Every week it seems to, which is another reason the undefeated Razorbacks have so many detractors. A field goal kicker with prodigious numbers is a nice guy to have around, but his stats also reveal the offense's inability to score touchdowns. Arkansas's only touchdown against A & M came on a 47-yard interception return by rover-back Patrick Williams in the first quarter. "If I had just thrown it two feet lower, it would have been a 20-yard completion," said Aggie quarterback Bucky Richardson afterward. Yes, football is a game of feet. The Hogs added two points on a safety with 9:19 left in the third quarter when linebacker Kerry Owens dumped A & M running back Darren Lewis in the end zone.
While the Arkansas faithful are dismayed by their Hogs' woeful offense, they're equally chagrined by the bad feelings between Broyles and Hatfield. Both men deny that there's a rift, but trouble began last year, during a season punctuated by a 51-7 mugging of the Hogs by Miami and a 16-14 loss to Texas, which won on an 18-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the game. Broyles met with Hatfield after the season and, he says, "listed areas where fans had unrest. After all, we had had some disastrous things happen to us. I told him it was the fans' perception that his scheme of offense and defense would prevent him from winning major games."
In other words, the offense was putting people to sleep, and Broyles wanted Hatfield to throw the ball more. Broyles also told Hatfield that the pass defense had to be strengthened. Broyles charitably says that Hatfield was planning to make those changes anyway. This year the Razorbacks' offense has moved away from its reliance on the wishbone to a flexbone that allows for more passing. And Arkansas has gone from a three-back defense to a four. But the Hogs still lack the big-play capability that would endear them to the fans.
Broyles also confronted Hatfield on a more sensitive issue. "I told him that his emphasis on religion was divisive," says Broyles. The message was clear: Hatfield, a devout fundamentalist, was to stop wearing his religion so publicly. Among other things, he is to refrain from opening his Sunday-afternoon TV show with a verse from the Scriptures ("Jesus wept," Hatfield had intoned the day after the Miami massacre).
Broyles also wants Hatfield to replace several of his assistants. On that issue Hatfield has dug in his heels, and this may be one reason that the annual renegotiation of his salary, which at $71,531 ranks 63rd among college football coaches (income from his TV show and fringe benefits increase his earnings to around $150,000 a year), has run into a snag. Broyles says it's preposterous to think that Hatfield might not be back, but coaches who feel unappreciated often have their bags packed. The Tennessee job, for example, could be offered to Hatfield if the 3-6 Vols decide to show Johnny Majors the door.
Razorback defensive tackle Wayne Martin said last week, "It's kind of a disappointment that people don't think we're good, but if we keep winning, maybe that will make believers out of them." It might. But should the Hogs lose to Miami and then in the Cotton Bowl—it will be their first trip to Dallas since 1976—the spectacle could unfold of a 10-2 mark not being good enough. And that could get real ugly.