Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy, has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, and has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Goldsmith coached on both sides of Arkansas-Rice
Fred Goldsmith of Duke works with Kentucky's Donte' Key and other lineman during practice Wednesday, Dec. 20, 1995 in Montgomery, Ala., in preparation for the Blue Gray All-Star Classic on Christmas Day. Goldsmith resurrected the Duke program in 1994 and decided to stay even though Miami and several other schools came calling. (AP Photo)
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas opening its football season Saturday against the Rice Owls recalls, on a Fayetteville golf course, Fred Goldsmith’s 1984 ignominious introduction to head coaching Rice in 1989.
Defensive coordinator Goldsmith was among the Air Force assistants Ken Hatfield brought with him to Arkansas while retaining veteran Arkansas assistants Ken Turner and Jesse Branch in 1984.
Branch, a 1961 and ’62 letterman for Frank Broyles’ Southwest Conference champions and 1975-85 Arkansas assistant, and Goldsmith were teeing off on a summer off day.
“A couple of fellows drove up in their golf carts,” Goldsmith recalled. “They wanted to play for some money.”
Newcomer Goldsmith didn’t know the men but knew his wallet.
“I forget what they wanted to play for but I said, ‘Jesse, I only have $5 with me,” Goldsmith recalled. “Jesse said, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s like playing Rice.’ And he was right.”
They prevailed like Arkansas prevailed 12 of 13 times that Branch played or coached against Rice.
Rice, 0-11 in 1988, changed coaches upon Goldsmith coordinating Arkansas’ SWC champion defense.
Goldsmith wanted in the worst way to be a Division I head coach. Perhaps literally the worst way he buyer’s remorsed.
“I wake up the next morning and my mind goes back to five years earlier with Jesse Branch,” Goldsmith said “And I say, ‘Oh, my gosh! What have I done?'”
Turned out Goldsmith, and Hatfield succeeding him in 1994 upon Goldsmith coaching Duke, did Rice well.
An esteemed but tiny academic bastion, Rice during Goldsmith’s 1989-93 tenure astounded, closing 6-5, 6-5.
His 1990 Owls beat the Jack Crowe-coached Razorbacks in Little Rock.
Relations so frosted between Hatfield and athletic director Frank Broyles that Hatfield seized the Clemson job following his 1989 SWC championship.
Their fences so mended that Hatfield eulogized at Broyles’ 2017 funeral.
But in the early 1990s among Hatfield loyalists, Arkansas wounds ran emotionally deep.
“Winning at Arkansas in 1990 was one of the biggest thrills I ever had,” Goldsmith said. “The way things had happened there with Ken and everything — I think I cried after that ballgame all the way home on the airplane. It traditionally was the lowest game of the year for Arkansas in terms of preparation. But for us, Arkansas was the biggest game of the year.”
Hatfield’s 1994-2005 Rice regime included an 8-4, two 7-4s and in 1994 tied Texas for the SWC championship.
Both relish their Rice time, yet indelibly remain Razorbacks.
UA grad Hatfield retired to Arkansas, avidly attending Razorbacks events.
Retired near Atlanta, Goldsmith recalled Razorbacks reflexes coaching Duke.
“That first year we beat Georgia Tech, which was a big win,” Goldsmith said. “I’m running off the field and the first thing that came out of my mouth was, ‘Woo, Pig, Sooie!’
"A guy from Sports Illustrated was standing right there and put that in his story. I caught the devil from the Duke people because Arkansas had just beaten us for the national championship in basketball. But once you’re a Razorback, you’re always a Razorback.”
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