HOME ~ College Football History
The 19th Century
The first actual team was formed in 1894 with John C. Futrall as manager
and coach. For the next 19 years Futrall served as chairman of the
Athletic Committee or as manager of the team and much of the time as
both. The first squad picked on Fort Smith High School twice and, as
would be expected, earned easy victories. But a first-year matchup with
Texas was not so easy. The Longhorns drilled Arkansas at Austin, 54-0,
making the train ride home that much longer.
Gradually the schedule was expanded and the 1902 squad actually finished
6-3. Still, the only coach was a volunteer from the faculty. The first
full time paid coach was Hugo Bezdek, who came aboard in 1908.
The Early Years
At that time Arkansas was called the Cardinals. The student body picked
the bird as its mascot since the school colors were cardinal
and white. Bezdek took the Cardinals to a 5-4 season in '08, but his team was shut
out by Texas and thumped by LSU in the season finale. Undoubtedly the
breakthrough season for Arkansas football was 1909. Without that
campaign the school might be celebrating merely years and not success.
Steve Creekmore was regarded as the top quarterback in the south and
perhaps all of college football after he led Arkansas to a 7-0 campaign
that included victories over LSU and Oklahoma. Arkansas scored 186
points during its seven triumphs and permitted only 18 points all year.
When the train from Baton Rouge returned to Fayetteville following the
seventh victory of the campaign, Bezdek addressed the student
population. He said his team had played "like a wild band of Razorback
Hogs." The students loved the phrase so much they voted to change the
nickname. In time for the 1910 season the "Razorbacks" were born.
Creekmore returned in '10 and led the Hogs to a 7-1 season. The Hogs
outscored their foes 221-19 and closed with a smashing 51-0 triumph over
LSU at Little Rock. Bezdek was 29-13-1 in five years but left following
the 1912 campaign. Arkansas then went through four coaches in seven
years before Francis Schmidt arrived from Nebraska in time for the 1922
season. Order was restored. The Hogs were 42-20-3 during Schmidt's seven
years at the helm.
Schmidt's best year was 1927 when George Cole, Glen Rose and Schoonover,
a sophomore, helped lead the Hogs to an 8-1 finish. After the '28
Razorbacks went 7-2 and Garland 'Bevo' Beavers was named most valuable
player in the SWC, Schmidt left to become head coach at TCU. Fred
Thomsen was the replacement and a new era was born.
The 1930s & 1940s
Thomsen was an innovator. He believed in the passing game long before it
was popular in the rest of the country. Schoonover was the star of his
first team and became an all-America. The early 30's were sluggish for
the Razorbacks until 1933 when, out of the blue, they won what should
have been their first SWC title. However, the use of an athlete who had
played at Nebraska without telling Arkansas' coaching staff caused the
Hogs to forfeit the title for using an ineligible player.
The arrival of Jack Robbins and Jim Benton in the mid-30's created an
excitement beyond any Arkansas had experienced up to that time. Robbins
could throw it and Benton could catch it. They threw and caught so
proficiently that Robbins is still the sixth leading passer in school
history and Benton ranks sixth on the UA career receiving list even
though they completed their careers in the 1937 season. Robbins
completed 53 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,582 yards and 19
touchdowns. Benton had 83 catches for 1,303 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Those totals were astonishing for their time.
In '36 the Hogs finally won their first SWC title and no one could take
it away from them. After a 2-3 start, the Razorbacks won their final
five games, including a 6-0 victory over Texas in a rain-soaked season
finale at Little Rock.
After Robbins and Benton graduated, it was nine years before the Hogs
had another winning season. Not only did Arkansas win under first-year
coach John Barnhill but the Razorbacks earned a spot in their first
Cotton Bowl in 1946.
Barnhill had coached for General Bob Neyland at Tennessee and actually
had been the Volunteers' head coach while Neyland served in World War
II. Not only did Barnhill win, he united the state behind the
Razorbacks. At his urging (actually threats to play big games elsewhere)
a new stadium was built in Little Rock. Barnhill also was responsible
for recruiting Smackover native Clyde Scott to Arkansas. Scott's
incredible abilities fascinated Razorback fans. He was all-America in
1948, the same year he earned a silver medal at the Olympic games.
It was too much for Barnhill to rally the state, administrate the
department and coach the football team, so he turned the coaching reigns
over to Otis Douglas in 1950. His three-year tenure was among the most
puzzling in school history.
