A Look Inside "The Vault" (Insert Al Capone / Geraldo Joke here)


The only thing I could find on television this past weekend that was football related was a high scaled version of punt, pass, and kick on ESPN with this year's crop of draft prospects. I fear next weekend there will be even worse pickins. So I pulled out one of my favorite Christmas presents (thanks, Mom!) of this recent Christmas and started flipping back to some football memories. In the process, I thought why not write about what I've found so far inside the University of Arkansas's version of "The Vault." And for a moment, I hope this will take our minds off the Hogs' collapse in Tuscaloosa. Oh, I so wanted the streak to live another game longer! Alas, Tuscaloosa.

* I mistakenly thought at one time that "The Vault" was just an UofA thing, but, of course, no. You can find Texas, LSU, Florida, and many other versions out there. You can see just how many by checking out www.collegevaultbooks.com . But why would you want to look at any of the others, right? I guess somebody will buy them, haha.

* Rick Schaeffer was a natural choice to put this together for the UofA. The ghost of Orville Henry would be the only better choice that I can think of. You can make fun of Rick Schaeffer's circa 49 A.D. haircut and his pollyanna optimism, but the guy knows his Hog history.

* As is the trouble with any history book, and especially sports history, it is soon outdated by current events. The book ends with the hiring of Petrino. London Crawford, your big catch against LSU, and Alex Tejada, your kick to win the Liberty Bowl, well, you guys are going to have to wait for a new edition. And who knows when that might be?

* Frank Broyles introduces the book and writes, " I have no doubt that the next 50 years at Arkansas will exceed all of our expectations. I can't wait to see what the future holds." And is there any doubt that he'll see a good number of those 50 years? haha.

* It isn't surprising that the book concentrates much more on our victories. But I think more could have been written about the oh, so painful losses, that are just as much part of  Hog history as the wins. The 1969 game against Texas? Photographically, you could say it is hardly mentioned at all.

* The quality of the photography itself, however, is excellent throughout the book. Some wonderful images are inside. Especially neat are the images from the very early days of Razorback football, back in the pre-Hog era. But I do fault them for failing to put a picture of Decori Birmingham making his Miracle on Markham catch in there. And where is J.J. Meadors making his catch (yes, it was one!) for our first victory against Alabama? And why not a photo of Cobbs or Anthony Lucas in the 2000 Cotton Bowl? Stoerner to Lucas in the 1999 redemption game?

* What makes the book more of a vault than just a book are all the neat reproduction items tucked inside scrapbook style. Postcards, programs, tickets, stickers, articles from papers, oddly enough the funeral program for Fred Thomson. One problem though, the glue doesn't do a very good job of keeping it all tucked inside. But it does come with a slip case, so that helps to keep your vault all in place.

* Observation, why hasn't there been a similar book done on Arkansas basketball, you know, the sport that we won a National Championship in that is in recent memory.

* Do you know who was one of Arkansas's most frequent opponents during the early years? Fort Smith High School. Could you imagine if college teams played high school teams today?

* The book's chapters are divided up pretty much around either decades or the coach of the era. I was struck by just how well of a job old Granny Lou had done while here - 60 wins, 21 losses, and two ties from 1977 to 1983. The helmet car from that era is included in a photograph, and there is also a photo of a Lou Holtz doll. I think the book would have been incomplete without them.

* It would have been neat if they had included a page or two dedicated to all the big names in football that once coached or played at Razorback Stadium: Jerry Jones, Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson, Pat Summerall, Monte Kiffin, Pete Carroll . . .

* In 2022, we'll celebrate the 100th homecoming at the UofA. Our first homecoming opponent was SMU.

* This year will be the 100th anniversary of Arkansas's 51 to zip win over LSU in Little Rock. And guess what? LSU will be in Little Rock this year. What you say we call up the spirit of Steve Creekmore and put another half a hundred plus one on the Tigers?

* Can you imagine the Hogs going down to Baton Rouge and playing LSU and then the next day stopping off in Ruston to play Louisiana Tech? Well, they did just that in 1901 when travel limitations called for such feats of strength.

* Do you know what happened to Hugo Bezdek after he called us the Hogs? For a time he ended up at Penn State where he had two unbeaten seasons from 1918 to 1929. And while there, he started another college football tradition by giving birth to Joe Paterno, haha.

* One of my favorite things in the book is the succession of pictures over time of Razorback stadium. From splinter inducing stands to the 70,000 plus stadium that stands there today.

* If you don't count the one of Jim Lindsey, who writes the afterward, the last image in the book is of the Hogs running out in their all reds at the 2008 Cotton Bowl. You just want to tell them all to turn around, go back inside, and spare us all this soon to be humiliation. Couldn't they have found some other image besides that to go out on? But, hey, there is no denying that blowing bowl games is part of Razorback history as well as anything else.

I do recommend that you put it on your Christmas list, birthday list, shopping list, for the "The Vault" is certainly worth having in your Razorback collection. You might even want to tuck some blank pages in there for yourself and start chronicling the 50 years that Frank says will no doubt exceed your expectations. In the meantime, those proud owners of a copy, why don't you share with us what you like or don't like about "The Vault" in the comment section.

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