FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks fans do more than celebrate a glorious past this weekend at Reynolds Razorback Stadium and Walton Arena.
From that past, they should realize their bleak football present and new basketball regime unknown can build toward ascending heights celebrated this weekend.
History shows it can happen.
At football banquets Friday night, the 1969 "Shootout" Razorbacks coached by the late Frank Broyles, and the 1989 Southwest Conference champion Razorbacks of Coach Ken Hatfield, with Hatfield's 1988 SWC champions also honored, celebrated the 50th and and 30th and 31st anniversaries of their epic campaigns.
During today's Arkansas vs. Auburn SEC football game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Darren McFadden, the 2005-2007 running back for Houston Nutt's Razorbacks with two Doak Walker Awards as the nation's outstanding running back and two-times Heisman Trophy runner-up, will be honored for his upcoming induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Sunday before new Coach Eric Musselman's Razorbacks debut in a 3 p.m. exhibition game against the University of Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans, the Walton Arena basketball floor will be unveiled as Nolan Richardson Court. Sunday's unveiling honors the Razorbacks' 1985-2002 coach, winning more Arkansas games, 389, than any basketball coach, and is Arkansas' only basketball coach winning a national championship plus a national runner-up.
Giddy Arkansas times, those. But none born from euphoria.
The seniors on that 9-2 1969 team, 9-0 before losing 15-14 as nationally-ranked No. 2 to No. 1 Texas in the epic shootout transfixing the nation and enticing President Richard Nixon to Fayetteville, were sophomores on a 1967 team floundered 4-5-1. The 1968 Hogs rebounded to 10-1 with a SWC co-championship and Sugar Bowl success over Georgia.
Hatfield's 1988 and '89 10-2, 10-2 SWC champions were forged from likely the most chaotic 9-win season in Arkansas history. Hatfield's 1987 Hogs went 9-4 but the season soured. Athletic Director Broyles and Hatfield were decidedly at odds. Especially with Arkansas routed by Miami and losing a Texas game it appeared to have won until the final seconds.
McFadden was great from the get go, 176 carries for 1,113 yards and 11 touchdowns as a 2005 freshman. But his team only went 4-7.
With McFadden winning his Doak Walkers, they were 10-4 SEC West champions in 2006 and beat eventual national champion LSU during an 8-5 2007.
Nolan Richardson is celebrated now as both a College Basketball Hall of Famer and Naismith Hall of Famer. But nobody celebrated his 12-16 start succeeding Hall of Fame Coach Eddie Sutton. Many still ripped Richardson because his 19-14 second-year improved Hogs were in the NIT instead of following Sutton's nine-consecutive NCAA Tournaments.
By year four, Nolan's Hogs were SWC champions.
All the above success stories were born from pain. While recent football times, including these Hogs starting 2-4, prove particularly painful, this weekend's celebrations underscores that Arkansas has the resources, fan base and history to rise again.
Sports on 10/19/2019
Print Headline: Arkansas' sports history honored this weekend