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If memory serves, Longhorns aren't all bad

By: Wally Hall Wally Hall's Twitter account
Published: Thursday, September 9, 2021

It was 1974 and your scribe was barely a year out from his honorable discharge from the Air Force and trying to decide if my lifelong dream of being a sports reporter was going to work out.

If memory serves, it was a Monday when Lyndon Finney, one of my bosses, came up and said, “Get ready, you are going to Austin for Arkansas-Texas.”

A surge of emotions ran through me, including excitement that my first college road game would be the Texas Longhorns and there would be travel with sports editor Fred Morrow. He was a gifted writer who once, when asked for advice, said: “Write a million words, throw them away and then you will be ready to learn.”

Having grown up in Arkansas with the proper dislike of all things Longhorns, I expected to find everything to be ugly in Austin. Instead, it was a weekend I never have forgotten.

We stayed at a Rodeway Inn motel a few miles from the stadium, and Morrow insisted we not eat Mexican food Friday night because it would be served in the press box Saturday.

Matt’s El Rancho catered the press box and it was amazing.

Texas won 38-7, and the Razorbacks’ lone score came on a 50-yard run by Rolland Fuchs with 3:33 to play.

Writing a sidebar on that day was easy.

As we were leaving the stadium Morrow eased the car across a street into the old Villa Capri Motel, which was always sold out for Texas home games. It also was where Texas football coach Darrell Royal met with the media after games.

Room 2001 was a large suite (probably not as large as in my memory). When Royal walked in and looked around, mine was the only unfamiliar face.

He graciously introduced himself, shook my hand and asked whether I minded making him a 7 and 7 (Seagram’s 7 and 7 UP). It was something I had never done before, but at that point refusing Darrell Royal was not in my thought process.

I mixed it about 50-50 and added a twist of lime.

Royal took a sip and declared to the room it was the best drink he had ever had, and then he got around to talking about the game as reporters took notes.

Royal said he had to meet with boosters and excused himself about an hour later. As he left, I noticed the best drink he had ever had was almost full. He was too gracious to complain about it being too strong.

Fast forward several years to a Sunday night at the Corky’s in North Little Rock. James Street and Bob Hayes, who starred for the Longhorns on the 1969 team, were speaking at the Little Rock Touchdown Club the next day, and David Bazzel and Bruce James — who played for the Razorbacks in The Big Shootout — had a small reception for them.

Hayes, an All-American offensive lineman, entered first, but I was waiting to meet Street — the fire-breathing dragon who slayed the Razorbacks with two fourth-quarter drives, including a 42-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion by him for a 15-14 win.

On that Saturday afternoon on national TV, Street seemed like a giant, passing for 124 yards and running for 73.

When he walked in, he was a slender, 5-11 mortal. Nothing said superstar, although in his own rite he was.

Hayes and Street were humble, and Hayes said every time Street watches a replay of that game, “He bets on Arkansas.”

The University of Texas was too powerful during the old Southwest Conference and Big 12 days, and may be when it joins the SEC. But other than many scores against Arkansas, many of my memories of UT are good ones.

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