FAYETTTEVILLE – Following a week highlighted by several major upsets, coaches everywhere are stressing the need to take all opponents seriously regardless of FBS or FCS status.
If Sam Pittman wants to deliver the same message in regard to Bobby Petrino's Missouri State Bears, he has plenty of examples from relatively recent Razorback football history.
Arkansas vs. The Citadel
This may be the most infamous upset in Razorback history both because of The Citadel's status as a Division I-AA school back when the gap between that level of college football and Power 5 schools was dramatically bigger than it is now, and also because head coach Jack Crowe was fired almost immediately after in the team's first official game as an SEC school.
Thank goodness Nolan Richardson's basketball team was highly coveted by then SEC commissioner Roy Kramer because Arkansas might have been uninvited as quickly as Crowe was from the athletic offices if Kramer didn't.
Perhaps Kramer felt pity since the Hogs were taken down by a new rule change that allowed a fumble to be advanced from any point on the field.
E.D. Jackson, who was having a monster game averaging six yards per carry for 167 yards, seemed destined for a first down en route to what should have been at least a game-winning field goal by Todd Wright.
However, Jackson fumbled at the Arkansas 37 and The Citadel's Judson Boehmer executed what may have been the first scoop and score under the new rule.
It also turned out to be the game's only touchdown in a 10-3 loss.
Out of fairness to Crowe, The Citadel had beaten five of its last six Division I opponents, but nothing about that loss felt like Arkansas fans knew that little nugget, including athletics director Frank Broyles.
It was the first season opening loss in Fayetteville since Chilocco (Okla.) Indian Agriculture School beat Arkansas 6-0 in 1906. While it was officially reported as a resignation, Broyles was so furious that he fired Crowe without even speaking with the players.
"He vented, and I vented back, and the hotter he got, the hotter I got," Crowe told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette 20 years later. "I think I said, 'Frank, this is going to be a lot different a week from now, because we're going to South Carolina, and I guarantee you we're going to win. If we don't, you can fire me.' He said something like, 'I don't know if I can wait that long,' and that ticked me off.
"I said, 'I'm going to lunch. Call me if I'm still your football coach.' He didn't call."
Former Arkansas interim coach Barry Lunney, Jr., who was in his third week on campus, was supposed to play in the third series of the game, coming in for then starter Jason Allen. However, the Razorbacks went three-and-out and Crowe decided to stick with his starter.
Lunney later told the Democrat-Gazette that he was in his dorm room when he found out the news the same way people all the way in Eudora found out – on the crawl during an NFL game on CBS.
"You could tell the people who were watching NFL games at that time, because one by one guys starting coming out of their dorm rooms and looking down the hallway saying, 'Did you see what I just saw?' " Lunney told the newspaper.
As fans would find out the following week when interim coach Joe Kines led Arkansas to a 45-7 win over South Carolina in its first-ever SEC conference game, the only person who could keep Lunney on the bench was Crowe. The future coach played in every game that followed.
In a twist of fate, Crowe coached a Jacksonville State team to a 49-48 overtime upset at Ole Miss.
The coach? Former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt.
The victory sent the Rebels tumbling to a 4-18 finish to Nutt's tenure there after a pair of 9-4 seasons.
Arkansas vs. Louisiana-Monroe
This is a game Bobby Petrino would like to forget even if his team did technically win.
However, after Louisiana-Monroe took a 27-14 lead in the fourth quarter,
With Fayetteville coach Casey Dick at the helm armed with a trio of receivers from Warren who would soon assault the record books, Arkansas needed a late drive to come back and hold on for a 28-27 win.
Petrino may look like a genius now, but on 4th & 1 from the ULM 32 he took a risk that could have changed the direction of the entire program. Instead of running for the first down to guarantee a fresh set of downs with two minutes left, Petrino put the game in the hands of Dick.
With a defender wrapped around his leg and beginning to fall, the gunslinger from Allen, Texas threw into double coverage to freshman tight end Chris Gragg. Miles away from the future draft pick he would become, Gragg was able to high point the ball just outside the 10-yard line and avoid the upset for the time being.
Sticking with the future NFL tight end theme, Dick threaded a pass to DJ Williams between four defenders to tie the game, 26-26.
The point after by Shay Hadcock brought a bit of relief throughout the stadium, but it wouldn't last long. Kinsman Lancaster hit a 27-yard pass to Anthony McCall on the next play from scrimmage to put ULM at the Arkansas 42-yard line.
The Warhawks drove down to the Arkansas 27 and had a chance to win it with a field goal with 40 seconds left. Fortunately for Petrino and the Razorbacks, kicker Jeremy Gener missed the 45-yard attempt, ensuring Arkansas and its coach would avoid the same fate that befell newly named Alabama coach Nick Saban the year before at the hands of the Warhawks in Tuscaloosa.
Arkansas vs. North Texas
The boys from Denton, Texas were as mean as their nickname suggests on this day. Perhaps no game defined the Chad Morris era more than this train wreck.
Not only did the Mean Green embarrass the Hogs on the scoreboard in this 44-17 beating, but they brought irreparable harm to the program as the highlight of a trick punt return played on loop on every sports channel for days on end.
There it was for every recruit to see. Keegan Brewer just acted like he had made a fair catch then took off for a 90-yard touchdown as the undisciplined Razorback special teams turned their backs on him.
Arkansas vs. Portland State, San Jose State, Colorado State, Western Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Missouri
In the glow of the Sam Pittman era, it's hard to even imagine how destitute the Chad Morris era actually was. Those were dark times indeed, but, perhaps out of self preservation, the long list of embarrassing moments and upsets (Can you call them upsets if Morris is the coach?) had been forced from memory.
It feels even more jolting looking back than it did in the moment.
While Portland State is technically a win, can anyone consider a 20-13 home victory over an FCS school that struggles to compete in the Big Sky a victory?
All the rest on the list were prominent losses.
Arkansas lost to a Colorado State team that was firmly affixed to the ESPN Bottom 10 rankings along with San Jose State as one of college football's worst programs.
When Arkansas finally managed to avenge the loss in what would be the last of four wins from the Morris era, what happened next was more shameful than if the Razorbacks had just lost the game.
By the time former Razorback quarterback Ty Storey showed up to get even with Morris as quarterback of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Arkansas fans were so fed up that some admitted to cheering on Storey, hoping that his vindication would also bring an end to the nightmare.
It did. Morris was fired soon after.
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