Blessed with future NFL stars Fred Williams, Dave 'Hawg' Hanner, Pat
Summerall, Lamar McHan, Floyd Sagely and Lewis Carpenter, the Razorbacks
won only nine games in three years. There was one unforgettable
highlight, though. Summerall's field goal just before halftime proved
critical as Arkansas upset fourth ranked Texas, 16-14. It was the first
time the Hogs ever had defeated the Longhorns at Fayetteville.
Bowden Wyatt replaced Douglas before the 1953 season. In his second and
final year he led the tough, rawboned '25 Little Pigs' to eight
victories and the host spot in the Cotton Bowl. It was regarded by many
as one of the greatest coaching jobs of all time.
It was a fabulous year, and overflow crowds at Little Rock and
Fayetteville responded to their team's success. Arkansas defeated Texas
at Austin for the first time in 17 years and earned national respect
with a stunning 6-0 upset of Ole Miss at Little Rock. Preston Carpenter
scored the game's only touchdown on a 66-yard reception from Buddy Bob
Benson on the famed 'Powder River Play.' The play became one of the
most, if not the most, famous single play in school history. Wyatt left
to become head coach at Tennessee, his alma mater, following the Cotton
Bowl, and was replaced by Jack Mitchell. All three of Mitchell's teams
won but never more than six times. When Mitchell left to become head
coach at Kansas, Arkansas made a move that proved historic.
The Broyles Era Begins
When he was an assistant coach at Baylor, Frank Broyles became enamored
with Arkansas. He could only imagine what could be done in a one-school
state. He lobbied for the Razorback job when Mitchell was hired but was
told by Barnhill he had to have head coaching experience first.
When the head coaching position became vacant following the 1957 season,
Broyles had the experience Barnhill wanted, but barely. He had coached
Missouri for one year but never hesitated when Barnhill called him. In
fact, he wondered what had taken the Arkansas athletic director so long.
For 19 years Broyles patrolled the sidelines as Arkansas' head football
coach. His Razorback career didn't start as if it would last, though. In
1958 the Hogs lost their first six games and Broyles and his staff
wondered if the job had as much potential as they had thought. The
turnaround came at Texas A&M, where Arkansas won 21-8. The Hogs won the
next three, too, gaining momentum for the future.
The future came quickly. In 1959 Arkansas tied for the SWC title and
finished 9-2 after ending Georgia Tech's six-game winning streak in
bowls with a 14-7 triumph over the Yellow Jackets at the Gator Bowl.
Halfback Jim Mooty became an all-America, and sophomore Lance Alworth
emerged as perhaps the most exciting Razorback ever.
Alworth led the nation in punt returns in 1960 and '61 and the
Razorbacks won the league title his junior year and shared it when he
was a senior. Suddenly the Razorbacks were on the national map.
Billy Moore, a fabulous defensive back who also was an outstanding
option quarterback, starred on both sides of the line in 1962 as the
Razorbacks completed a 9-1 regular season. Ole Miss edged the Hogs in
the Sugar Bowl.
Razorback fans had quickly grown accustomed to success and weren't
expecting the 5-5 campaign of 1963. Neither were Broyles and his
players. Little did anyone know the 27-20 victory over Texas Tech in the
season finale would launch the longest winning streak in school history.
After struggling to victories over Oklahoma State and Tulsa in the first
two games of the 1964 season, Arkansas was invincible the rest of the
year. An 81-yard punt return for a touchdown by Ken Hatfield gave the
Hogs the impetus for a 14-13 victory over defending national champion
Texas at Austin. That was the fifth game of the season. Texas was the
last regular season opponent to score against the Razorbacks.
After those five closing shutouts Arkansas was ranked second nationally
and prepared to play Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl. The Huskers broke the
Hogs' shutout string, but a fourth quarter touchdown by Bobby Burnett
capped an 80-yard drive and allowed the Razorbacks to earn a 10-7
At that time the Associated Press and United Press International
national championships were awarded before the bowl games. Alabama
finished 10-0 and earned both titles. But Texas trimmed the Crimson Tide
in the Orange Bowl and Arkansas' 11-0 mark was the only perfect record
in college football. The Football Writers of America had a long standing
policy of waiting until after the bowl games to determine a national
champ. Their award went to the Razorbacks. By today's voting standards
Arkansas would have been the runaway winner in every poll.
