Cheyne tapped, trumpeted Hogs lore

By: Nate Allen
Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Bob Cheyne photographed in 2010.
Photo by Cyd King
Bob Cheyne photographed in 2010.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Bob Cheyne never missed a chance to promote and chronicle the Arkansas Razorbacks.

And he was never at a loss for words.

Those attributes turned many a banquet emceed by Cheyne into a long evening's journey approaching midnight.

It didn't matter. When Cheyne talked, everyone was entertained and learned something about the Razorbacks that even the most avid Arkie didn't know.

The University of Arkansas' first sports information director was as eager to acquire information as he was to impart it, and there wasn't much that Cheyne didn't know about he Razorbacks.

Cheyne had retired from SID work before my arrival at Arkansas in 1973, but calling him retired from the Razorbacks is like calling crabgrass gone from your lawn. He would be back. Persistently. Unlike crabgrass, he was invited. Numerous Razorbacks reunions, from the many generations now mourning his passing at 86, welcomed him as the old friend he was.

Cheyne's Arkansas tenure (1948-1970) encompassed the Single Wing and the Big Shootout, and he worked with some of the greatest Razorbacks coaches and administrators: John Barnhill, Bowden Wyatt, Frank Broyles, George Cole, Wilson Matthews and Glen Rose. He also worked with Arkansas sports writing and sportscasting icons: Orville Henry, Jim Bailey, Bud Campbell and Wallie Ingalls. He knew about an era of Arkansas football that even preceded the reach of those Arkansas legends, that count only Broyles and Bailey among the living.

"He knew guys that played on the first football team in 1894," former Arkansas sports information director Rick Schaeffer said. "There is nobody else alive that knows those guys. I don't know if even Orville knew them. So when you think of the two greatest historians ever of Razorbacks athletics, they are gone now: Orville Henry and Bob Cheyne."

Cheyne, ever the proponent of living history, brought three surviving members of the 1894 Razorbacks, the team whose records he discovered and then compiled, to be honored during a homecoming game.

Barnhill, as athletic director, directed him to nurture and orchestrate the Razorbacks Radio Network, and Bob became a legend as the Voice of the Razorbacks. Six times he was named the Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year.

Bob's versatility, abilities and gregariousness served him well in a long, productive business career for Cooper Communities and then for Sam's Club. Plus, he was a coveted member of too many service, school and church organizations to list if there was twice as much space available.

No doubt his ability to research helped, too.

Schaeffer, the most historically inclined of the SID's following Cheyne's footsteps, marvels at the fortitude Cheyne showed by painstakingly researching the Razorbacks' distant past, decades ahead of the internet.

"He came at a time when there wasn't anybody doing what he was doing," Schaeffer said. "He was responsible for all the record books before 1950. I don't know how he did it -- well, he did it with research -- but just a remarkable guy. He is a great loss to Arkansas history."

Sports on 03/19/2014