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Overdue Induction of UA Greats into SWC Hall of Fame Was for All Hog Fans

The Southwest Conference Hall of Fame inducted nine former Razorback greats on Monday at the Little Rock Touchdown Club, and for old timers it was a fun trip down memory lane.

You'll find more of these now in the SWC Hall of Fame.
You'll find more of these now in the SWC Hall of Fame.
Wesley Hitt

Monday's Little Rock Touchdown Club lunch was one for the ages - and the aged - as the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame inducted eight former Razorback athletes and one coach at a lively ceremony that echoed of Hog calls and memories of relevance past.

Razorback fans under the age of 30 most assuredly know the Hogs used to toil, often quite successfully, in the now defunct Southwest Conference, which remained well into the 80s one of the nation's best football conferences.

But they know it like you and I know that Alaska actually exists: We take it for granted that it does.

The 1,000 or so mostly "Silver Hogs" who gathered inside the ballroom of the Little Rock Marriott to pay tribute to Razorback legends know the Hogs of the SWC.

Despite 20-plus years now in the SEC, the SWC still runs through our veins: The memories of dark crevices like Heart O' Texas Coliseum, Autry Gym and G. Rollie White - places from which one literally had to escape; the hatred of all things burnt orange; the expectation of titles. And Monday... well, Monday was for us.

The ballroom was filled with loyal Razorback old timers (behind the dais and otherwise) who called the Hogs to open the show and relished traveling down a fork of memory lane adorned with SWC championships and national relevance.

The SWC Hall was created in 2013, officially existing under the umbrella of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in Waco. (Yes, irony oozes.) And Monday's inclusion of more Razorbacks was overdue.

Up until Monday, it had reserved spots for just three with Razorback ties: Frank Broyles, Nolan Richardson and John McDonnell.

Thanks to the efforts of former Razorback greats like Bill Montgomery, who quarterbacked Arkansas from 1968-70 and is bound himself one day for the SWC Hall, that Holy Trinity of Hogs now has some cardinal-clad company.

Recognized on Monday (LRTD's weekly gathering doubled as the official induction ceremony) were the nine Hogs who make up the 2014 class:

  • Lance Alworth, football, perhaps the UA's first big star of the modern era and as a Charger the AFL's first superstar (dubbed Bambi for his speed and agility) and its first inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • Mike Conley, track, the world's greatest triple jumper and Olympic gold medalist who helped launch Arkansas track dominance (42 national titles), winning 16 individual national championships and 13 SWC titles during his time on the Hill.
  • Leotis Harris, football, an all-conference and all-America selection who anchored the run-dominant O-line of the mid-70s and helped lead the Hogs to a 1976 Cotton Bowl win over Georgia before embarking on a career with the Packers.
  • Sidney Moncrief, basketball, considered by many the greatest Razorback of all-time, the school's all-time leading scorer when he left Fayetteville for the NBA and as a member of the famed Triplets helped put UA basketball on the map.
  • Billy Moore, football, quarterbacked the Hogs to two SWC championships and a 25-8 record from 1960-62, and led to the Hogs to within a typically controversial call at Texas of a national championship in '62.
  • Loyd Phillips, football, Outland Trophy winner in '66 who led the extraordinary Hog D during the golden era of 1964-66 (record of 29-3) that included a national championship and who went on to play in the NFL with the Bears.
  • Clyde "Smackover" Scott, football, star running back and Olympic medalist in the 110-meter high hurdles, whose No. 12 was the first UA jersey ever retired and at the time (1948) represented just the third Hog to receive all-America honors.
  • Coach Eddie Sutton, basketball, who resurrected Arkansas hoops from the sawdust of old Barnhill Fieldhouse, guiding the Hogs to the 1978 Final Four and paving the way for Nolan's national championship tenure.
  • Melody Sye O'Reilly, cross country, a five-time all-American who held 10 school records when she graduated and who represented the UA on the SWC All-Decade team of the '80s in cross country, and indoor and outdoor track.

Read more about each of them here.

All are very deserving, and more Hogs will follow. SWC Hall president Carroll Dawson, a former basketball coach at Baylor and with the Houston Rockets, promised as much. He said the Hall's goal is to induct 50-70 athletes from each of the nine former SWC schools.

For you youngsters, that's Arkansas, Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, SMU, TCU, Rice, Texas Tech (beginning in '58) and Houston ('76). And back in the day, that actually represented a pretty hefty lineup.

This 2014 class of Hogs marks the Hall's fifth induction ceremony, and Dawson said more ceremonies will follow - in both Arkansas and Texas - in the next few years.

"From now on, this conference is not gonna die," he said. "It'll be here long after we're gone."

All but Alworth, Scott and Sutton were on hand with contingents of family and friends to personally accept medals representing their induction.

Alworth, recuperating from hand surgery, sent a hearty video message that he closed with a rousing Wooooo Pig Soooie. Scott's son Steve provided an impassioned account of how much being from Arkansas and a Razorback meant to his dad, 90 this year and suffering from symptoms of dementia.

Harris spoke of his impoverished upbringing in Lonoke County, of walking to the general store on rocky dirt roads in bare feet, and of opportunities afforded him by the UofA.

And Razorback hoops great Joe Kleine - a surefire future SWC Hall inductee himself - spoke for Coach Sutton, whose health is failing, and asked for our thoughts and prayers. Kleine, who considered his coach a father figure, said Eddie always considered Arkansas his favorite place, and considered it home.

The other honorees recounted similar feelings of gratitude to Razorback fans for making their collegiate careers so meaningful and for essentially adopting them into the family, where they've remained ever since.

"Arkansas is my home," Sidney said. "You develop the best athletes in the world here because you nurture people."

Chicago-native Conley said he could've ended up "anywhere, at any university."

"But it wouldn't have been the same if it hadn't been Arkansas," he said.