While the '64 national title was the only one earned during the Broyles
era, the Razorbacks came excruciatingly close in 1965 and 1969. The '65
Hogs had a 10-0 regular season that pushed their winning streak to 22
games. Included was an incredible victory over Texas at Fayetteville.
The Razorbacks roared to a 20-0 lead, fell behind, 24-20, then scored
late in the contest for a 27-24 triumph.
Again the Hogs went into the Cotton Bowl ranked number two nationally.
This time, though, AP would wait until Jan. 2 to announce its national
champion. The results in '64 had a direct bearing on the change in
policy. Sure enough, number one lost again. Michigan State fell to UCLA
at the Cotton Bowl. This time, however, the Hogs couldn't take
advantage. Quarterback Jon Brittenum suffered a separated shoulder in
the first half and played but was not as effective in the second half as
LSU held on to stun Arkansas, 14-7.
As sophomores, Bill Montgomery and Chuck Dicus kept the glory years
alive at Arkansas in 1968. The Razorbacks finished 10-1 and Dicus was
the most valuable player in the Sugar Bowl as Arkansas upset undefeated
SEC champion Georgia, 16-2.
The '69 Hogs were as tough on defense as they were explosive on offense
and they buried their first nine opponents. The closest call was a 28-15
victory over SMU at Dallas. ABC-TV, sensing that Arkansas and Texas
could be the top two teams in the country, had asked the schools to move
their shootout to Dec. 6 and the Hogs and Horns agreed.
Ohio State had been ranked number one all season long and Sports
Illustrated even suggested the Buckeyes might be the best team of all
time. But Michigan upset Ohio State on the last weekend in November and
suddenly ABC had its one-two shootout. Texas was ranked number one and
Arkansas number two. Both were 9-0.
On a cloudy, cold day at Razorback Stadium, Arkansas suffered its all
time heartbreak. In fact, it's a defeat that still saddens those who
were alive at the time. The Hogs blunted the Texas wishbone for three
quarters and had a 14-0 lead with 15 minutes to play. However, two
improbable long distance plays and a two-point conversion allowed Texas
to earn a 15-14 triumph. Even Longhorn coach Darrell Royal admitted the
Razorbacks thoroughly outplayed his team except for the two plays. Texas
won the national title that could have belonged to Arkansas.
The Early 1970s
The Razorbacks won nine games again in 1970 and eight in 1971 behind the
rifle arm of Joe Ferguson but then suffered through a three-year
recession. In 1975 the Hogs returned to the top.
Scott Bull became the starting quarterback in midseason and led Arkansas
to one of its greatest triumphs. In another change made for television,
Arkansas and second ranked Texas A&M, 10-0 at the time, met at Little
Rock on Dec. 6 with a spot in the Cotton Bowl on the line. It was
scoreless until nearly halftime when Teddy Barnes made an incredible
catch of a Bull pass deep in the end zone for a 7-0 Hog lead. The second
half was an avalanche as Arkansas earned a 31-6 victory. Momentum
carried all the way to the Cotton Bowl where Arkansas thumped Georgia,
The Holtz Years
Broyles announced his retirement as coach following the 1976 season and
handpicked Lou Holtz as his successor. The next three seasons proved
Arkansas was picked no higher than fifth in the SWC in any of the 1977
pre-season polls, but no one had counted on the magic of Holtz. With Ron
Calcagni at quarterback and Ben Cowins running for over 1,000 yards, the
Razorback offense averaged 33 points a game. Tackles Dan Hampton and
Jimmy Walker led a stingy defense that permitted less than nine points
The Razorbacks finished 10-1 but were second in the SWC. So, they earned
a first-ever spot in the Orange Bowl opposite number two Oklahoma.
Earlier in the day top ranked Texas was defeated by Notre Dame in the
Cotton Bowl, so the entire Orange Bowl focus was on the Sooners' chance
to win the national championship. Most figured it was a foregone
conclusion since Holtz had suspended his top two running backs and
leading receiver for disciplinary reasons. Holtz became a national hero
when the suspensions didn't matter and the Razorbacks stunned the
Sooners, 31-6. Sophomore Roland Sales shocked OU by gaining 205 yards,
an Orange Bowl record, mostly between the tackles. It ranks among the
most memorable, if not the most memorable, triumph in Razorback history.
