Before a capacity crowd in the ballroom of the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, David Bazzel formally kicked off the first meeting of the 2012 Little Rock Touchdown Club when he introduced ESPN analyst Mark May. May, a Pitt alum, former Pro Bowl offensive tackle, and two time Super Bowl champion with the Washington Redskins discussed college football, Arkansas, Cowboys hatred, and Penn State following a humurous story that entailed establishing dominance by intentionally hitting batters as a pitcher in little league games.
"This is America's greatest game," said May of the sport he spends hours on end discussing on Saturdays in the fall. "Every place you go in the country, everyone's connected in college football, one way or another...That's why I love college football so much better than the NFL, because the passion's there." May went on, and drove the point home that he "get's paid to watch and talk about college football!" After stories of angry run ins with senior citizens (co-host "Doctor" Lou Holtz, and angry Buckeye women in the airport) "Have you ever been threatened by a 73 year old man that he was gonna take you out in the parking lot and kick your ass?" May asked an entertained crowd . He then went on to discuss his expectations for our Razorbacks. Although he picked Alabama to defeat USC for the National Title, he hasn't ruled out an unlikely run for the Hogs.
"I think Arkansas has a tough road...you got the opportunity to get them both at home, Alabama and LSU...South Carolina on the road will be a challenge, but every other game, they should be favored in." Arkansas has an "open road" to the title if we can come away with those victories in Fayetteville. May went on to list Tyler Wilson in his top 10 quarterbacks and, like most Hog fans, would like to see Knile Davis see contact before the opener. He also commended Arkansas AD Jeff Long for the way the Bobby Petrino situation was handled. However, when asked about the future of the head coaching job, May explained that Arkansas had "created their own monster" stating that because of the success they've seen, they'll have to go and get the big name that may not be there. "It's gonna be tough to get that name, but if he's out there...[Jeff Long] is gonna be like a rabid dog and go get him."
Though most of May's speech was entertaining, funny and lighthearted, he did touch on some serious matters. May was asked his thoughts on the concussion lawsuit filed by ex players.
"I'm one of those players, and this is the reason why, I played with a bunch of concussions." He explained that if something were to happen to him down the road, he wants his family taken care of, with the result of this lawsuit. May also addressed the Penn State scandal, the 6"5' mountain of a man was almost overcome with emotion, after stating that this was "the biggest story probably of my lifetime" since the Marshall plane crash.
"How could any man," May said of the late Joe Paterno "that was worth his salt...not stop a child molester?" May paused and looked down from the crowd, who applauded the gentle giant for displaying such passion and emotion before an audience. It was a very powerful moment felt in the heart of each and every individual in attendance, from the board members to the servers pouring beverages. "It's about as bad as it gets in college football and...hopefully everyone thats involved will get their just dues. Next question please."
May went on to lighten the mood by addressing inquiries of College Gameday at Arkansas and the possibility of Arkansas v. Arkansas State and whacky conference realignment. After thanking the crowd for their time, and receiving a standing ovation, May took pictures with the club members and even found time to give some parting words and advice to an aspiring young journalist in the crowd.
Though Mark May will be a tough act to follow, next week former USC and LA Rams coach John Robinson will speak before th club. Robinson coached the Trojans to 4 Rose Bowls and the Rams to 2 NFC Championships and also drafted and coached Eric Dickerson. If you wish to come out and see for yourself, a one time fee of $50.00 will make you an honorary LRTD club member and $15.00 will get you a meal, while non-members will pay $25.00. The meetings are held at the Little Rock Embassy Suites.