All week long in Texas the people had said the Hogs ain't nuthin' but groceries and that on Saturday, in the thundering zoo of Fayetteville, the No. I Longhorns would eat—to quote the most horrendous pun ever thought of by some Lone Star wit—"Hog meat with Worster-Speyrer sauce."
This is not exactly what Darrell Royal's team dined on up there in those maddening Ozark hills, of course. What Texas had was one hell of a hard time winning the national championship 15-14 from a quicker, more alert Arkansas team that for three quarters made the Longhorns look like your everyday, common, ordinary whip dog Baylor or Rice.
Texas fans, buoyed by the knowledge that their team had buried all six of its common opponents by much fatter scores than the Razorbacks had, and Haunting dozens of those wonderful statistics, had forgotten what this game always is. which is close and psychotic. They strolled around like Ohio State enthusiasts before the Michigan debacle, an event which made this spectacular possible, uttering absurdities like "42 to 7 and bring on Notre Dame." Terrific, just terrific.
"We're beginning to develop some difficult fans," said Royal. "They don't understand that there's no such person as King Kong, and that when you start thinking there is, you can get ready to wipe your bloody nose."
December 15, 1969
For three quarters, as probably 30 million viewers must have seen on television, Arkansas did practically all of the bloodying. Bill Montgomery, a marvelous quarterback most of the day, passed and ran the Longhorns into a state of shock and his own team and fans into their loudest afternoon of any year ever. A furious Arkansas defense swarmed on Texas to cause four fumbles and two interceptions while Montgomery and his roommate-end. Chuck Dicus, combined to bedazzle their visitors for 14 points and what seemed like the safest lead since Orval Faubus rode in a motorcade.
Watching the emotional Razorbacks bounce Texas around on its AstroTurf for 45 minutes—blasting out those fumbles and picking off those interceptions with their hard hitting—one could think only of Royal's sober warnings of the day before.
"They're gonna come after us with their eyes pulled up like BBs," Darrell said. "And they'll be defending every foot as if Frank Broyles has told 'em there's a 350-foot drop just behind 'em into a pile of rocks. If you believe that, you're pretty hard to move around."
Arkansas was certainly that. Until the first play of the fourth quarter, the closest Texas had driven was to the Arkansas 31-yard line, and most of the time it hadn't been able to get across mid-Held. The Razorbacks were doing exactly what Broyles had said they had to do—stay put and don't miss tackles—against the second-best rushing team, statistically, at least, that ever played college football.
Meanwhile, Montgomery, so cool and clever he even impressed that former second-string tackle from Whittier, Richard Nixon, was hurling a 21-yard pass to John Rees to set up a touchdown in the first quarter and a 29-yard touchdown to Dicus early in the third quarter to suggest that this might be dear old Ann Arbor all over again.
Unlike Ohio State, however, Texas had been behind 14-0 before against a team, Oklahoma, which on that October day, at least, was higher than your usual astronaut collecting gray rocks. Just as Arkansas was last Saturday until the fourth quarter when Texas' little quarterback, James Street, finally got himself and his gang going. Street is not an especially good passer, and he has never been compared to O.J. Simpson or even Jim Bertelsen in the open field, but James Street is a winner. He had never lost a football game in 18 straight since becoming the Texas quarterback in the third game of last year. And now he was about to make it 19 straight—somehow, someway, in the midst of all of that chaos in the Ozarks.
Let us talk now of the comeback, for that is all there is left that is important about this centennial year of the sport. The season-long battle for No. 1 had shrunk to the last 15 minutes of the last game, and the question of whether Texas, thoroughly bothered and bewildered, could find a way out of its clamps.
Upstairs in the world's most crowded little press box, where the President had moved at halftime to chat with Bud Wilkinson and Chris Schenkel, a very miserable man stood holding hands, for luck, with a pretty girl. He was Jones Ramsey, the Texas publicity man, and she was Barbara Specht, the Centennial Queen.
"I hate to be partial." said the queen, who goes to Texas Tech, "but after all I am a Texan."
And Ramsey said, "I'm a coward and I believe in jinxes, but maybe Street doesn't."
About this time, on second down and nine from the Arkansas 42, Street, who boars the nickname of Slick because of his good looks, his flashy clothes and, more important to Royal, his ball handling, dropped back to pass. Then, seeing his receivers covered, Street darted through the line, flashed into the Arkansas secondary (see cover), slipped past tacklers and sped on an angle across the field, running for either the goal line or the presidential helicopter. No one was about to catch him. It was the first daylight Texas had seen and Street took advantage of it for the touchdown.
Street also went for two points on the conversion, which wasn't so surprising. When you're No. 1 you have to try to stay that way, and a tie would have put Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl against the Irish and probably blown the national title for either. So Slick Street ran an option to his left and barged in. It was 14-8, and suddenly this was the Texas-Arkansas game we all know and love.
