1978-94 Razorbacks
(Authentic Reproduction)





Having played the season with a number of injuries, Coach Holtz believed his squad would be close to full strength for the Orange Bowl game against the second ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Even without G Leotis Harris, the staff was comfortable with its chances but before leaving for Miami, Holtz dismissed three players from the squad for a violation of team standards of conduct. He then stood his ground in the face of a threatened lawsuit by the players, and was hailed as a disciplinarian. That one of the players was his key offensive weapon placed the already underappreciated Hogs as even bigger underdogs to powerful OU. So great was the perceived disadvantage that the bookies took the game off the boards. Holtz used this too for motivation and the team was roused to a huge effort. RB Roland Sales was inspired to rush for 205 yards, burying any Sooners title hopes with a 31-6 thrashing that left Oklahoma ranked as number six and the mighty Razorbacks as the number three team in the nation. The Razorbacks took the field in their usual red helmets with the iconic Razorback decal on the sides, but now had beautiful contrasting white face masks, a style they maintained for many seasons. Holtz shared a number of Coach Of The Year Awards with former Hog and Texas coach Fred Akers.


As the 1978 pre-season favorites for the National Championship, losing to conference rivals Texas and Houston and going 9-2 was a downer. Eckwood returned after missing ’77 with injury and helped Ben Cowins become the school’s all time rushing leader with 3570 yards and sixteen 100-yard games, records that stood until broken by Darren McFadin. Eckwood then went on to the Tampa Bay Bucs for three seasons. Calcagni led the attack and went on to a successful career as a CFL quarterback, college assistant, XFL coordinator, and was named as the head coach for the Arkansas entry to the proposed All American Football League. Hampton completed a storied All American career and became a star in the NFL after recording eighteen sacks in ’78. The Razorbacks finished the season with a 10-all tie with UCLA in the Fiesta Bowl as Holtz spurned coaching offers from other schools. Unfortunately a number of his better assistants departed. 




One of the more unlikely success stories for Arkansas, Dan Hampton was perhaps the largest member of the Jacksonville, Arkansas High School band at 6’3”, 230 pounds. His focus was the saxophone and guitar after being in a wheelchair for six months following a thirty foot fall from a tree at the age of twelve. With metal pins and plates holding a number of bones together, sports were just a daydream until his junior year when he was a lanky but effective lineman. At Arkansas he matured into a 6’5”, 260 pound terror, a four year letterman, three year starter, and an All American as a senior, reflecting the eighteen sacks and ninety-eight tackles he accumulated from his defensive tackle position. As the SWC Defensive Player Of The Year and member of Arkansas’ All Century Team, he was an easy first round draft choice of the Bears and his success continued. In twelve seasons Hampton put up eighty-two sacks, was named All Pro six times at both defensive end and tackle, was named to the NFL All Decade Team of The Eighties, and overcame the disability of ten knee surgeries to become a member of The Pro Football Hall Of Fame. The feared catalyst of the Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl champions, he was nicknamed “Danimal” for his ability to destroy double team blocks.


There were holes to fill in ‘79, especially at quarterback and on the defensive line where Hampton had marvelously occupied his space for four seasons. Kevin Scanlon had broken all of Joe Namath’s records at Beaver Falls, PA. High School, transferred from NC State and in his Arkansas debut led the SWC in passing as its All Conference QB. Receiver Robert Farrell joined him on the All SWC squad with tackle Greg Kolenda and Holtz watched his surprising squad mow down everyone except Houston. The 13-10 loss left the Cougars as SWC champs and sent the 10-1 Hogs to the Sugar Bowl where they would try to prevent Alabama from completing their second consecutive undefeated season. Even with fine play from All SWC safety Kevin Evans it was a 24-9 loss but Holtz had delivered thirty victories in his first three years on campus. If Holtz’s first three years in Fayetteville were glorious, they were matched by the perceptible slide backwards starting in 1980, towards the rest of the pack in his final four seasons. There were more inopportune losses, untimely upsets by inferior teams, fewer stars on the field, and to the statewide system of boosters, too much time “away from the office.” Certainly there were too many bad jokes about Arkansas and its residents. Some back-handed humor was acceptable when the team was winning big and fighting for the conference title but trips to the Hall Of Fame Classic and the Bluebonnet Bowl were not going to counter what many believed to be insults from the most visible representative of their state. Holtz was a frequent television guest and public speaker, usually peppering his patter with jokes that bespoke of Arkansas’ rural and generally negative national perception. The final straw for many came when he first spoke out publicly in support of President Reagan and his friend from North Carolina, the right wing Senator Jesse Helms. Then in violation of University rules, he completed two television commercials, in his Arkansas head coach’s office, in support of Helms candidacy. Although Holtz officially resigned shortly after this, public feeling was that he was forced out and immediately after the 1983 season, he took the head coaching job at Minnesota, hardly a step up. One of the constant murmurs from Holtz detractors was that he could not and did not recruit effectively. The better players had been brought in by a few assistants, most of whom left the staff after a short period of time and most who were not part of the staff in the last year or two. Although 1982 brought a 9-2-1 mark and a victory over Florida in the Bluebonnet Bowl, Arkansas wasn’t a feared SWC team and many in-state believed Holtz could not win without the players first brought to campus by Broyles. Certainly there were outstanding players. Steve Korte was reputed to be one of the strongest players in the nation, an All American and he had a good career with the Saints at center and guard from ’83 through 1989. Gary Anderson was a super running back, enjoying success with the USFL and with the Chargers and Bucs. DE Ron Faurot did not have much pro success but was the Jets number one draft choice in 1984. One of Arkansas’ greatest players, Billy Ray Smith, Jr. the son of former Hogs great of the same name who starred for the Baltimore Colts, was an All American, an entrant to The College Football Hall Of Fame, and the Chargers first round pick who played well for ten seasons before becoming a television analyst yet he was not so much recruited by Holtz as he was born to become a Razorback. By the time the Holtz era ended, Arkansas would turn to a former Broyles’ player, Ken Hatfield to take the reins and although there were some rocky times to the present, Arkansas has remained a power, not only on the national scene but in the Southeast Conference which it joined in 1992.

If interested in any of these Razorback helmets please click on the photos below.