The 1963 football season was coming to an end with what was to become the Hog's longest winning streak. It was a season that couldn't end a moment too soon. This blog will cover how the season ended leading to a complete turnaround in the program.
Continuing with our posting of 45-rpm songs that were played across the state during the '60s, we are adding a copy of The Big Red performed by Cecil Buffalo and the Prophets. This song was written and produced by J. Paul Scott on Sho-Boat Records.
Texas Tech 11/23/63
In what was predicted to be a SWC Championship season, the Hogs ended with a disappointing 5-5 record and no bowl bid. They had been perhaps one of the best Razorback football teams in school history, yet they ended up with the worst record in Frank Broyles’s coaching tenure since his first season losses in 1958. Among the things that led to their final record was a lack of leadership provided by a clear starter being named at quarterback. Along with Freddie Marshall, the lack of consistency at the quarterback position was only aggravated by the use of quarterbacks Bill Gray, and Jon Brittenum. In 1964, Gray would be moved to defensive back, and Brittenum would return as the starting quarterback for the 1965 and 1966 seasons.
Compounding the situation with the quarterbacks, would be a NCAA rule regarding player substitution and one platoon participation (players required to play both offense and defense – established in 1954). Typically, players at Arkansas could play one position very well, but it was asking a lot for them to learn two positions (offense and defense, both). Oftentimes, this would lead to timeouts or delay of game penalties in order to get the right personnel on the field as possession of the ball changed hands.
These issues would all be rectified by the 1964 season.
The week before - On the plane ride back from Dallas following the SMU game played on Nov. 16, 1963 (loss 7-14), quarterback Freddie Marshall and end Jerry Lamb approached Broyles. The season had been weighing heavily on both the team and the coaching staff. This had now reached a boiling point. It was a point where, during their discussion, they mentioned that the team was embarrassed and wanted to begin scrimmaging the following Monday in preparation for their upcoming game against Texas Tech. This was something new. It was widely known that a Broyles’s team had never scrimmaged during in-season, but worked on assignments in order to keep the team fresh and injury free. Monday came and, along with it, so did the scrimmage.
Broyles realized that the team was lacking a consistent leader and he now knew that he had found one in Marshall. While on the plane ride back from Dallas, Broyles let it be known to Marshall that if he would come back for his senior year he would be given sole possession of the starting quarterback position.
On Monday preparation for the upcoming Texas Tech game began. The last game of the season was scheduled for November 23, 1963, against Texas Tech at Fayetteville. It was a time when I’m Leaving It Up To You was Billboard’s Hot 100 #1 45-rpm record, and Billboard’s top LP was (Blowing) In The Wind by Peter, Paul, and Mary. The Beverly Hillbillies, Bonanza, and The Dick Van Dyke Show were the top three shows on TV that season. Times were good, and the team was preparing like they had never prepared before, they were scrimmaging during in-season. All focus was being placed on winning the last game of the season. This would be their bowl game and they needed it to propel them strongly into the next season.
The ‘60s had escorted in a change to the nation. It was no longer a Father Knows Best or Leave It To Beaver place to live. Times can change in an instant, and on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. A popular president now laid dead.
A gloom had settled over Fayetteville, just as it had for the rest of the country. Due to what had just happened, all SWC games for the next day were cancelled: except the one to be played in Razorback Stadium. Despite the student protests against the game, Coach J.T. King had already brought his Texas Tech team with All American halfback Donny Anderson and receiver Dave Parks to Fayetteville for a match up with the Hogs. They played a pro-I with two receivers which was an adaptation of the USC offense used by Southern Cal the year before to win the 1962 National Championship. It may have worked for USC, but it did not work for the Red Raiders of Tech.
A cold front had come through the night before with game time temperatures in the mid 30s to low 40s, and a wind around 10 mph. Influenced by the events that happened the previous day, the game was played without the normal emotions associated with a Razorback football game. Regardless, the Hogs were able to secure a 27-20 win. The win against Tech, despite the controversial setting, was the first win in what would turn out to be the longest winning streak in college football to occur during the 1960s. This was the end of the 1963 season, and the beginning of the famous 22 Straight.
After the season Broyles announced to the team that Freddie Marshall would be the starting QB for the entire 1964 season. Although injury would prevent him from being the only quarterback used that year, he would provide the leadership necessary to continue the streak and follow the path all the way to the Hogs first football National Championship. It was a season and championship that was 80 years in the making.
The second key factor in the upcoming Hog success was when the 1964 seniors approached Broyles and let it be known that they were committed to correcting the mistakes encountered during the 1963 season. 1964 would not be a repeat of ’63. With no post-season bowl game came a pledge, by the seniors-to-be, to start practicing for the 1964 season as soon as they returned from Christmas break. Their commitment expanded to the whole team as they returned in the fall in top physical condition for the upcoming ’64 season. The story doesn’t end here, the Hogs are now ready and there’s plenty more to come.
performed by Cecil Buffalo and the Prophets