…it’s football season. A month ago, I could recite the baseball standings. At this point, I could care less. Oh, I care, and I’ll care more when we get to the DS and CS phase of the playoffs, and of course I’ll be glued to the World Series come October---but who’s leading the NL Central right now? Clueless! Why?
BECAUSE IT’S FOOTBALL SEASON!!!
When I lived in Tennessee, before Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference, I went to a lot of Tennessee football games in Knoxville. If you’ve never been, it’s a real experience---the quintessential SEC/College Football experience. Crisp, cool Saturdays, with a sky so blue you can see Jupiter; the leaves in a million shades of red, orange, yellow; the cute co-eds (I’m old, I can use the term “co-eds” if I want) in their snug sweaters and leather boots; the Band marching in; Neyland Stadium; the Tennessee Navy in full force---it’s great fun.
Neyland in 2002
For years, their stadium announcer was a man named Bobby Denton (I have no idea if he’s even still living). Vols fans (I was dating one and friends with many) anxiously looked forward to the first game of the season, and couldn’t wait to hear him key the mike.
He’d key the mike and cry, “Ladies and Gentlemen, IT’S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!!”
I think of that every year at this time of year; IT’S FOOTBALL TIME!!!!
It’s still hot as a two dollar pistol in Houston, but it’s really getting to be football time; the worm has just turned (and the question might be, how many more clichés can Nick work into one blog post?).
It’s FOOTBALL TIME! Can you feel it?!
Paul, a native of Iowa, was a sports reporter by trade. He started announcing games on the radio, then “graduated” to television; he was the “Voice of the Commodores” for Vanderbilt in Nashville in the 70’s before coming to Arkansas.
For the last several decades of his life, Paul was the “Voice of the Razorbacks”, broadcasting the games and hosting the Coach’s show. He didn’t always get the play by play right (reminds me of me in that), but what he may have lacked in pristine accuracy he more than made up with enthusiasm.
Paul was one of the classiest individuals I’ve ever met, and, like everyone else who knew him, I am far richer for having known him. A true Gentleman, in the highest, best sense of that word.
How did you know it was football time in Arkansas? When you heard Paul Eells, more excited at every yard, hollering, “He’s at the 40! the 30! the 20! the 10….TOUCHDOWN, ARKANSAS!!!! OH, MY!!!! WHAT A PLAY!!!!”
(In the “Miracle on Markham” segment, I was sitting on the 30 yard line, 4th row, in the picture as the ball whizzed past).
So many great memories. Orville Henry. Paul Eells. Frank Broyles. It’s my honour to have known those men. I grew up reading Orville’s column; I was proud to count him as my personal friend as an adult. Listened to Paul for years; got to know him through WebHogs. Coach Broyles (he will always be “Coach” Broyles to me) may have made some bad moves later in life, but I’ll always see him, shirttail flapping, on the sidelines urging Freddie Marshall or Ronnie Caveness or the Burnetts or Bill Montgomery or Joe Ferguson on to greatness.
Coach Broyles and yours truly, on the field at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium
As we go on this football season, I’m going to visit some old memories…great games, great moments, amazing trips, stupid trips, wonderful friends… as well as hopefully some new ones.
I just can’t wait! IT’S FOOTBALL TIME!!!!!!!
Ok, one more clip. Click it if you dare ;-)
8/26/09, 3:20 PM
AND a PostScript:
A friend sent pictures of the interior of the "improved" Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, and I was sneaking a peek from work. I have a Sirius Satellite Radio boombox in my office, set to "Sirius XM Pops", soft background music. As I flipped through the pictures, the song that came up on the radio was the WILLIAM TELL OVERTURE. It was all I could do to keep from jumping up and doing the "gallop"! (fortunately for my co-workers, decorum held sway). (But, I have done the "gallop" along with Rick Bawiec and 2 other "full figure" boys in the stadium, and it was indeed a "sight", one which the nearby onlookers will not soon forget. Fortunately for the onlookers, there were no sharp sticks available, so their eyes are still intact.....).