Razorback football at the Hall of Fame

It’s a smart move for a coalition of business and civic leaders in Little Rock and North Little Rock to have a full week of activities leading up to the first of two University of Arkansas football games this season at War Memorial Stadium.

The days when people in central Arkansas could take for granted that Razorback games would always be played here are long gone.

Had the War Memorial Stadium Commission not made massive improvements to the stadium during the past decade, I would be the first to tell you that the games were taken for granted and the powers that be in central Arkansas had no one to blame but themselves as all home games headed for the hills.

Instead, there were millions of dollars invested in improvements, capped by the $7.3 million press box that was discussed in a previous post.

Now, for a second year, RazorRock activities will lead up to the September nonconference game. And rather than just one week during football season, the RazorRock team is positioning itself to spring into action each time a Razorback team — football, basketball or baseball — plays in central Arkansas.

Those of us associated with the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame figured we should be a part of these activities. So on Wednesday at noon, the Hall of Fame will host a panel discussion featuring former Razorback football players Anthony Lucas, Clint Stoerner and Kevin Scanlon.

I hope to see many of you there.

Ray Tucker, the executive director of the Hall of Fame, will moderate the discussion.

Admission is free, and there’s plenty of free parking. We’re billing it as a brown-bag luncheon, so bring your lunch with you. The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame is on the west side of Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. It’s a nice facility. If you haven’t toured the museum, you need to do so.

The discussion should be fun.

Kevin Scanlon, who has long been employed by Stephens Inc., followed Coach Lou Holtz from North Carolina State to Arkansas (Coach Holtz had a short stop in between with the New York Jets). Kevin started at quarterback his senior season in 1979, leading the Razorbacks to a 10-2 record, a No. 6 national ranking and a berth in the Sugar Bowl against Bear Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide.

That was my first of several Sugar Bowls to cover as a sportswriter, and I watched Alabama win its second consecutive national championship with a victory over the Hogs on Jan. 1, 1980. Bringing in the new decade in the French Quarter the previous evening was quite fun.

Kevin set the Arkansas single-season pass accuracy record as a senior (66.2 percent), was named the most valuable player on the team and was selected to play in the Japan Bowl all-star game. At a postseason banquet, Holtz called Kevin “the best quarterback I ever coached.”

As a high school player at Beaver Falls, Pa., Kevin broke almost all of the records that had been set by Joe Namath. Kevin and Broadway Joe both are members of the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame in a county that has as much sports tradition as any county in the country.

After freshman and sophomore seasons at Quigley Catholic High School, Kevin played two seasons under famed Beaver Falls Tigers Coach Larry Bruno, who had coached Namath. Bruno had a record of 134-52-9 in two decades as the head coach at Beaver Falls. Kevin was a high school All-American his senior season in 1974. He finished as the school’s all-time leader in passing yards (3,515) and touchdown passes (33). He completed 67 percent of his passes as a high school senior.

Meanwhile, Razorback fans will long remember Stoerner and Lucas for what happened on a November afternoon in Fayetteville in 1999. With 3:44 left in the game, Lucas split two defenders to bring in a 23-yard touchdown pass and lead Arkansas to a 28-24 victory over No. 3 Tennessee, the defending national champion. Arkansas fans rushed the field at the end of the game and carried the goal posts to Dickson Street.

Anthony, a 6-3 receiver from Tallulah, La., and one of the finest people I know, had enrolled at Arkansas in the fall of 1994 as a part-time student. His ACT score didn’t meet the requirements to be eligible that first season, but he worked hard and joined the football team in the spring of 1995. He posted what was then a freshman record of 27 catches for 526 yards and four touchdowns as Arkansas won the Southeastern Conference Western Division.

In the 1996 season opener, however, Anthony suffered a season-ending injury. After a medical hardship ruling, he returned as a sophomore in 1997 and finished the year with 27 catches for 495 yards and four touchdowns. In 1998, he had 43 receptions for a school record 1,004 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.

Anthony was a preseason All-American coming into his senior season. He had 37 receptions for 822 yards and four touchdowns. That performance earned him first-team All-SEC recognition and third-team All-American recognition. Anthony finished his Razorback career with 2,879 receiving yards, 137 catches and 23 touchdowns.

Anthony has stayed involved in sports, directing Life CHAMPS youth sports in Little Rock and helping coordinate the D1 Little Rock sports training and therapy center.

Clint, a product of Baytown, Texas, set UA records for most pass attempts in a game (52 against Alabama in 1999), most pass attempts in a season (357 in 1997), most career pass attempts (1,023), most career pass completions (528), most passing yards in a game (387 against LSU in 1997), most passing yards in a season (2,629 in 1998), most touchdown passes in a season (26 in 1998), most career touchdown passes (57) and most consecutive passes without an interception (134).

Now, we’re watching Ryan Mallett break those records.

After his famous pass to beat Tennessee in 1999 (Clint was 18 of 28 passing that day for 228 yards and three touchdowns), he led the Hogs to a 27-6 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas on Jan. 1, 2000. Clint played for five years in the NFL, with four of those seasons spent at Dallas. He started two games for the Cowboys in 2001. He also played two seasons in NFL Europe and several seasons in the Arena Football League.

The event should be fun. I hope to see you at the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame at noon Wednesday. We’ll be finished by 1 p.m.

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