Side note from Clay's "Top 10" column

I’m breaking this off into a different thread so I won’t “hijack” the top 10 talk. Just a little something I noticed in his column.

Clay, this is not intended to be, in any way, critical. But I thought your comment about “LSU ended a 22-game UA winning streak, 14-7, in the 1966 Cotton Bowl when the Hogs could have won a version of their second straight national title.” was an interesting way to phrase it. Of course, you’re absolutely right in that ANY National Championship prior to the BCS era was mythical, as they used to often say. Even Texas’ unanimous National Champions of 1963 were mythical Champions, even though they were the only undefeated/untied team, won ALL of the NC awards and dispatched Roger Staubach’s #2 ranked Navy team 27-6 in the Cotton Bowl. There was NO “official” Champions in those days.

But had we won the 1966 Cotton Bowl against LSU, we’d have undoubtedly not only won “a version” of the National Championships - we would certainly have won all of the polls/awards that year, just as Texas did in 1963. Why? Because (as I know you are fully aware of) Arkansas would have been the only remaining “Power 5” (such as it existed in those days) team that was undefeated and untied. We went into the Bowl games ranked #2 in both the AP and UPI polls, one of 3 undefeated/untied teams that year. However, all three (Nebraska and Michigan State were the others) were upset in their respective Bowls, allowing (who else?) Alabama to slingshot over all 3, even though the Tide’s 9-1-1 record was still not as good as the 10-1 record sported by Arkansas, Michigan State and Nebraska. Not to mention, it would have been Arkansas’ 23rd consecutive win.

“A version” of the National Championship was what we won in 1964, though all of us who were around then know it should have been unanimous. Same reason - Hogs were the only remaining undefeated/untied team after the Bowl games. AND, that year, the Hogs had given those Longhorns, who were attempting to defend their consensus National Championship from 1963, their only loss of the season, in Austin. And then, of course, it was those same Longhorns who defeated Alabama - the only team ranked ahead of Arkansas going into the post-season - in the Orange Bowl. And it would have been unanimous - the ONLY reason it wasn’t is that the AP and UPI, still kowtowing to Notre Dame (who didn’t play in Bowl games for decades) didn’t hold a vote after the Bowls yet. As we also know, the failure of the AP and UPI to name the obvious Champions was the final straw that FINALLY broke the polls down and literally forced them to change that policy. Interesting “coincidence”, by the way, that Notre Dame ditched their “no Bowl” policy just 4 years later, when they had the chance to play #1 Texas (might have been us, had we won the Big Shootout) in the Cotton Bowl. So much for their “Holier than Thou” academic standards!

By the way, speaking of our 22 game winning streak…I’ll never think of that Cotton Bowl game that I don’t also remember the LSU running back - Joe LaBruzzo - who seemingly ran through us all day in their 14-7 win. In those days, stiffling defense was our trademark, and no one ran on us like that guy did.

Coach Broyles used to speak about his “charmed life” in Arkansas. Well, I began my Razorback fandom in “charmed” fashion. Living in far West Texas as a boy, I wasn’t exposed to the Razorbacks quite as soon as those who lived in Arkansas. I was aware that Dad followed them, but hardly any games were on TV, none were close enough for us to attend in person, and I spent all day outside playing football with my friends back then. So it wasn’t until 1964, the first year I played on an organized team, that I really got interested in listening to/watching Arkansas football games with Dad.

That was, obviously, a great ride for the next two years. The Hogs were undefeated and in the top 10 - mostly, top 5 - ALL of that time. And we never lost! That is, until that Cotton Bowl game. So, Labruzzo became the first (the list is very long now) of “hated” enemies among players we faced. With the advent of the internet, I did a little research a few years back to see what happened to him. Sadly, I found out that he had died by his own hand.

I looked up the stats for that game. Labruzzo rushed for 69 yards and scored both LSU touchdowns. We outgained LSU substantially but a Ronny South fumble set up Labruzzo’s deciding TD in the second quarter. Both teams missed field goals, and the game ended with the Hogs on the LSU 24. Oh for a two-minute offense…

Yeah, I knew he didn’t really have what you would call impressive stats in the game; it just seemed like later in the game, every time they needed a first down to run clock and keep the ball away from us, he carried and they converted. And, as you mentioned, he scored both TD’s. In those days, teams just didn’t score much against the Hogs.

South was in the game because Jon Brittenum - the “Quarterbackin’ Man” - had suffered a separated shoulder in the first half. Had he stayed healthy (I don’t remember him ever being injured in his entire career), I think we win the game (and National Championship) easily.

Brittenum did come back in the game and directed the drive that reached the 24 before the clock ran out.

Interesting the twists life takes. You mentioned Labruzzo did himself in. Brittenum became a Little Rock “bond daddy” and eventually earned himself a stay in federal prison, IIRC.