LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Controversy over how to commemorate the 35th
anniversary of the legendary 1969 Texas-Arkansas football game that
helped steer the Longhorns to a national championship has led
Arkansas officials to ignore it altogether.
Athletic director Frank Broyles said Tuesday that the
university, which is hosting Texas on Sept. 11, has decided to
"cancel all festivities relating to the anniversary" of the game
that's become known as "The Big Shootout."
Instead, Broyles said, at halftime the school will recognize the
1964 Razorback team that claims a disputed national championship.
"The Big Shootout" took place in Fayetteville 35 years ago in
arguably the most notable sporting event ever held on campus -- with
Billy Graham giving the invocation and President Nixon in the
stands. The teams were ranked first and second in the nation, and
Texas came from behind in the second half to win 15-14.
Broyles said any plans to honor participants in the 1969 game,
which he coached against Texas' Darrell Royal, were only in their
"There was much controversy developing, and that would be
unfair to the present players and coaches and fans, so we just
nipped it in the bud," he said in an interview.
Royal and Texas athletics director DeLoss Dodds did not
immediately return calls seeking comment.
It's the second landmark athletic event the University of
Arkansas will have ignored this year. The school did nothing to
honor the 1994 basketball team that won the NCAA Tournament. At the
time, former basketball coach Nolan Richardson's lawsuit against
the university was pending.
Arkansas-Texas once was one of the nation's premier rivalries,
with the Southwest Conference title often at stake. The teams quit
playing each other regularly when Arkansas defected to the
Southeastern Conference after the 1991 season.
The schools have played twice since Arkansas left the SWC, with
Arkansas winning both games -- 27-6 in the 2000 Cotton Bowl and
38-28 last year in Austin, Texas. No regular-season games are
scheduled after this year's.
The possibility of honoring the 1969 Texas players on Arkansas'
field has stirred emotions among the Razorback faithful, with some
callers to local talk radio shows threatening to withhold their
financial support of the athletic program if the graying Longhorns
step onto the Razorbacks' field.
Former Arkansas sports information director Rick Schaeffer said
it's hard to overestimate the emotion the game still stirs in the
"The wounds are still very deep. It was Arkansas' real moment
in the sun," Schaeffer said. "It was a humongous letdown."
Schaeffer said he's heard much talk among alumni about the
anniversary, and almost all of the opposition has to do with the
"If they have a way to commemorate the game, I don't think
anybody is opposed to that," he said. "What the opposition is, is
to honoring Texas. Who in Arkansas wants to honor Texas, especially
if it's your home game?"
Brittaney Wright, a student at the Fayetteville campus,
"It's a poor decision on Broyles' part," she said. "Why not
honor the legendary players from both teams? Since they are having
the game this year with Texas, it would have been a great game to
honor, since it was one of the games of the century."