"I was gonna throw the hook," Street said later of his touchdown run. "But their linebacker fogged my eyes. I couldn't see any receivers, so I decided I'd better run. Sure glad."
Having displayed what people call his so-so running ability to the utmost. Street would soon get an opportunity to display his so-so passing ability and, in fact, win the game good and proper. That, however, took a decision by Arkansas that the Hogs may ponder long and hard. It quite possibly cost Arkansas the game.
Although Street's run had put Texas back in the game, Arkansas stormed right back and, with Montgomery hitting three passes, the Razorbacks moved 73 yards to the Texas seven-yard line. Here it was, third down with only 10 minutes left to play, and just about everybody in Arkansas and Texas knew that the signal to Montgomery from Arkansas' Offensive Coach Don Breaux would be to run the middle and take the field goal. That would make it 17-8, a margin too great to overcome.
But Arkansas didn't take the three points. Montgomery, under a rush, threw short and badly into the end zone for Dicus, who looked open, and up came Danny Lester to intercept. Texas was alive.
The Longhorns moved but couldn't score on that resulting drive because of still another fumble, but when they got the ball again after a punt on their own 36, they did. On the first three plays of the drive, Steve Worster, who tore out 94 yards for the day, got only six yards, and Ted Koy, already the victim of two fumbles, got one. It was fourth and three at Texas' own 43—with less than five minutes to play.
From the sidelines Royal gave Street the play, although he doesn't know why.
"In a case like that, you just suck it up and pick a number." he said. "There's, no logic to it. Just a hunch."
It was a bomb, which Street isn't supposed to throw well or complete unless Cotton Speyrer outfights somebody for the ball. But it wasn't Speyrer, just as it wasn't Worster in the middle. No Worster-Speyrer sauce, in other words. It was a 44-yard spiral to the tight end. Randy Peschel, the only receiver Texas sent out, who had gone streaking down the sideline, right past the Texas bench and just a step ahead of his double coverage. Although the pass was perfect. Street said Peschel "only made the greatest catch in the history of football." Well, it was a good one, to say the least. The play put Texas on Arkansas' 13-yard line, and there could be little doubt then that the powerful rushing team would punch it in. Two plays did it.
Ted Koy made up for both of his fumbles when he crashed for 11 yards to the Arkansas two on the first play, and then Jim Bertelsen dived in for the tying touchdown with 3:58 on the clock. Happy Feller's placement provided the winning margin.
There was still plenty of time for Arkansas, of course, and Bill Montgomery proceeded to hit four more thrilling passes and move the Razorbacks to the Texas 39. But there, with 1:13 to play, he floated one out in the right flat, and Tom Campbell, the son of Texas' defensive Coach Mike Campbell, outgrabbed John Rees for it and the Longhorns were ready to meet the President.
It had been quite a football game, but for Fayetteville, Ark. it was merely the climax of a week-long metamorphosis—from the nation's No. 2 chicken producer to its sports capital. Still, the kick-off came none too soon for the city's economy was beginning to suffer. "I'd be selling a suit to someone," the manager of a men's store said on Wednesday, and we'd start talking about the game and I'd lose a sale. You wake up in the morning and your first thought is 'How many days to go?' "
The mania grew as the week progressed. Hog fever, they called it. Its symbol was Arkansas' mascot, the ugliest razorback hog in creation. Poster likenesses, with various exhortations to Hog supremacy, appeared in 80% of the town's store fronts. Then a large sign sprouted at the First Baptist Church: ATTENTION DARRLLL ROYAL—DO NOT CAST YOUR STEERS BEEORE SWINE.
"God should be kept neutral," Royal said.
"He ought to know this is the Lord's home state," replied Andrew Hall, First Baptist pastor. "Whoever heard of the Garden of Eden in Texas?"
By midweek local newspapers were mere sheets of cartoon ads showing galloping Hogs and moribund Texas Steers. "Go Hogs go—with your regular game plan," one ad read. "May the Steers rest in peace with our perpetual care plan. Lots $80 and up. Forest Park Cemetery."
Fayetteville has always been Hog wild. Texas has seven SWC teams, but the Razorbacks are an only child. "I feel about this game the way I did on my wedding day," a plumber said. "I know what's gonna happen, but still I'm anxious how it's gonna turn out. God, if we get beat I don't know what I'll do." The weekly Rotary meeting was nothing but a rally for middle-aged and elderly men. It opened with a radio broadcast of Short Squashed Texan, a blaring country tune exhumed for the game. Arkansas radio stations played it about 47 times daily between Monday and Thursday, then stepped up the frequency. "I'm a short squashed Texan." one stanza goes, "I had the No. I crow n. Now people look at me and say, 'That big red pig he put you down.' "
Four Razorback cheerleaders then took the floor to call the hogs. Whoooooee pigs sooooey, they screeched three times, with an encore, of course. Then Arkansas' oldest ex-player, 91-year-old Will Thomas, got up to reminisce. Thomas quarterbacked Arkansas in 1901. The big game that year, with LSU, drew 50 spectators. Now one would have been hard pressed to find that many in this town of 30,000 who weren't wearing at least some sort of GO HOGS badge.
