Clay Henry remembers Mike Bender … ks-humor-/

I wish I could find a picture of Mike Bender as a player. Of course, it would be in black and white and probably would not do him justice. He was a dashing young man as a player. I was more interested in looking at Tommy Trantham’s girl friend across the street. But my mom loved it when Mike Bender was around.

I remember one play by Bender really made a difference in 1964. On Ken Hatfield’s punt return that beat defending national champions Texas, Bender knocked down two Longhorns, and forced a third one out of position as Hatfield ran by. Gosh, we had great tackles that year, on offence and defense. Glen Ray Hines, Jim Williams, Lloyd Phillips, helped out a little by guard Jerry Jones.

That was in an era when you won with tackles. Most of the yardage came in battles up front. There was not that much passing. How you fared was determined by the tackles – on both sides of the ball. All of those got a chance at the NFL until injuries got them. I’ve gotten to know most of those guys pretty well through the years. Jerry Welch, who played guard, was head coach at Little Rock Central when I was in high school. I didn’t play football. I played basketball and golf, but Coach Welch was always quick to pull me aside and talk about my family. He knew everyone in my family, my parents and my brothers.

I’ve gotten to know Jim Williams over the last 10 years. Had several nice visits with Jim.

As far as Loyd Phillips, I was fortunate to be around him while my daughters were growing up in Rogers. He was vice principal at Rogers High. One of the neat things, Becca, our youngest, was student body president and Loyd worked closely with her on many projects. Sarah had the good fortune to be pulled out of study hall as a junior and senior to help in the office. Loyd told her, “I know your grand daddy, so I think you probably have good genes. We’ll put you to work in my office.” And, he did.

I’ve told this story before, but it’s worth repeating. Sarah was going to a college show case soccer tournament late in her junior year with her club team, the Comets. She would have to miss a couple of days of class in January. The tournament was in Austin, and was going to be played on fields at two colleges, neither of which was University of Texas.

Sarah’s high school coach at Rogers told her that it shouldn’t count against her in school, since you were allowed two college recruiting trips to miss class. So she had to fill out paperwork so that her absences wouldn’t count.

It was really an appropriate excuse, but she didn’t know how to fill out the paperwork based on the forms. There was no place to put College Showcase or indicate the number of coaches she would be in front of (and that totaled about 250).

So she filled it out as a recruiting visit to the University of Texas. Texas was not ever going to recruit her. She was not on that level.

That paperwork landed on Loyd’s desk. She was called to his office. The question from Loyd, “I don’t think your grandfather would approve of this. Have you told him you are visiting the University of Texas?” You have to remember that Loyd played in a rage the three times he went against Texas. Arkansas won all three.

Sarah threw herself on Loyd’s mercy. She explained the entire scenario. He smiled and signed the paperwork. There really wasn’t a problem in his eyes, unless she was considering Texas.

Loyd and I have talked about that many times. He said he knew before he brought Sarah in exactly what was going on and he didn’t mind. He just wanted her to make sure that she understood that visiting the University of Texas was not an option.

It is a treat to be around any of these guys. Loyd worked with my wife, Jean Ann, when she taught in Rogers. And, he always asks, “How is Jean Ann, Becca and Sarah.” He did this week when we talked.

Clay, wasn’t 1964 the first year of platoon football? I think iron man football was still played in 1963, and the changes in substitution rules really benefited UA, letting us get a lot of well-rested talent onto the field.

It’s weird what rule changes can do. I remember when rules allowed a player to run from the sidelines, into the huddle, and back off the field before the snap. We had a back-up QB running in, calling the play, and running off.