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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Razorback fans have plenty to be proud of

by Wally Hall | January 20, 2022 at 3:09 a.m.


It is an old joke not heard in several years, and the one that was posted on several Facebook accounts had altered it to fit and so it was decided to "borrow" it:

Lee Corso was recently in Tuscaloosa for an Alabama football game when he noticed a "special phone" near the Bama bench. He asked head coach Nick Saban what it was used for and was told it was a "hotline to God." Lee asked if he could use it. Saban replied, "Sure, but it will cost you $200." Lee scratched his head, but thought, "What the heck, I could use some help picking games." He pulled out his wallet and paid $200. Lee's picks were spot-on that week.

The following week, Lee was in Athens when he noticed the same phone on the Bulldogs bench. He asked what the telephone was for and Kirby Smart told him, "It's a hotline to God. If you want to use it, it will cost you $500." Recalling the previous week, Lee immediately pulled out his wallet and made the call. Again, Lee's picks were perfect.

The next weekend, Lee was in Fayetteville when he noticed the same telephone by the Razorbacks' bench. He asked Sam Pittman, "Is that the hotline to God?" Sam replied, "Yes, and if you want to use it, it will cost you 50 cents." Lee looked incredulously at Sam and said, "Wait a second, I just paid $200 at Alabama and $500 at Georgia to use the same phone. Why do the Razorbacks only charge 50 cents?" Sam replied, "Because in Fayetteville, it's a local call ... Welcome to God's Country."

It was first noticed during halftime of Arkansas' win over South Carolina on Tuesday night. At the time, the Razorbacks were trailing, but it was pretty obvious head coach Eric Musselman was going to turn the heat up in the second half.

When he does that, open looks on three-pointers become contested misses and the Razorbacks opened the second half with an 18-1 run and never looked back in the 75-59 win.

Even in the midst of a dreary first half, the Razorbacks' version of first responders -- its fans -- had been loud, proud and rowdy.

Musselman has brought pride back to the basketball program, just like Sam Pittman has the football program.

Bud Walton Arena has never been as loud as Barnhill, but it wasn't designed to. Barnhill had 9,000 people stacked on top of each other to the rafters and the noise came straight down.

Walton is a palace and it is hard to believe it is over 28 years old.

No doubt it needs some updating, patching and paint, but it is a place that strikes some fear in the hearts of opponents from the time the students show up until the final buzzer.

Bud Walton was built because of Nolan Richardson's success.

At the height of his reign -- three final fours in six years -- no one wanted to play the Razorbacks at home or anywhere else.

Director of Athletics Frank Broyles decided to not update Barnhill but build a new basketball facility from the ground up.

Broyles took Bud Walton, Sam's brother and co-founder of Walmart, to lunch, and when he returned he called a staff meeting, which in those days consisted of Bill Gray.

Broyles excitedly said he had raised $15 million that day for a new arena, and now Gray needed to raise the other half.

Gray and the Razorback Foundation did, and in 1993 the Razorbacks began playing there. At the end of that season they beat Duke for the national championship.

Coined the Basketball Palace of the Midwest, the arena is named after Bud Walton and the court is named after Nolan Richardson. Frank Broyles kick started the project, but it belongs to the Razorbacks and some of the most loyal fans in the country.


Print Headline: Razorback fans have plenty to be proud of

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