Today's Paper Arkansas News LEARNS Guide Legislature Sports Core Values Puzzles Newsletters Public Notices Archive Obits Opinion Story Ideas

Little Rock trip not first for Barker

by Jeremy Muck | October 6, 2015 at 3:11 a.m.
Former University of Alabama quarterback Jay Barker is shown in this file photo.

When Arkansas played its first SEC game inside the state , Jay Barker was the opposing quarterback.

Barker was the starting quarterback for Alabama in 1992, when the Crimson Tide beat the Razorbacks 38-11 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

During his speech at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday afternoon at the Embassy Suites in Little Rock, Barker recalled seeing at the game then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, who was in the middle of his presidential campaign in 1992 as he ran against President George H. Bush. Clinton wanted to talk to the Crimson Tide players after the game and was surrounded by Secret Service members, but Alabama Coach Gene Stallings wouldn't let him in the locker room.

"He's a huge Bush guy," Barker said of Stallings.

Barker helped lead the Crimson Tide to its first national championship since 1979 less than four months later, upsetting No. 1 Miami 34-13 in the Sugar Bowl. In three seasons as Alabama's starter, Barker was 35-2-1 on the field. (Alabama was later forced to forfeit games during the 1993 season because of NCAA violations, dropping the Crimson Tide's official record during Barker's career to 27-11.)

Clinton defeated Bush in the 1992 election and was in the White House in the spring of 1993 when Alabama's football team paid a visit. However, Clinton was a half-hour late to the ceremony and Stallings was not happy, Barker said.

"He said, 'Where have you been?' " Barker said, recalling Stallings' conversation with Clinton. "Clinton said, 'Solving the world's problems.' "

Playing for Stallings was a special thing for Barker, 43, who grew up in Trussville, Ala., rooting for the Crimson Tide. Barker said he wanted to play for Paul "Bear" Bryant, but Bryant died in 1983 of a heart attack, but Stallings was the next best thing, he said.

"We had a father-son relationship," Barker said. "We had a lot of respect for each other. He was so hard on me, but in a good way."

Arkansas' 24-20 victory at Tennessee could be a confidence-builder for Coach Bret Bielema and the Razorbacks, Barker said, going into their game Saturday night at Alabama.

"I'm sure Coach Bielema is like, 'We did it there [Tennessee], we can do it in Tuscaloosa,' " Barker said. "They'll try to build off of it as much as they can.

"Any time you play an SEC game, you have to execute at a high level. But over time, if Alabama plays mistake-free, they have more athletes than Arkansas has. Over time, they'll win in the fourth quarter and will wear you down."

Barker said he is also a fan of Arkansas senior quarterback Brandon Allen, who has been criticized by some fans during his career at the school.

"You need to love him," Barker said. "I think he's an outstanding quarterback. Even if a mistake happens, he's not the guy who blames other people. He owns it."

Two decades after playing in the SEC, Barker said he's glad he isn't playing now, considering the 24-7 news cycle and social media platforms.

"They're playing in the toughest era of scrutiny, criticism and negative stuff going on," Barker said.

Other highlights from Barker's speech to the Touchdown Club:

• On his marriage to country music singer Sara Evans: "As good as I've ever recruited in my life."

• On what his band's name would be, in regards to joining Evans on the touring circuit: "Lost Dog. My poster would be all over the city, all over the state. It would be free promotion."

• On being a sports talk radio host (Barker hosts a morning talk show with former Auburn and NFL kicker Al Del Greco on WJOX-AM in Birmingham, Ala.): "The hits are still there. They're just mental and emotional hits."

Sports on 10/06/2015

Print Headline: Little Rock trip not first for Barker


Sponsor Content