It’s not clear where the collectible comes from, but its credentials appear fairly legit. How else do you get 104 pages chock full of courtside photographs, team photos and insight from a Razorback coaching legend? The book’s title: "A Tribute to Eddie Sutton." Its year: 1984. And its tone? Nothing Orwellian about it in the least.
Every last page, you see, is practically a paean to the man who rebuilt Arkansas basketball from the ashes and turned it into a national powerhouse. That much is clear from the very first page, when we are introduced to this sentence: "Frank Broyles, Athletic Director at Arkansas, was aware of the awesome potential of basketball at the University of Arkansas and felt that Coach Sutton was the man to conduct the transformation. Was he ever correct!" To skim through the following pages is to enter a time machine and whizz back to the days of "Porker Power" signs, Ron Brewer’s Clyde Frazier-esque stylings and Jim Robykin’s "magnificent hogwild band."
No single post can do this masterpiece of fandom full justice. But we can bring you a few choice nuggets in honor of the banner which is now hanging in Sutton’s honor at Bud Walton Arena on Saturday night.
1. Eddie Sutton was coming off a 23-6 record at Creighton when he accepted the UA job in 1974, according to the book’s author, someone who appears very well connected to the program. At that point, Arkansas was stuck in cycle of mediocrity which extended back to at least the early 1960s.
"Many thought Arkansas was a good place to bury a thus far successful and bright young basketball coach," the author writes. "Bobby Knight, Indiana’s brilliant basketball coach, upon hearing of Eddie’s move to Arkansas, was less than encouraging. ‘Look at the jobs that will come open next year’ lectured Knight, five years Suttons [sic] junior. ‘And you’re going to Arkansas? Forget it.’"
2. Then Arkansas became one of the nation’s winningest programs over the next seven years, as likely to win it all in that era of college basketball as Clemson is in today's college football. The Sutton Hogs racked up five conference titles in a decade and in 1978 became the first Southwest Conference program to rise to No. 1 in the nation, according to the author. Sutton’s tempo certainly wasn’t would would next come down the chute in Nolan Richardson, but that didn’t stop fans from marveling at Sutton’s "fast pace" all the same.
It only gets better from here, folks.
For instance, did you know Rick Schaeffer might have been a surfer back in the day?
For the added bonus of seeing vintage Santa hat-wearing Eddie, Jimmy Carter, Elizabeth Ward, Sidney Moncrief, Ron Brewer and more by visiting BestOfArkansasSports.com