Golden Lions fans cite past rebuffs but still plan to shoot for Razorbacks


For Sam Beavers, contempt for the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville is real, even though he grew up as a fan of Razorback.

“I can’t stand them for what they did at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, my alma mater,” said Beavers, a former Golden Lions kicker and punter who graduated in 2020. . “You come back and watch guys like Frank Broyles use the state legislature to intentionally hurt other schools in the state of Arkansas.”

It is well documented that Broyles, Arkansas football coach from 1958 to 1976 and athletic director from 1974 to 2007, adopted a long-standing policy against playing in state schools to protect the interests. of AU athletics. Arkansas haven’t played an opponent in football since 1944, when they beat Arkansas A&M College, now UA-Monticello.

Beavers, now Jefferson County Election Commissioner, took his dislike of the AU a step further, citing laws that prevented other state college athletic programs from making necessary capital improvements .

“There are laws in place right now that prevent us from lighting our baseball stadium due to funds allowed to be used in certain locations,” said high school graduate Watson Chapel. “[Broyles] knew it wasn’t going to hurt him because he knew he would always have the Razorback Foundation [a fundraising arm of UA athletics]. They will still have Walmart and Stephens and all that.

“Schools that don’t have that, it really hurts us. I’m not a big fan of that.”

Broyles died in 2017, and his successor, Jeff Long, has not budged from politics. But current athletic director Hunter Yurachek has since opened the door for Arkansas to reach out to sister schools such as UAPB, whose women’s baseball and basketball teams have faced Razorback teams over the past three years. last years. (Arkansas won last year’s basketball game and all three baseball games.)

Beavers said he studied Arkansas’ stance on not playing in public schools while serving on the search committee that selected Cedric Thomas as head football coach for the 2018 season. (Thomas resigned after the 2019 season and was replaced by Doc Gamble.)

It was at this point that Beavers said his pride in the Hogs had waned, based on what he had learned about them.

On Saturday morning, Beavers will cheer on his beloved Golden Lions against the University of Arkansas’ flagship program inside War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. AU’s flagship status and market value, of course, drew fans from all over Arkansas, including Pine Bluff, where the men’s basketball team played twice a season in the early days. from the city’s Convention Center.

Nannette Lewis, a retired high school teacher who lives in White Hall, is a die-hard Razorback fan and has Razorback accessories all over her house and on the windshield of her vehicle to prove it.

Although Lewis and her husband Larry, a retired UAPB graduate sports coach, have spent their entire lives in the Pine Bluff area, their strong love for red and white outweighs local loyalty. for Saturday.

The Lewises said they are encouraging the Hogs to maintain the momentum second-year coach Sam Pittman has built into the program.

“The best thing about it is that they pay the money to a sister institution rather than an out-of-state university,” said Nannette Lewis, UA-Little Rock graduate. “It’s like a family reunion where you get your cousins ​​together to play touch football in the backyard. Both teams really want to win, but the loser can be happy for the winner because they are still a part of it. of the family.”

Arkansas would pay UAPB $ 600,000 for this year’s game. They are scheduled to replay on August 31, 2024 in Little Rock.

“For us, I think that’s it,” Beavers said. “You have a few sports on campus that make money, and that money goes to support everyone. You have a great women’s volleyball team this year and great women’s football. This money comes from the basketball and the football that we are able to play.

Ray Jackson, a maintenance worker with the Pine Bluff School District, attended UAPB but cheers on the Razorbacks on Saturday.

One of the reasons Jackson cites is that his sister Juliet played for four years on the Arkansas women’s basketball team. Juliet Jackson scored 1,213 points in Arkansas and led the Razorbacks to Elite Eight in 1990.

Another reason is that Ray Jackson’s hometown is linked to UA athletics.

“I had several friends who played ball there from Pine Bluff – US Reed, Tracy Caldwell, Ken Biley, Carl Kidd, Rod and Ryan Stinson, Randy Coleman, Michael James, Carlos James, Carl Johnson, Josh Liddell, Rodney Forte and Andrew Lang, ”he said.

Pine Bluff native and UAPB graduate Brent Lowe takes his two sons to Saturday’s game and said they will sit on the UAPB side, even though Lowe is a Hogs fan.

“Not while rooting [for Arkansas], but it’s almost like, in reality, I expected the Razorbacks to win, ”said Lowe, who now lives in Mayflower. “I just want a good performance and everyone to have fun, no injuries. I’d be surprised if the Golden Lions make a game of it. “

Beavers said it would have been cool for UAPB to take on Arkansas during his college days. The only other time the UAPB faced a team from a Power Five conference was during the opening of the 2019 season, when Beavers was a student assistant coach and Texas Christian University beat the Lions 39- 7.

Now, the long awaited luck of the UAPB to its big brother is fast approaching.

Arkansas lost to Western Kentucky the same year UCA [University of Central Arkansas] beat Western Kentucky, “Beavers said, referring to 2019.” I’d love to see UCA come into Fayetteville and beat them, and [Arkansas] Express yourself in the same way. I think people need to understand that there is great Division I football and great Division I sports outside of Fayetteville. “

UAPB (1-5) at Arkansas (4-3)

• When: 11 am on Saturday

• Where: War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock

• Video: SEC Network

• Audio: UAPB broadcast on KPBA-FM 99.3 “The Beat”; Arkansas broadcast on KABZ-FM 103.7 “The Buzz”

• Tickets:

• Conference reports: UAPB 0-4 in SWAC; Arkansas 1-3 in SEC

• Series record: first meeting

Nannette and Larry Lewis are longtime University of Arkansas fans and maintain their loyalty to the team during Saturday’s game against the UAPB, where Larry graduated. (Pine Bluff Commercial / IC Murrell)

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