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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Hogs deserve to be remembered for first 61

by Wally Hall | June 15, 2021 at 2:10 a.m.

Arkansas is not snakebit.

There were no black cats. No one walked under a ladder.

The Arkansas Razorbacks have had a few disappointing losses over the years, but probably no more than any other program.

Last weekend's two losses to North Carolina State will linger for a while. It will sting, but hopefully in time the fans will realize it was a great season. The University of Arkansas was No. 1 for most of a 50-win season.

Making the College World Series and becoming the OmaHogs seemed destined until the final out because this team always found a way to win.

Until it didn't.

The Razorbacks outscored the Wolfpack 28-11 in the three games, but that 21-2 opening game gave everyone unrealistic expectations about the series.

Which is something the Hogs hadn't lost all season.

Yet, going into the series everyone knew N.C. State was a great offensive team. Although the Razorbacks led the nation in home runs, the Wolfpack were ranked No. 10 in home runs.

Of their 11 total runs last weekend, 10 came via home runs.

Both teams had six home runs, but the UA had three in the first game and N.C. State had three in the second game, when Arkansas had two. In the finale, the Wolfpack held a 2-1 edge.

What made this one burn a little deeper was the fresh memory of the 2018 Foul Ball Folly that allowed Oregon State to rally and beat Arkansas for the national championship.

There have been heartbreaking losses in basketball and even more in football, where the passion runs through the veins of countless fans.

For decades, and even a little today, the 1969 football loss to Texas cut deep.

That one was different and most likely will remain the biggest disappointment in Arkansas sports history. Texas went on to win the national championship instead of the UA.

Other losses to Texas, Tennessee and most recently the Sugar Bowl loss to Ohio State will always live in the shadows of that loss.

Just two years ago, the starting quarterback for that 1969 team, Bill Montgomery, spoke to the Little Rock Touchdown Club about that game. He asked to be allowed to talk.

After almost 50 years, he summed it up with Arkansas should have let All-American kicker Bill McClard kick a field goal with less than a minute to go.

Arkansas went for it, and Tom Campbell intercepted Montgomery.

In that moment, the body of work was forgotten. The nine wins that included three shutouts -- the most points the Hogs gave up in the regular season was 15 -- were forgotten.

A few weeks later, the Razorbacks fell to Ole Miss and Archie "Who?" Manning in the Sugar Bowl.

Those final two losses erased what should have been a memory of a really good season. Who wouldn't like to win nine games in one football season today?

It would be a shame to remember this baseball season for the final two games instead of the 50 wins.

What should remain etched in the mind was the heart-wrenching sobbing of pitcher Kevin Kopps after the game, the same kid who sucked it up and signed autographs for the kids for more than an hour after that game.

The Razorbacks' bats began to tire during the last two weekends of the season. In the regional and super regional, the Hogs were not as hot as they had been all season -- except for one game when they could do nothing wrong.

No one was more heartbroken than Coach Dave Van Horn and those kids, who worked long and hard to be the best team in the country. For all but two games, they were.

For that, they should be remembered for the first 61 games and not the final two.


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