Remembering Ronnie Underwood

Underwood was one of the 25 Little Pigs for Bowden Wyatt in 1954 and later had a long career as a college football official. He threw a critical flag in one of Arkansas’ biggest wins of the '80s, at Texas A&M in 1989.

Bob Holt submitted this story on Underwood, with thoughts from Eddie Bradford, Ken Hatfield and Harold Horton. … ial-dies-/

I remember that call very well. The Aggie climbed Winston’s back. It would have been a foul in basketball and it was clear PI in football.

That was Texas A&M’s last loss in College Station until 1995. It was 35-0-1 in its next 36 games.

I went down to College Station for that game with my parents - one of only two times I watched an Arkansas game in person with the two of them. So, it’s a special memory for me.

I remember that play well. I could see that there was contact before the ball got there and started clapping my hands and saying “interference - first down Hogs!”. But then, for a scary second or two (seemed longer) - no flags! An Aggie fan sitting right behind me said in a mocking voice “Interference! Interference! Interference, My *ss!”. And I was afraid they weren’t going to call it. Then, Underwood (I didn’t know who it was at the time) ran in and threw the flag.

As you can imagine, none of the Aggie fans (we were surrounded by them) agreed with the call. I don’t believe Kyle Field had a replay screen 30 years ago - don’t recall seeing a playback in the stadium. But I had the trusty VCR going at home and when we got back - it was a nice, fun ride back to DFW - I fast-forwarded to that play and confirmed that the defender made contact with Winston while the ball was still at least 5 feet from his hands. Not what I’d call a “flagrant” PI call, but a clear and correctly called one for sure.

Glad RU had the guts to make the right call, even though he had to know he’d take some heat for it, under the circumstances. May he RIP.

We had to fight those Texas refs the whole time we were in the SWC.

The review of calls in the games today is a pain, but it makes it much fairer. We don’t get hosed nearly as often as we used to.

Before reviews, we were getting abused by the refs against SEC competition even at home.

Home cooking’ has never occurred for Arkansas. That is an Alabama Crimson Tide dish served every Saturday.

I can only think of about three Razorback football games since the mid-1970’s that I either didn’t listen to on the radio, see in person or watch on TV, at least in part. That A&M game was one of them. I was in Europe with my wife BC (Before Children). I bought a copy of the International Herald-Tribune in the Munich airport solely to find out the score. There was one graph in a Top 25 Roundup (or was it the Top 20 in those days?) with virtually no details except the score and the winning touchdown play. Can’t remember if we called the Hogs when we found out. Probably.

While what you say is true, the call under discussion (PI) is not a reviewable call. So, even with today’s with HD video review capability - had Underwood not made the call, we’d have been hosed.

Here’s the play. There really was minimal delay before Underwood threw the flag; you see a lot of PI calls that take longer to make.


Note: I’ve discovered that if you want to pick out one moment in a long YouTube video, right-click and select “Copy video URL at present time”.

For whatever reason, that function does work as an embed here. Fast forward to the 8:20 mark for the play.

Interesting. Yes, it’s at the 8:20 mark. A better replay would have helped but you can see Larry Horton going over Winston’s back.

I finagled press box passes to see that game for myself and my girlfriend/future wife and we drove up from Houston. The Kyle Field press box was so well soundproofed you could barely hear the crowd screaming even at its loudest and the “no cheering in the press box” rule was strictly (self-)enforced by the media. I remember that play, and my relief at the flag, but more vividly recall at the end of the game, excitedly whispering to my GF: “We’re going to the Cotton Bowl! We’re going to the Cotton Bowl!”