Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tulsa Time

"Livin' on Tulsa time
Livin' on Tulsa time
Gonna set my watch back to it
Cause you know I've been through it
Livin' on Tulsa time."

Originally recorded by Don Williams
(Written by Danny Flowers)

When I was growing up in Arkansas, the University of Tulsa was a regular on the University of Arkansas' football schedule.

The series was a natural. The campuses were a short distance from each other, separated only by a state line, some mountainous terrain and about 100 miles of highway. Students from either school could be on the other campus within a couple of hours — depending on the weather and the traffic.

It never really became the rivalry the administrators of the two schools seem to have believed it could be, even though there were some great games between the two schools when I was growing up.

In those pre-cable days, there were strict limitations on how many appearances a team could make on television during the regular season. I can't recall a single time in my school years when the Arkansas-Tulsa game was televised, but I remember listening to nearly all of the games on the radio.

Bud Campbell was the "Voice of the Razorbacks," and he was the one who described the action in all the games I listened to until his tragic death in an auto accident in 1974. If my memory serves me correctly, Campbell's final Razorback broadcast was the Tulsa game.
  • In 1966, the year I enrolled in first grade and started following college football, Arkansas beat Tulsa, 27-8.

  • In 1967, Tulsa slipped past Arkansas, 14-12.
During the next three seasons, the Razorbacks were overwhelming.
  • In 1968, Arkansas hammered Tulsa, 56-13.

  • In 1969, Arkansas was en route to its legendary #1 vs. #2 "shootout" with Texas at the end of the season. When the Razorbacks faced Tulsa in September, it was no contest as the Hogs rolled to a 55-0 win.

  • In 1970, Arkansas demolished Tulsa, 49-7.
  • in 1971, Tulsa enjoyed a rare victory over Arkansas, 21-20.

  • In 1972, the Razorbacks returned the favor by beating Tulsa, 21-20.

  • Typically, Arkansas and Tulsa have played in September. But in 1973, they met in Little Rock in late October. As the rest of the country coped with Vice President Agnew's resignation and the constitutional crisis known in the history books as the "Saturday Night Massacre," Arkansas emerged with a 20-6 win.

  • 1974 wasn't the best season in Arkansas' history, but the Razorbacks manhandled Tulsa, 60-0.

  • In 1975, when the Razorbacks finished on top of the Southwest Conference for the final time under Frank Broyles, the Razorbacks defeated Tulsa that September, 31-15.

  • The next year, Tulsa won a memorable battle of kickers, nailing three short field goals to one long one for Arkansas in a 9-3 triumph.

  • In 1977, Lou Holtz's first year in Fayetteville, Arkansas' only loss was to Earl Campbell and the Texas Longhorns. A few weeks before that game, the Razorbacks crushed Tulsa, 37-3.
The schools continued to play each other through my college years and for nearly 10 years after that.

But the series appears to have died off around the time Arkansas left the old SWC and joined the Southeastern Conference in the early 1990s.

Arkansas put some good teams on the field when I was a boy, and the Arkansas-Tulsa game often featured a nationally ranked unit.

But, in all the years that I was growing up and listening to Arkansas-Tulsa games on the radio, if either team was ranked, it was Arkansas.

When the teams face each other this weekend, Tulsa will be the one that enters the game unbeaten and ranked.

Tulsa is 18th in the nation.

The Tulsa game with UCF was televised this evening, and I watched part of it to get an idea of what the Razorbacks will be up against.

My conclusion? They're going to have their hands full.

I'm not saying that I don't think the young Razorbacks haven't learned a lot already this season. They're 3-5, but what a lot of people tend to forget is that three of the teams that beat them are in the Top 10 (including the top two teams, Texas and Alabama).

Even so, there are lessons yet to be learned for this Arkansas team, and it's Tulsa's time to teach.

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