LITTLE ROCK University of Arkansas alumni, fans and officials gathered at Genesis III restaurant on Tuesday morning to kick off the third-annual Razorback Day at the Capitol.
Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema, along with Athletic Director Jeff Long and Chancellor G. David Gearhart mingled with alumni, state legislators and local supporters during the luncheon.
Bielema, Long and Gearhart all spoke during the event, thanking local alumni for representing the university.
"We tell our athletes, when you put on that Cardinal and White, you're not just representing yourself, but you're representing the school and the state," Long said to the crowd of about 300.
Gov. Mike Beebe, who received his law degree from Arkansas, also spoke at the event. In his address, Beebe stressed the importance of higher education and the need to advance opportunities in higher education for all Arkansans.
Bielema hyped the upcoming season, his first as coach of the Razorbacks. He told the story of North Little Rock High School signee Martrell Spaight, who spent the past two seasons at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College. Bielema said that in a meeting with Spaight's grandfather on an in-home recruiting visit, he felt a sense of what the Razorbacks mean to the state as a whole.
"As I left, [Spaight's grandfather] grabbed my hand and said 'Coach, it was an honor to have the head hog in my house'," Bielema said. "So at that point, I knew we had a pretty good shot at [signing Spaight]."
The day's events concluded with a pep rally in the Capitol Rotunda with appearances from the Arkansas cheerleaders and pep band. Hundreds gathered there for a playing of the fight song and to call the hogs.
At the Capitol, Bielema, Long and Gearhart were honored by the Senate, delivering short speeches to the members and taking pictures before leaving.