Advertisement

COLLEGE FOOTBALL / GENE WOJCIECHOWSKI : Arkansas’ Broyles Bears Down Early, Boots Coach Crowe

Oh, how we long for the days when Frank Broyles was confined to an ABC television booth on Saturday afternoons and his impact on college football was limited to breathless and inane pronouncements such as, “Gracious sakes alive! Keith, I have nevuh . . . evuh . . . seen an ath-a-lete get around a defensive end so quickly.”

Now look at him. In one frightening, precedent-setting move Sunday, the ultra-competitive Broyles fired Razorback Coach Jack Crowe less than 24 hours after a shocking 10-3 loss to The Citadel, a Division I-AA school. The official statement said that Crowe resigned, but anyone familiar with Broyles’ tenure as Arkansas athletic director knows better than to believe that little piece of fiction.

Crowe, handpicked by Broyles in 1990 and whose career was only 24 games old, was canned, pure and simple. Put whatever spin you’d like on it, but that’s the bottom line. Broyles didn’t want him anymore, so off Crowe went, the remaining five seasons of his contract--base salary of $84,000--conveniently assumed by the Razorback Foundation, the school’s powerful booster club.

Granted, Crowe was no Bear Bryant. His 9-15 record earned few supporters at a program where Broyles once won a national championship and seven Southwest Conference titles, where Lou Holtz led the Razorbacks to six bowl games in seven years and where Ken Hatfield averaged nine victories and a bowl appearance in each of his six seasons at Fayetteville.

Advertisement

But Crowe deserved something better than a pink slip and a shove down Broyles’ trap door. Like Holtz and Hatfield before him, Crowe discovered that Broyles is no easy man to please. Remember, Holtz left in 1984 partly because of Broyles’ iron fist. The same goes for Hatfield, who bolted for Clemson in 1990 partly because his relationship with Broyles had deteriorated beyond repair.

In announcing Crowe’s “resignation,” Broyles said the change was made “to give the new coach a full season to accomplish his goals.” How interesting. Wouldn’t it have been nice to give the former coach a full season to do the same thing?

*

Broyles bumbling, Part II: Crowe had recently installed a one-back offense. The Razorbacks were also beginning their first full season in the Southeastern Conference, coming off a 6-6 record and predicted to possibly squeeze into the top 25 by year’s end.

Advertisement

Of course, nobody expected The Citadel to travel to Arkansas and hand the Razorbacks their first on-campus opening-season loss in 46 years. Truth is, The Citadel shouldn’t have even been on Arkansas’ schedule. Miami was the original opponent, but that changed when the Razorbacks joined the SEC and decided they needed to soften their load. Miami was replaced with the Bulldogs, who, despite their I-AA status, have a knack of upsetting their Division I-A counterparts (five victories in their last six tries).

The irony: Had the No. 1-ranked Hurricanes remained on the schedule and beaten Arkansas, nobody would have said a peep and Crowe would still have a job.

*

The reaction: “It saddens me that college football has reached the point, much like the professional ranks, where a coach can be dismissed after a devastating loss,” said Colorado Coach Bill McCartney. “When you reach that point, you’ve really got to rethink the thing.”

McCartney speaks from experience. Hired in 1982, McCartney finished 2-8, 4-7 and 1-10 during his first three seasons. Broyles probably would have fired him. Colorado didn’t and was rewarded with a national championship in 1990.

“I know Jack Crowe and I just think he’s a tremendous guy,” McCartney said. “I hurt personally over this.”

So should Broyles. Instead, he jettisoned Crowe with little regard to the message it sent: One upset and you’re gone.

And rather than rubber-stamp Broyles’ decision, maybe Arkansas Chancellor Daniel Ferritor should have stepped in and sent his own message, that a seven-point loss, no matter the opponent, isn’t grounds for dismissal. Not when an entire season remains. Not when the coach has had only two years to prove himself. Not when Broyles is the one pushing the ejection button.

Advertisement

Or as Missouri Coach Bob Stull said of the forced resignation: “I wouldn’t think that would help the team much.”

*

The SWC is laying low these days, what with the opening-day performances of seven of its eight members.

With the exception of seventh-ranked Texas A&M;, everyone in the league enters Saturday’s games 0-1, which certainly must thrill the fellas wearing those green polyester Cotton Bowl blazers. If the Aggies falter, the Cotton Bowl is stuck with one of these stiffs.

No defeat stung more than the one Mississippi State inflicted on Texas, which is celebrating its 100th year of football and features new coach John Mackovic. Mackovic, barring some unforeseen circumstance (such as the hiring of Broyles as Texas athletic director), will eventually restore the Longhorn program to its usual place in the polls. But until then, he has to listen to Mississippi State Coach Jackie Sherrill, whose Bulldogs beat Texas in Austin last Saturday and extended Sherrill’s win streak against the Longhorns to seven.

Sherrill, before the game: “I don’t beat Texas, players beat Texas.”

