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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Veteran may soon return to tell Holtz tales

by Wally Hall | July 10, 2022 at 2:25 a.m.

Last week, Nate Allen's wife Nancy took him home.

Nate has been battling cancer at UAMS and after long weeks was cleared to go back to Northwest Arkansas.

Nate is currently the longest running print reporter on the Arkansas Razorbacks beat and the man has no enemies, just friends and admirers.

On Saturday, I thought of Nate when on Facebook there was a post about someone asking Lou Holtz what was the difference in football players today and 50 years ago.

He answered: "Simple, today's athletes talk about rights and privileges. And the players 50 years ago talked about obligations and responsibilities."

Like Nate's, my career started with Frank Broyles and transitioned to Holtz, who was funny if you didn't cover him every day.

Holtz had success at North Carolina State, going 33-12-3 in four seasons, but came to Arkansas after resigning as coach of the the New York Jets before the end of the 1976 season.

Holtz was a football genius with a hair trigger temper.

We had a roller coaster relationship. We once sued each other (he won, of course), but it is hard to believe it has been 40 years since he was in Fayetteville, which he said was not the end of the earth but you could see it from there.

Harder to believe he's 85.

It was initially said that Holtz was leaving the Razorbacks, where he was 60-21-2, because he was tired and burned out after a 6-5 season.

Apparently, Holtz rejuvenated quickly.

A few days after he left Arkansas, he took the head coaching job at Minnesota.

Years later, Broyles would admit he fired Holtz because he was losing the support of the fans.

Holtz admitted he was fired but said he was never given a reason.

Neither mentioned the commercial endorsements Holtz had done for North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, who led the campaign to block legislation to that would have made Martin Luther King Day a national holiday.

Holtz never showed any personal biases. He was an equal opportunity screamer if you messed up, but he was a lifetime Republican like Helms.

Of course, Holtz etched a place in permanent archives of Arkansas when he took the Razorbacks to the 1978 Orange Bowl to play Oklahoma.

Days before the game, Holtz suspended several key starters and the betting outlets made the Sooners 18-point favorites.

It was expected the game could result in the Sooners' third national championship, especially after No. 1 Texas lost to No. 5 Notre Dame earlier that day in the Cotton Bowl.

However, a few days before the team left for Miami, one of Holtz's assistants picked up on something the Sooners' offensive line was doing that tipped off the play they were running.

Holtz asked Broyles if his No. 6-ranked team could win the national championship if they beat No. 2 Oklahoma.

Which they did soundly 31-6 as Roland Sales, a backup running back, ran for 205 yards, and the Razorbacks held the Sooners to 310 yards of total offense.

Texas had beaten Arkansas and Oklahoma on successive weekends earlier in the season, and Notre Dame was voted the national champion.

Holtz was only at Minnesota two years before getting his dream job as head coach of Notre Dame, where he coached for 11 years, won a national championship and eventually got tired and burned out again and was out the door.

He landed at South Carolina for six years. He finished with a career record of 249-122.

Holtz finished his career as a very candid analyst, first for CBS and then ESPN.

No doubt Nate Allen has thousands of stories about Razorback football the past 50 years, and he may soon be telling them again.

Print Headline: Veteran may soon return to tell Holtz tales


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