Sports Illustrated ranked Arkansas number one before the 1978 season but
the Hogs suffered two midseason defeats and finished 9-2-1. Holtz had
his best recruiting year before 1979, and a brilliant cast of newcomers
that included Gary Anderson and Billy Ray Smith, among others bonded
with an outstanding senior class. The Razorbacks shared the SWC title,
won 10 games and drew an invitation to play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Alabama trimmed the Hogs and earned a national championship. The
Razorbacks didn't recover from that defeat until 1981 when they scored
their most lopsided triumph ever over Texas. The Longhorns were ranked
first nationally while Arkansas was 4-1 after suffering a stunning
defeat at TCU. Smith recovered a fumble on the game's first play and
Anderson scored soon after that. The steamroller was started, and didn't
end until Arkansas completed a 42-11 route. Razorback fans tore down the
goalposts for the first time since the '51 triumph over the 'Horns.
Holtz thought his 1982 team would finally take him to the Cotton Bowl
but it didn't happen. A tie with SMU on a controversial pass
interference call dashed Arkansas' hopes. Anderson, Smith, Jessie Clark,
Steve Korte and the rest of the seniors concluded their careers with a
victory over Florida in the Bluebonnet Bowl.
The Hatfield 80s
Following the 1983 season Holtz departed and a Razorback hero from the
1960's, Ken Hatfield, returned as head coach. When his first team won
four games in the fourth quarter and surprised with seven victories,
interest in the program was rekindled. In '85 the Hogs went 10-2 and
edged Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl. In 1986 Hatfield directed the
Razorbacks to their first victory over Texas at Austin in 20 years and a
14-10 triumph over Texas A& M led to an Orange Bowl invitation.
The '87 Razorbacks were SWC favorites but a last-play defeat against
Texas at Little Rock led to an empty finish. The Hogs won nine games but
ended the campaign with a disappointing Liberty Bowl loss to Georgia. It
has been 13 years since Arkansas has been to the Cotton Bowl when
Hatfield took the Razorbacks back. Utilizing the option skills of
quarterback Quinn Grovey and the punishing running of James Rouse and
Barry Foster and a stingy defense led by Wayne Martin and Steve Atwater,
Arkansas opened 10-0 and had Miami on the ropes before suffering an
18-16 defeat at Miami in the regular season finale. Troy Aikman led UCLA
past the Hogs in the Cotton Bowl.
Grovey out dueled Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware in the greatest
shootout of the 1989 season, and a 45-39 victory over Houston at Little
Rock not only was the most talked about game in recent years, it also
catapulted the Hogs into position to return to the Cotton Bowl. A late
season triumph at Texas A&M secured the host spot.
In Hatfield's final game, Arkansas set all kinds of Cotton Bowl
offensive records but turned the ball over inside the Tennessee 10
yardline three times in falling to the Volunteers, 31-27.
In August of 1990 Arkansas launched a geographic revolution in college
football when it left the Southwest Conference for the Southeastern
Confer-ence. The Razorbacks became the first addition to the SEC since
the league was founded in 1933.
The SEC Years
Oddly, the Hogs' first major victory as an SEC member came against
Tennessee, the same school that defeated Arkansas in its final Cotton
Bowl appearance as SWC champ. In 1992 the Razorbacks stunned the
unbeaten and fourth ranked Volunteers, 25-24, at Knoxville on a Todd
Wright field goal in the final seconds.
In 1992 the Razorbacks also defeated South Carolina, the league's other
newcomer, and LSU. The victory over LSU was the first for Arkansas since
1929. The Hogs downed the Tigers again in 1993 and also won at Georgia
and at home against South Carolina, ranked 20th at the time.
Arkansas' first significant accomplishments as an SEC member came in
1995. Madre Hill scored six touchdowns in a victory over South Carolina
and the following week Barry Lunney hit J. J. Meadors with a fourth down
pass with six seconds left to lift the Hogs past Alabama at Tuscaloosa.
An exhilarating 30-28 triumph over Auburn at Little Rock, followed by a
victory over Mississippi State, handed the Razorbacks their first ever
championship in the SEC, a Western Division title.
The Hogs weren't able to upset Florida in the SEC championship game but
an eight-victory season capped by a spot in the Carquest Bowl allowed
Arkansas to look forward to a promising future...(ends in 1996)