Saturday, May 12, 2012

From the Sports Chest: Arkansas Razorbacks 1999 Signed Team Football

August 14, 1999 – I count 55 signatures on this signature panel football that I had signed at Fan Appreciation Day 1999.  People with long lines (Coach Houston Nutt, Quarterback Clint Stoerner, Wide Receiver Anthony Lucas, etc.) were skipped on this day so that my goal of getting the signature of nearly everyone else could be accomplished. You can actually make out many of the signatures on this ball, a significant achievement from the perspective of a left-handed person with poor penmanship. The autographs written in blue ink don’t seem to have held up well 13 years later. In contrast, you can clearly make out most of the signatures in black ink.  I’d like to express a big “Thank you!” to the players that included their uniform # alongside their “John Hancock”.

This helps me identify the following signers of my 1999 Arkansas Razorbacks football team ball: Kenoy Kennedy, Raymond House, Derrick Johnson, Jamel Harris, Delancy Kent, D’andre Berry, Jim Ed Reed, John Geitner, Joe Dean Davenport, Curt Davis, Andre Ackee, Chris Brooks, Eric Parks, Orlando Green, Joe Bailey, Sparky Hamilton, Bobby Williams, Robby Hampton, Josh Melton, J.J. Jones, David Barrett, Chris Akin, Lazerius White, Nathan Ball, Rossi Morreale, Matt Burnstein, George Wilson, Mark Bokermann, Randy Garner, Michael Jenkins, Gary Brashears, Rodney Hampton, Jared McBride, Tony Dodson & Bo Lacy.

Thanks guys for your contributions to the Razorback football program and to my Razorback memorabilia collection!

Friday, May 11, 2012

From the Sports Chest: Arkansas Razorbacks 2000 NUTTin’ But Fun Towel

September 2000 – Southwestern Bell produced this promotional towel to hand out to fans ahead of the 2000 Arkansas Razorbacks football season. I can’t recall if I received this at Fan Appreciation Day in August or prior to the game on September 30, 2000 against the Georgia Bulldogs. My wife, brother and sister-in-law were standing outside the stadium looking for 4 tickets together when a kind stranger handed us free tickets to the game. We had great upper level seats on a beautiful day at Razorback Stadium. Unfortunately, Robby Hampton threw a pick-6 on the first series of the game and it was all downhill from there in a 38-7 shellacking.

The 2000 season was anything but fun. Arkansas finished 6-6 on the season (3-5 in Southeastern Conference play) and the Houston Nutt era was in a steady decline from the magical start to the 1998 season. I’ve recalled the “NUTTin’ But Fun” slogan from this towel several times since, mostly during the down years with Houston Nutt at the helm (of which there were way too many). Thankfully, the state of the Razorback program is much better today, even in light of recent events that saw the departure of Bobby Petrino and the hiring of John L. Smith as the interim coach. Hopefully, Hog fans will have much more fun during the upcoming season than they did twelve years ago.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

From the Sports Chest: #1 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels vs #2 University of Arkansas Razorbacks, February 10, 1991 Pom-Pon

February 10, 1991 – This game was bigger than big. It’s the #1 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels taking on the #2 Arkansas Razorbacks in Barnhill Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It’s Tark the Shark vs Rollin' with Nolan. It’s Todd Day taking a swing at Larry Johnson. It’s the men vs the boys. It’s me getting on national TV by walking behind Lesley Visser during the CBS pre-game (true story - check the tape). It’s college students camping out all week for the best seats in the student section. It’s a controversial Sunday morning tip-off in the conservative, Bible-belt region of the country.

This pom-pon was given to each of the 9,640 fans in attendance that day. I’d venture a guess to say that I have one of the few remaining specimens in mint condition. This promotional item was sponsored by Magic 107.9 KEZA FM & Maxie’s Better Burgers To Go and included a plastic pull-off tab with a Maxie’s coupon.  While the Hogs lost the game 112-105 (the final score not indicative of how much UNLV really dominated the game), they finished the season 34-4 (15-1 in Southwest Conference play) and made it to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament (losing to Kansas, 93-81). The Runnin’ Rebels, on the other hand, finished the season 34-1, their only loss in the NCAA Championship game to the Duke Blue Devils.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

From the Sports Chest: Anthony Lucas Autographed Riddell Mini Football Helmet

August 1999 – Fan Appreciation Day is the one day set aside for the Arkansas Razorback football team to meet face-to-face with the public. Coach Houston Nutt scheduled this day on one Saturday each fall, typically prior to a major pre-season scrimmage. Unfortunately, it usually meant battling the intense August heat as you wait in line, moving from table to table to meet your favorite player and get his signature.

Anthony Lucas, from Tallulah, Louisiana, was a star wide receiver for the Hogs from 1995-1999. He was two-time All-SEC First Team (’98, ’99) and held the team record for career receiving yards (2,879) until it was broken by Jarius Wright during the 2011 season. While I had other players sign a team ball at Fan Appreciation Day, Anthony Lucas was one of my favorite players and deserved to sign this Riddell Mini Football Helmet all by himself. Three months after signing this helmet, “Stoerner to Lucas” would be etched into the memories of Hog fans everywhere as one of the greatest redemption games in college football history.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

From the Sports Chest: Arkansas Razorbacks 1998 Souvenir Stadium Cup

September 1998Houston Nutt returned to the program he once quarterbacked as Frank Broyles’ choice to take the Arkansas Razorbacks to new heights in the rigorous Southeastern Conference. The 1998 football season opened with great enthusiasm and optimism. I attended the first conference game in Fayetteville against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Arkansas won 42-6 and really controlled the game from start to finish. I attended the game with my wife, brother and sister-in-law and we had a great time celebrating a big SEC victory against the past and future SEC standard bearer.
This cup was sold at Razorback Stadium and featured a quarterback in the road white jersey wearing uniform #14. Hmmm…I wonder who that could be? This “Clint Stoerner cup” featured the player art with Coca-Cola logo on one side and the full game schedule on the other side. This ’98 team won their first 8 games and finished 9-3 on the season. Thanks to Coach Nutt and the players on this squad, the Arkansas Razorbacks were back on the national map.