Leader Blues

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

SPORTS >> Former head Hog gives talk in Cabot

BY JASON KING
Leader sports writer

IN SHORT: The winningest football coach in University of Arkansas history appeared before an enthusiastic crowd at the Cabot Rotary Club’s June meeting Monday.

Former Arkansas Razorback football coach Ken Hatfield was the guest speaker at the annual Rotary Club banquet in Cabot Monday night. Hatfield was coach of the Razorbacks from 1984 to 1989, and was also a player on the historic 1964 team.

Just prior to Hatfield’s speech, outgoing Rotary president Sandy Huckabee showed a brief film clip of Hatfield’s historic punt return in the ’64 game against Texas. Hatfield said seeing the footage always brings back gre-at memories, and revealed that it was the center who actually made the game-saving play when he snapped the ball early on fourth down after noticing that there were 12 Texas defenders on the field.

The former head Hog told a number of jokes and humorous stories in his brief speech. He also praised the work of the Rotary Club, comparing them to the center on a football team.

“Real success is giving,” Hatfield told the audience. “When you can take your talents and use them to benefit others, you will make the world a better place.”

After Hatfield’s speech, Huckabea announced Jeff Spann as the new Rotary Club president. Spann spoke briefly to close out the evening, announcing the goals of the club for the coming year.

A number of people lined up to get Hatfield’s autograph afterward. Not surprisingly, the coach was still ready to talk football.
“For me, it was good to coach where I grew up,” Hatfield said. “It was very special, and I feel like the most blessed guy in America to be able to coach at my Alma-mater.

Hatfield also told The Leader about the advantages of coaching in the old Southwest Conference versus the SEC of today.

“When we played in the Southwest Conference, there was a lot of tradition to call on. You could get the players fired up telling them about a game that happened 25 years ago. It was all the same teams for all those years, so you had a lot of ways to relate to the players. There’s not as long of a tradition in the SEC, which makes it a little harder.”

Hatfield was also complimentary of the Rotary Club, and its members.

“I really enjoy banquets like this,” Hatfield said. “It’s a chance for the members to tell their spouses ‘thank you for sacrificing your time.’ The understanding of the members’ spouses is important to the success of this club, and that’s what these banquets are all about.”