Almost 50 years later, Bill Montgomery still has regrets about Frank Broyles' decision not to kick a field goal in the Big Shootout.
The Big Shootout, which featured No. 2 Arkansas against No. 1 Texas at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville on Dec. 6, 1969, is remembered as one of the greatest college football games ever. President Richard Nixon was in attendance in Fayetteville.
Texas beat Arkansas 15-14 and went on to win the national championship.
The University of Arkansas had a 14-8 lead in the fourth quarter and had drove to the Texas 7, but Montgomery was intercepted by Danny Lester in the end zone on third down.
Montgomery felt that Broyles should have called a running play on third down, then go for a field goal that would have put the Razorbacks up 17-8 and made it a two-possession game.
"Our defense was flawless," Montgomery said to the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday at the DoubleTree Hotel. "We were going to win the game if we went for the field goal. I think that's why [Broyles] never watched the game film. He would have gone, 'Why didn't we kick?' "
"We went 73 yards and got nothing."
Texas then took a 15-14 lead on Jim Bertelsen's touchdown run and Happy Feller's extra point.
Montgomery said that Broyles was open to watching the film of the game, but Montgomery and other former players couldn't get the meeting to happen before Broyles died in 2017 at 92.
Monday's Touchdown Club meeting was Montgomery's first public speech about the Big Shootout. He said that he wanted to speak about the game since the 50th anniversary is this year.
"I was hoping we could clear the air a little bit about this game," Montgomery said. "We were lucky to be there. The whole state of Arkansas was lucky to have that game. I wanted to make sure Arkansas people look back and say that was a hell of a game."
Montgomery's 29-yard touchdown pass to Chuck Dicus made it 14-0 Arkansas in the third quarter.
"We were feeling pretty good," Montgomery said. "We felt good at 14-0."
But it wasn't enough to down the Longhorns, although Montgomery said the Razorbacks were ready for their opponent.
"It was a very well-prepared team," Montgomery said. "That whole week was pretty chaotic. We got through Wednesday and then Thursday came around. It started to get a little crazy. We were prepared. It [the loss] didn't have anything to do with not being ready."
In three seasons as Arkansas' starting quarterback, Montgomery compiled a 28-5 record.
But the 1969 game against Texas is the game that most fans want to talk about with him, even though Montgomery pointed out how little the Texas game would have meant had Ohio State remained undefeated, but Ohio State was upset by Michigan.
"[Then-Arkansas athletic director and former coach] John Barnhill said if Ohio State had won, Arkansas and Texas would be playing for the championship of Washington County," Montgomery said. "I can promise you that Richard Nixon wouldn't have been there if it was for the championship of Washington County."
On the ABC telecast in 1969, Nixon was complimentary toward Montgomery.
"They have a fine passer," Nixon said of Arkansas. "I don't think I've seen a cooler passer than Montgomery."
The Big Shootout still resonates with Arkansas and Texas fans as well as many longtime college football fans. It's a game that Montgomery won't forget.
"What it felt like for the fans and what it felt like for us, it felt like you went to the store for 15 minutes, then when you got back, your house was burglarized," Montgomery said. "It was gut-wrenching."
Sports on 10/15/2019
Print Headline: Montgomery: Wish '69 FG was set up