Like It Is:

Morris comfortable in front of LRTC crowd

By: Wally Hall
Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Arkansas coach Chad Morris speaks to the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, at Embassy Suites Hotel in Little Rock.
Photo by John Sykes Jr.
Arkansas coach Chad Morris speaks to the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, at Embassy Suites Hotel in Little Rock.

By 11 a.m. there were no parking spots left on the street and the Embassy Suites parking lot and decks were filling up fast.

It was still almost an hour-and-a-half until Chad Morris, the head football coach at the University of Arkansas, would address the Little Rock Touchdown Club for the first time.

The club's attendance record of 600, and that was for Frank Broyles, was going down.

The ballroom was so full of tables and chairs that the buffets were in the hallway and every server on the hotel's payroll was scrambling to feed the 700, a standing room only crowd, who came to hear about the Razorbacks and the upcoming season.

It seemed like a million who lined up to have their picture made with Morris.

Most expected to hear a rah-rah speech and hopefully get a glimmer of hope coming off a 4-8 season.

Morris was not hyper, over hopeful or Hog wild, but no one left disappointed. The crowd left educated about Morris and about the future of the program which has gone 13-35 in SEC play the last six years.

That is not acceptable to the fans and Morris knows that.

He stated emphatically the people of the state of Arkansas are deserving of a great football program.

Morris made one promise, that the fans would get the very best he, his staff and the team had to offer.

[STORY + VIDEO: Chad Morris says state eager for football winner]

He wisely didn't predict anything -- not a won-loss record or who the quarterback would be -- just a promise to work harder every day.

In a heartfelt, passionate talk of 30 minutes Morris chose to define himself as a man and a coach. He wanted the fans to know their new head coach is a humble, hard-working family man who loves football and everything that goes with it.

That from an early age his parents instilled in him the need to work.

His dad, a fireman who painted houses on the side, and the family planted 400 peach trees and would sell the fruit on the side of the road.

While his friends were playing, Morris was working on the farm and until all his chores were done, and done right, he didn't think about asking to join his friends.

Morris is most likely something of an introvert who has learned how to be comfortable in front of a crowd, and he injected a bit of humor from time to time.

Such as saying his daughter was attending a college in central Texas, a college he graduated from and one they would be playing in a few weeks. He wouldn't say Texas A&M but it was playful and not malicious.

His daughter Mackenzie is a senior and he reminds her often that it is Arkansas money that is paying her way. He smiled when he said that.

He explained that he had not intended to be a coach, but when a group of his basketball players came to his house and asked him not to leave because he was making a difference in their lives, he made a career change that would see him win two Texas state high school football championships and help develop a great quarterback at Clemson.

Morris said at heart he has always been a high school coach, but not to worry, he has made the transition to college coaching.

If one closed their eyes, they might have thought they were listening to a young Frank Broyles, who always brought enthusiasm and energy into everything he did while extolling making good decisions.

In closing, Morris, who hosted a reunion last Saturday for 300 former Razorback football players, said there are three things you can never take back: 1. Time; 2. Words (and he cautions his players about tweets and retweets); and 3. Opportunity, and that he has an unbelievable one now that he's building one day at a time.

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Sports on 08/21/2018

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