Sherrill, after the game: “I’m 7-0 against them and I’m willing to be happy with that. I don’t have to prove that I can beat them any more. I can retire now.”

Texas probably wishes he would.

Advertisement

*

Duke Coach Barry Wilson needs to wake up and smell the national rankings. When he does, he will realize how silly he sounded after complaining about Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden’s decision to leave starting quarterback Charlie Ward in last Saturday’s game, despite a 27-point Seminole lead.

Ward, also a guard on the nationally ranked Seminole basketball team, was making his first start for Bowden. He threw four touchdowns, passed for 269 yards, rushed for 84 yards, but also had four interceptions and a fumble. Ward needed playing minutes and Bowden, no matter the score, needed to give them. The reason? No. 5 Florida State, in a game that could determine the Atlantic Coast Conference champion and entry into the national championship picture, plays 15th-ranked Clemson at Death Valley Saturday.

*

Another 5-6 season isn’t out of the question for suddenly vulnerable Auburn, especially if Coach Pat Dye can’t revive the Tiger running game. Auburn rushed for minus 18 yards in 34 carries in a 45-21 opening-season loss to Mississippi.

So complete was the Rebel victory that linebacker Cassius Ware, who recorded 14 tackles and returned a fumble 91 yards for an Ole Miss score, said the level of play was only “a little notch higher,” than he was accustomed to.

Ware played at Northwest Mississippi Community College last season.

*

Auburn isn’t the only team with troubles. In-state rival Alabama finds itself deep in controversy after star receiver and kick returner David Palmer was arrested a second time for driving under the influence and Georgia defensive back Ralph Thompson accused Crimson Tide officials of offering him cash and a car during his recruitment.

Despite the fact that his interview with an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter was taped, Thompson later said his comments were misunderstood.

Georgia Coach Ray Goff called Stallings to apologize for Thompson’s charges and then announced the case closed. Not so fast, Ray. Expect a phone call from the NCAA soon.

As for Palmer, Stallings suspended him indefinitely.

*

“Happy Days” fans rejoice. The kicker for Southwestern Louisiana is named Richie Cunningham. Who’s the quarterback--Potsie? . . . Penn State, nearly upset last weekend by Cincinnati--the same team the Nittany Lions beat, 81-0, last year--must endure new indignities. Thanks to criminal charges filed against senior wide receivers O.J. McDuffie and Rick Sayles for their part in a downtown State College brawl last July, creative Penn State hecklers are now calling the school, “State Penn.” . . . So much for Ray Perkins’ triumphant return to college football. His Arkansas State team lost to Toledo, 49-0. . . . According to Colorado’s McCartney, his team faces two opponents when it travels to Waco, Tex., this weekend: Baylor and the weather. If McCartney’s reports are correct, it was 52 degrees when the Buffaloes beat Colorado State in their opener at Boulder. In Waco, it was 124 degrees on Baylor’s artificial turf.

*

There was a celebration for the ages after Oklahoma State, which finished 0-10-1 last season, beat Division I-AA opponent Indiana State last Saturday. “After what these kids had been through, you would have thought we’d won the Super Bowl,” said Cowboy Coach Pat Jones. . . . Perennial have-nots New Mexico, New Mexico State, Cal State Fullerton, Temple and Oklahoma State--combined 1991 record of 9-46-1--all won their opening games. . . . Arkansas’ opponent this week: South Carolina, the same team The Citadel beat in 1990. Rumored to be a candidate for the Razorback job, that is, if new Coach Joe Kines is dismissed at season’s end? Barry Switzer. Fred Akers’ name has also been mentioned. Our guesses: Akers, never. Switzer, an intriguing longshot. We wouldn’t be surprised if Broyles made a run at Kansas’ Glen Mason, Tennessee interim coach Phil Fulmer or Minnesota Viking defensive coordinator Tony Dungy. . . . Fulmer is taking Johnny Majors’ place while the longtime Volunteer coach recovers from heart surgery. And because Fulmer added former Volunteer quarterback Andy Kelly to the staff in Majors’ absence, bringing the number of assistants to the NCAA limit, Majors isn’t allowed to assist in game-day preparations. . . . San Diego State is an exciting team, but its manners were lacking after last Saturday’s tie with USC. Heisman Trophy candidate Marshall Faulk bolted out of the locker room without speaking with reporters. Nor did the school do itself proud when it refused to allow female reporters equal locker-room access.

Top 10

As selected by staff writer Gene Wojciechowski.

No. Team Record 1. Miami 1-0 2. Washington 1-0 3. Georgia 1-0 4. Notre Dame 1-0 5. Syracuse 1-0 6. Florida State 1-0 7. Oklahoma 1-0 8. Colorado 1-0 9. Nebraska 1-0 10. Texas A&M; 2-0

Waiting List: North Carolina State (2-0), Michigan (0-0), Florida (0-0), Mississippi State (1-0), California (1-0).


Advertisement