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McFadden's day, honor for Broyles endure

By: Wally Hall
Published: Thursday, June 15, 2017
 In this Nov. 3, 2007, file photo, former Arkansas coach and athletic director Frank Broyles, left, and school Chancellor John White, right, lead the school's cheer on the field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium during halftime ceremonies in a NCAAA college football game against South Carolina in Fayetteville, Ark. Broyles was retiring at the end of that year, his 50th with the school. (AP Photo/Beth Hall, File)
In this Nov. 3, 2007, file photo, former Arkansas coach and athletic director Frank Broyles, left, and school Chancellor John White, right, lead the school's cheer on the field at Reynolds Razorback Stadium during halftime ceremonies in a NCAAA college football game against South Carolina in Fayetteville, Ark. Broyles was retiring at the end of that year, his 50th with the school. (AP Photo/Beth Hall, File)

No doubt the Nov. 3, 2007, game against South Carolina was big. The 48-36 win had a lot to do with it being voted No. 20 in the Silver Anniversary list of Arkansas Razorbacks football games as a member of the SEC.

Darren McFadden had an almost perfect game, rushing for 321 yards, throwing a 23-yard touchdown pass to friend and former quarterback Robert Johnson, and also catching a pass.

It put McFadden on the Heisman radar.

Felix Jones also rushed for 166 yards as the Hogs totaled 651 yards, 542 of which were on the ground.

That's why it made the list. But it was already going to be a huge day, just no one knew how big at the time.

It was Frank Broyles' last home game in an official capacity at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. After 50 years as head football coach and athletic director, he was handing the reins over to Jeff Long and would concentrate on raising money for the Razorback Foundation.

At the half, with the Hogs leading 28-10, Broyles went to midfield as former players and assistant coaches made their way to the end zone.

They just kept coming. Hundreds of them were there to honor their coach, their boss and their mentor on the night the field was named after him.

With the final home game against Mississippi State set for War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, many believed this would be McFadden and Jones' final game in Fayetteville.

It was also as odd an era as the Hogs had ever known.

For several months, Coach Houston Nutt had been embroiled in controversy over text messages to a female newscaster and the departures of quarterback Mitch Mustain, receiver Damian Williams and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

Nutt had become a polarizing figure in his home state. Despite having McFadden and Jones, two of the nation's best running backs, he was criticized for his lack of a passing attack.

The fan base was fractured and needed victories to hold it together.

When the shadows surrounding Mustain, Williams and Malzahn developed the season before, a 10-game winning streak was the glue the Razorbacks program needed.

Going into this game with the Gamecocks, the Hogs were 5-3 and the fans were desperate for their first home SEC victory of the season.

A bad Razorbacks snap resulted in a safety, and South Carolina drove 55 yards for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 42-36 with 8:15 to play. Nutt turned to the player with the hot hand.

Just 11 seconds later, McFadden was in the end zone with an 80-yard touchdown run.

Arkansas would lose at Tennessee but bounce back with wins over Mississippi State and LSU -- and that three-overtime game with the Tigers is definitely on the list of top 25 games -- but the Hogs were 4-4 in conference play and LSU was 6-2.

The Tigers went on to win the BCS national championship.

Three days after the win over LSU, Nutt announced his resignation at Arkansas. Then-chancellor John White tried to talk him out of it, but when he couldn't, he let Nutt out of a contract provision, mentioning Nutt's "golden handcuffs." White decided to let Nutt resign and still receive a $3.2 million payout.

The next day, Nutt was introduced as the new head football coach at Ole Miss, leaving no doubt his agent, Jimmy Sexton, is one of the best in the business. Nutt was fired four years later but with a buyout of around $6 million, which was later renegotiated for a lump sum of $5 million. He is currently an analyst for CBS Sports and has recently stated he expects an apology from Ole Miss for statements made during an NCAA investigation of the university.

No one knew how big that final home game of 2007 would be.

Sports on 06/15/2017

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