Hog Calls:

Timing finally right for Holtz honor

By: Nate Allen
Published: Wednesday, June 22, 2016
Arkansas coach Lou Holtz is carried by his players after defeating Oklahoma at the Orange Bowl in Miami, in this Jan. 2, 1978 photo. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
Arkansas coach Lou Holtz is carried by his players after defeating Oklahoma at the Orange Bowl in Miami, in this Jan. 2, 1978 photo. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Timing, not merit, kept Lou Holtz out of the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor until now.

Holtz is among eight honorees to be inducted Sept. 2 at the Hall of Honor banquet ceremony at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers and recognized during Arkansas' Sept. 3 football season opener with Louisiana Tech at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

The Razorbacks had 27 years to induct their former football coach, but this marks the first without a coaching or broadcast commitment that would prevent Holtz from attending.

Although he wore out his welcome and was fired in 1983 by athletic director Frank Broyles after his seventh season, Holtz's first three Arkansas years would have qualified him for induction among the Razorbacks' early Hall of Honor classes.

The Razorbacks' first Hall of Honor class was inaugurated in 1988 with Razorbacks legends Broyles, Lance Alworth, John Barnhill, Sidney Moncrief, Glen Rose and Clyde Scott.

Whether coaching at Minnesota, Notre Dame or South Carolina after Arkansas, Holtz never had the staying power like Arkansas athletic director-football coach icons Barnhill and especially Broyles (50 active Arkansas years 1958-2007 and emeritus beyond).

But as Broyles predicted upon hiring him as his own football coaching successor: "Lou will take the state by storm."

Lou certainly did. Energizing the team that had taken Broyles to his last Cotton Bowl as the 1975 Southwest Conference tri-champion but waned to 5-5-1 in 1976, Holtz propelled the 1977 Hogs to an 11-1 season capped by annihilating prohibitive favorite Oklahoma 31-6 in the Orange Bowl while his two best running backs and best wide receiver were left home on disciplinary suspension.

As bowl upsets go, it still ranks among the all-time best.

Great 9-2-1 and 10-2 seasons in 1978 and '79 ensued, particularly '79 when basically a no-name senior class led a lot of rookie starters to an unexpected Southwest Conference championship.

Despite some epic ups, routing No. 1 Texas 42-11 in 1981 at Fayetteville and the 1982 Hogs starting 7-0 in their eventual 9-2-1 season, things never consistently ran quite the same for Lou at Arkansas in the 1980s.

On the field and off, Lou's magic lost its luster.

Even at Notre Dame, with a national championship cementing his College Hall of Fame berth, Holtz eventually wore out his welcome.

Apparently his TV act wore thin at ESPN, too.

But with a fresh audience, Lou was a college football icon whether coaching the game or analyzing it.

The timing is right with him a full year out of ESPN for his Arkansas Hall of Honor induction.

Holtz will be honored during an Arkansas game while his heart "Skips" for Arkansas' opponent.

Skip Holtz, Lou's son, is the head coach at Louisiana Tech, the team opposing the Razorbacks the weekend that his dad becomes Arkansas honored.

Sports on 06/22/2016

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