Like It Is:

Texas animosity skipped a generation of Razorback fans

By: Wally Hall Wally Hall's Twitter account
Published: Wednesday, September 8, 2021
An Arkansas football fan flashes a downward hook 'em sign during the Razorbacks' 38-28 victory over Texas on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2003, in Austin, Texas.
( David Gottschalk)
An Arkansas football fan flashes a downward hook 'em sign during the Razorbacks' 38-28 victory over Texas on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2003, in Austin, Texas.

Maybe there is no explaining it.

Maybe you had to live it.

Arkansas Razorback fans wanted to beat Texas more than any other team in the country.

For Hog callers, it was an unrivaled rivalry. What made it even more sensitive was the Razorbacks were third, at best, on UT’s hierarchy or disdain.

The T-sippers had a natural in-state rivalry with Texas A&M, and they had the annual Red River Shootout with Oklahoma.

For Razorback faithful, beating the most dominant team in the old Southwest Conference meant bragging rights.

Because they haven’t played in the same conference for 30 years, many of the younger Razorback fans see their Hogs are 3-2 vs. Texas since Arkansas left the SWC for the SEC.

Many weren’t born in 1969 for The Big Shootout between No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Arkansas, which was the national game of the week and ranks in the Top 10 of all-time games.

Texas won 15-14.

Yours truly volunteered for the Air Force on the Monday after that game. The Foreign Legion was full.

It was a loss that took too many years to get over. Texas won the national championship, and Arkansas lost to Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl.

The stark reality is the 1964 game should have been the biggest, but it didn’t have the fanfare and wasn’t moved to the last weekend of the season in anticipation of a national TV audience.

In 1964, it was the Razorbacks who went to Austin and with the help of an 81-yard punt return by Ken Hatfield won 14-13.

It was Arkansas who went undefeated that year and beat Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl.

Back then, The Associated Press named its national champion before the bowl games and that was Alabama, who lost to Texas in the Orange Bowl.

The Football Writers Association of American awarded Arkansas its Grantland Rice trophy as the national champs, and it is just as recognized by the NCAA as the AP title.

What made that season so sweet was the win in Austin.

In the first 72 meetings, mostly as conference foes, Texas had a 53-19 record against Arkansas.

So Razorback fans didn’t care if the coaches were best friends. All they wanted for Christmas was a win over UT.

Texas was to the SWC what Alabama is to the SEC. The Longhorns were everyone’s top target.

The University of Texas was bigger and richer than anyone else in the SWC and it showed.

The program was as arrogant as Ohio State but with a well-practiced “aw shucks” grin.

The Razorbacks were looked down upon by most of the SWC, but it seemed Texas did so the worst.

When ESPN gave Texas its own network, the attitude seemed to be that the Longhorns deserved it and no one else did.

It was rumored Texas was supposed to jump to the SEC when Arkansas did. Arkansas’ former head coach and athletic director Frank Broyles and Texas’ former head coach and associate athletic director Darrell Royal reportedly had worked it out while playing golf one week.

Politics intervened and Texas stayed put. The SEC added South Carolina, and Texas led the way for some of the SWC to merge with the Big 8.

Texas ruled the roost, and it and Oklahoma got bigger shares of the earnings.

In the 30-year absence, the hatred for Texas by Razorback fans has faded to a severe dislike, and they probably would rather beat Alabama if given a choice.

It has been 30 years since Arkansas and Texas were conference opponents. That’s a lot of water under the bridge, but when they become SEC brothers within the next four years, a couple of generations of Razorback fans will start to understand why the biggest and sweetest wins for the Hogs were against Texas.

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