Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
Carroll called, Broyles didn’t listen, in 1997
Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll speaks during the second half of the NFL football NFC Championship game against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
With all the hype about Seattle’s No. 1 defense vs. Denver’s No. 1 offense, it was thought it might be Super Duper Bowl XLVIII.
Instead, it was a Stupor Bore.
Seattle’s defense led to more points, nine, than Denver’s offense, eight.
Seattle’s special teams almost equaled it after Pearcy Harvin returned the second half kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown.
The Seahawks led 15-0 before Denver got its first first down, with 10:30 left in the second quarter, and that drive ended with a 69-yard interception for touchdown return by linebacker Malcolm Smith, the MVP.
Seattle was so completely in control in the second half,it reminded this reporter of sitting in the Los Angeles Coliseum in 2005 and watching Southern Cal and Pete Carroll beat the Arkansas Razorbacks 70-17. It would have been worse but time ran out.
It was written the next week that perhaps Carroll had an axe to grind that few knew about.
Carroll, in his first year as the head coach of the New England Patriots in 1997, called then Athletic DirectorFrank Broyles about the Razorbacks opening after Danny Ford was fired.
Rumor was Carroll wasn’t happy with the way the Patriots were run and he felt would not be at New England long, and sure enough, he was fired two years later.
Broyles apparently didn’t return the call in 1997. He already had it down to Houston Nutt or Tommy Tuberville and wasn’t interested in Carroll or anyone he might be recommending.
So Carroll passed for a final touchdown with less than two minutes to play against the Hogs to set the final score. Arkansas, like Denver on Sunday, was dominated in every aspect of the game.
That game, along with Southern Cal’s 2004 national championship, was vacated because of NCAA infractions, but the memory of that game lives.
Carroll also won The Associated Press’ national championship in 2003 - it was the last split championship with LSU winning the BCS title - so he became just the third coach ever to win a college championship and a Super Bowl.
Barry Switzer (Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys) and Jimmy Johnson (Miami and Dallas Cowboys) were the first two, and like Carroll, worked for Broyles early in their career. No wonder the top award for assistant coaches is named after Broyles.
On a quick side note, with national signing day Wednesday, it has to be a plus for Arkansas that Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson played his senior season for Bret Bielema at Wisconsin.
Peyton Manning had a decent game statistically, completing 34 of 49 for 280 yards and 1 touchdown, but it was his two interceptions - one a pick six and the other, which led to a touchdown - that became the prime topic of discussion in the TV booth.
Wilson, overcoming his nerves, was 18 of 25 for 206 yards and 1 touchdown.
There were two things that favored Seattle more than anyone predicted before the game.
The Seahawks had a more balanced offense; in addition to Wilson’s passing yards they outrushed Denver 135-27.
And their defense was even better than believed.
It kept near-constant pressure on Manning, forcing the usually almost flawless quarterback into mental mistakes.
Manning did not lose the game. Not even if Seattle was reading his eyes, as the Seahawks claimed after the game.
Seattle won the game because on Sunday it was by far the best team. It is being argued today that Coach Pete Carroll is one of the best ever, his vacated season and championship at USC are long forgotten, and his roots run through Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas.
Sports, Pages 17 on 02/04/2014