Even elderly ladies and farmers in overalls wore them. "These old country folks always thought football was a waste of time," a barber said. "Now that's all they talk about. I bet Maw 'n Paw Kettle'll be here by Friday."
Richard Nixon, of course, was a shoo-in. and little old Fayetteville was agog at us first presidential visit in history. "I've never seen such tension in the air." a waitress said. "Imagine, almost any-one I wait on could be a Secret Service man. I nisi hope I get frisked." Every hour there was some new rumor, and excitement grew. Billy Graham to say the invocation? Man, this is the Bible Hell. "Well, we Catholics want the Pope," someone said.
"LBJ's comin', did ya hear?"
"Glen Campbell, Buck Owens, John Wayne, too."
"Nixon?" said a grinning cab driver. "As far as I'm concerned that's the biggest thing since Johnny Cash came last year." An hour later the arrival of Cash, himself, was rumored imminent. "Beat Texas—First Baptist Church," the church secretary answered her phone. "Heat Texas—long distance." the operators greeted callers all over the state. Texas favored? From the talk all over town, Arkansas had all but won. They had, if wishing could make it so. Jinx the Hogs with praise? "Why, Texas hasn't got a chance."
Celebrities aside though, football was the cause of it all. "If I get moved one-fourth of an inch closer to the end zone 'cause of Nixon," a salesman warned, "I'll vote Democrat the rest of my life."
The atmosphere on both campuses had been, of course, frenetic all week. Texas-Arkansas games always are, inasmuch as they had won or shared the Southwest Conference championship eight out of the last 10 seasons and had each won a national title. But the fact that the game had been moved by Darrell and Frank to this date—at the suggestion last March of ABC-TV's Roone Arledge—turned the affair into something more, almost, than ordinary folks could stand. It took on such aspects that it became what Duffy Daugherty had called the 1966 Michigan State-Notre Dame game: "It's not a matter of life and death. It's more important than that."
The signs and banners came out early in the hills of Arkansas and in the hill country around Austin. Arkansas is a curious state, one that saw part of its people in support of the Union, and a state that had elected a Fulbright and a Rockefeller at the same time that ii voted for a Wallace. Figure that out. What brings it all together, however, is football—Frank Broyles' Razorback football. And so out came the funny and fanatic slogans for this grandest week in the state's history. They said such things as WE'LL WIN FOR YOU MR. PRESIDENT—GAS 28¢, BEAT TEXAS, BEVO IS STERILE, BEAT NOTRE DAME, HOGS SNOW STREET AND SKI NUMBER 1. And all that.
As early as the morning before the game, on Friday, instant traffic jams developed around the campus and along the drags with students just driving around, honking and hollering. They waved beer cans and Confederate Hags, their roadsters painted red and white, their hands uplifted in signs that in more enlightened areas have come to mean peace and love.
When Royal was driving with a friend back to Rogers, Ark. after Friday's brief workout in the Razorback Stadium and saw carloads of Arkansas fans sooey-pigging and holding up two fingers, he said, "They don't know that means peace. A lot of things haven't gotten up here yet."
Royal himself was totally amazed at the excitement around his own campus earlier. The University of Texas is a vast place with an enrollment of 35,000, and it is becoming sort of a Berkeley in a lot of ways. But more than half of them turned out for a Wednesday pep rally in Memorial Stadium at which the squad members and coaches were loaded into convertibles and driven around the track while the crowd roared for its No. 1 team and the big band played The Eyes of Texas over and over.
Compounding the madness, of course, was the President's visit. Among other things this meant that Arkansas had to scare up some room in its picturesque if rickety old stadium that would sway with only 44,000. Fifty White House press-corps members had to have seats, each supplied with a telephone.
And the President and his party had to have 40 good ones. Arkansas fans volunteered them and took terrible tradeout seats in return, getting 14 from Royal, who said none of the Texas allotment was worth a damn anyway. Only 5,000 scats were given to Texas, and only 600 of those were for students, 288 of which would be for the Longhorn Band. This meant that for the biggest game in the Southwest in 34 years, or since the TCU-SMU game of 1935 which was played under more or less the same circumstances, only 312 actual real-life students out of the total enrollment at Austin could attend.
"It's just as well I'm not going." a Texas coed had said. "Arkansas is a hicky place. All they do is sell jelly and cider by the side of the road."
Darrell Royal had known better than that, if his Texas fans didn't. And he knew at the end that Arkansas played a little football, too, and had been just as good a team and had even outhit his Steers For most of the cold, dark afternoon. But he also knew that his Long-horns, laboring under as much duress as any No. 1 team ever had in such bizarre circumstances—with time running out, with a President watching, on alien ground, with very few friends about—had somehow survived.