Arkansas. Home of the Hogs. Pig, sooey! And all that. But not much else. At least that's what they tell you down there. "Look; man. We have an old saying. There're three things in this state. Johnny Cash. Glen Campbell. And Arkansas football." "Damn right," adds Razor-back Guard Ron Hammers. "And they're nuts over all three. But especaily us. That's why the Texas thing was such a nightmare. We not only let down the school. We let down the whole damn state of Arkansas."
That Texas thing was the last-minute loss of a football game and the national championship when James Street's long pass with time growing short set up the touchdown that gave the Longhorns a 15-14 comeback win. "I still see it," Hammers says. "I lie in bed and see it floating up there. Over and over again. There's no way to forget."
That loss, coupled with another in the Sugar Bowl to Mississippi, left Arkansas with two protruding warts, a fact well recognized by an image-conscious—or, better, poll-conscious—school. So when an 11th game was offered, Coach Frank Broyles looked for the toughest he could find. He ended up with national television, Stanford and its Heisman Trophy candidate, Quarterback Jim Plunkett. "If we have a good team," Broyles says, "it will help us get back the recognition we lost. If we're not good, well, it won't make any difference then, will it?"
Betting is the Razorbacks will get their recognition back, thanks in the main to a pair of the most unlikely roommates around. Quarterback Bill Montgomery, a shy, self-effacing leader, and Wide Receiver Chuck Dicus, flamboyant and irrepressible but just as valuable.
Montgomery is looked on as the best quarterback in Arkansas history, Dicus as the best end. But it is in performance that similarities stop. Montgomery, buttoned-down and crew-cut and hornrimmed, looks like a someday preacher, a future Billy Sunday. Dicus, with, they say, "the personality to charm old ladies and to excite young girls," looks like an ad for hair spray. Montgomery "will have a social beer with you," a teammate says, "but he really prefers milk shakes"; Dicus prefers fun—any kind. Montgomery speaks in brief homilies, Dicus in understatements.
Montgomery's appearance is deceptive; like Clark Kent, once he takes off the glasses he becomes, well, says Dicus, "Bill becomes super-jock." Two years ago, at the beginning of his sophomore year, the coaches were somewhat reluctant to use him; they soon changed their minds. "We wondered," Broyles admits now, "whether we could win with a kid. We did. And now he's as good as a coach on the field."
And though it's true Dicus could think of better places to be than Fayetteville ("You know what the big movie here this spring was," he says with a smile. "Nothing like Z or Easy Rider. Naw. It was Walt Disney's The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes"), there is no one in the state who'd be willing to trade him. In his first two seasons he's already broken Arkansas pass-catching records that have stood for more than 30 years, and with former Colt Receiver Raymond Berry added to the coaching staff he can do nothing but get better.
With Montgomery, Dicus and Running Back Bill Burnett again to lead the offense and a strong defense returning, the whole Arkansas team will be as good, if not better. Again it plays Texas at the end of the season, and again the game may be for the national title. Last year there was a celebration scheduled at the athletic dormitory after the game. It turned out to be a wake. "This year," says Dicus, "we'd like to make it a real party."