state with an abundance of talent.
Names like Dan Hampton, Robert Farrell, Ron Calcagni, Donny Bobo, Steve Little, Gary Stiggers, Bobby Duckworth, Ben Cowins, Michael Forrest, Jerry Eckwood (red-shirted due to injury in 1977, but he would be back, too), Leotis Harris, Brad Shoup, Vaugn Lusby, Patrick Martin, and the list goes on and on of the players that could be found in the Razorback camp during the '77 season. It was a season where the Hogs would go 11 – 1 with their only loss being at the hands of an Earl Campbell led Texas Longhorn team that won in Fayetteville by a score of 13 – 9. Once again, it was Texas. It seemed that everyone knew Campbell would carry the ball on what seemed to be every play, but he still couldn't be stopped. He was that good and dominating. Texas would have claimed yet another National Championship if they had played their normal game and not had a loss to No. 5 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl (score 38 –10).
The Hogs went on to play a No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners team in the 1978 Orange Bowl to end the season. This turned out to be one of the Razorback's most famous bowl games. When it was announced that Arkansas was chosen for the Orange Bowl, the field was plummeted with oranges. Typical of Holtz's dry humor, his comment was “I’m glad we didn’t get selected for the Gator Bowl.”
Controversy prior to the game, however led to a disciplinary suspension of Donny Bobo, Michael Forrest, and Ben Cowins (what a powerful offensive group) for the bowl game. For what was already an underdog team prior to the suspension, hopes of beating Oklahoma became almost non-existent among normal thinking people. But the Hogs had Holtz, and some would say that he's not what you would call normal thinking. It had rained prior to the game, and Holtz could be found walking the field on the night before the game making notes of the areas that showed loose footing. He made sure that there would be no plays called that would be impacted by these areas.
"Steve Little was nailing field goals from long distance in the warmups. He started kicking 25 yard field goals on the right hash mark. All five cleared the net and went into the crowd. He backed up and kicked all five 35 yarders over the net. He kicked 2 of the 5 45 yarders over the net. He made all five from 55 yards and all five from 65 yards with room to spare. He moved to the left hash mark and made 4 of 5 from 65 and then didn't miss as he moved back in. The OU players were standing around and gawking." - Bill Barger (Hog fan at the game, see comment below)
Oklahoma would receive the ball and started the game by losing 11 yards on their first three plays culminated by a fumble from Sims that was quickly recovered by Jimmy Walker at the nine yard line. Moments later, Sales took it over from the one. Astonished fans on both sides wondered "What had just happened?". From here on the night went steadily downhill for the Sooners as they were completely dominated by the Hogs. Having not been shut out in 131 games going back to 1966, Oklahoma would finally score on the first-play of the final period preventing the shut out. The scoreboard would sympathetically show a final score of Arkansas 31 – Oklahoma 6. If you were an Arkansas fan, it was a game for the ages that would not soon be forgotten.
As a sidenote with 1:05 left in the game, Barnabus White would score the final touchdown after a 20-yard run originating with a handoff from a relief quarterback out of Little Rock Central High School – Houston Nutt.
Holtz would go on and coach through the '83 season while taking the Hogs to six post season bowl games. During his 7 years at Arkansas, he went 60 – 21 – 2. In 1984, he was replaced by a former outstanding defensive back from the 1964 National Championship team – Ken Hatfield.
Join us again next month as we reminisce with another tale about the Arkansas Razorback football team.