Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
QB's truck destroyed by flames
Police investigating possibility of arson
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen throws during a practice Thursday, April 11, 2014 in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen's first game week of 2014 began with an early morning emergency and a truck destroyed by fire.
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Fayetteville Police Sgt. Craig Stout said firefighters and police worked two vehicle fires in the overnight hours early Monday, including one at the house Allen shares with former teammates on West Hendrix Street.
"At the moment, we are treating it as arson," Stout said late Monday morning. "It's currently under investigation."
The Chevrolet Avalanche driven by Allen that was involved in the fire is registered to Bobby Allen, the player's father, a 15-year assistant coach for the Razorbacks and now the program's director of high school and NFL relations.
Stout said the call came in at 3:59 a.m. for Fayetteville police to assist the fire department at the scene on West Hendrix. Another vehicle fire closer to the UA campus was reported at 1:34 a.m.
"We're looking to see if there's any relation between the fires," Stout said.
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema said he got a call from his quarterback at 4:16 a.m.
"Your breath kind of stops for a moment," Bielema said. "I saw it was B.A. calling me. I was hoping it was my alarm, but that was about a half hour before I was planning to get up."
Bielema said he has made Brandon Allen and his brother, freshman quarterback Austin Allen, unavailable for interviews this week with the Razorbacks preparing for their season opener on Saturday at No. 6 Auburn.
"They started a formal investigation and we don't know a lot of details right now, just that B.A. is completely safe," Bielema said. "We're going to say mum's the word on that one moving forward."
Bielema said Allen took the incident in stride.
"It wasn't a guy who was like, 'Aaahhh! My car is on fire!,' " Bielema said. "It was just kind of status quo, ho hum for him. Which to me is probably not a big surprise to those of us who really know him."
Allen's truck, which was removed to a police lot, has been in the news before. Last season, Allen returned to Fayetteville after a 24-17 loss to Mississippi State in Little Rock on Nov. 23, to find the vehicle had been pelted with eggs. This summer, Allen loaded up as many as nine of his heaviest teammates and drove them to the bottom of the long hill on Cleveland Street for walks up the notorious incline.
Sports on 08/26/2014