Six-Minute Video of Nearly 10,000 Hog Fans Flooding Field after Beating LSU

For at the least the third time in school history, students swarmed the field at what’s now the Reynolds Razorback Stadium. In 1999, I was in the stands as a freshman UA student. Seeing so many classmates rush the field to tear down the goalposts (en route to Dickson St.) in the aftermath of a 28-24 win over Tennessee was an amazing thing. But it’s only in my mind. No iPhones back then.

That wasn’t the case Saturday night, in the aftermath of the most cathartic sports event I’ve ever experienced. I happened to be in the stands once more, this time with means to document the historic night.

Here are a few snapshots  -

Below are a couple videos, too. The one at top shows hundreds of UA students gushing all of the sudden onto the field. If I were to make a horrible analogy, I’d say it’s similar to seeing someone’s water break. But I won’t do that.

(PS – Excuse the initial shakiness. It took a while to get my bearings with all the pandemonium.)

Aftermath

IMG_0134

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Before Arkansas-LSU, Had a Winless Conference Team Been Favored Vs. a Top 25 Squad?

brolyles snazzy passerOn the surface, it doesn’t make any sense.

How can a team not able to muster a conference win in 25 months be favored heading into a game against a perennial SEC power and Top 25 team? Yet it’s this unlikely situation Arkansas found itself in much of this week entering tonight’s home game vs. No. 20 LSU. Many major sportsbooks in Las Vegas favored the Hogs by one. They knew Arkansas has been so close to beating a a few Top 10 teams this season as it plows through the nation’s toughest schedule.

But has anything like this ever happened before? That is, has a team still winless in conference in November entered a game against a Top 25 team as nearly the favorite, in the process spitting on one of Bill Parcells’ most treasured maxims?

Not quite – but close.

In the last 12 years or so, the most similar parallel came on Nov 24th, 2012 from the Big East, when Pittsburgh (4-6, 1-4) was favored by 1.5 over No. 18 Rutgers (9-1, 5-0),  according to research done by the full-service sports statistical site KOStats.com. Pitt beat Rutgers 27-6. But for insight into the 20th century, I went to my football historian friend Andrew McKillop of FootballGeography.com. He came back with this:

“There were some leads, but when I looked up the line the Top 25 team was always favored.
The closest I found was in 1944. Duke (1-4) was called just a slight underdog at home against No. 5 Georgia Tech. Duke won and the next week they were ranked No. 20th by the AP – despite that 2-4 record.”
Guess why this Georgia Tech squad was ranked so highly to begin with?
Frank Broyles – the 1944 SEC Player of the Year.
broyles punt

 Images courtesy of Georgia Tech Archives and Special Collections

Yes, Broyles, the eventual legendary Razorback patriarch who hired Jeff Long who hired Bret Bielema who leads Arkansas tonight. Broyles, still kicking at age 89, was in his playing days a jack-of-all-trades All-American back who punted, threw for touchdowns and returned opponents’ passes for scores of his own.

Heading into that November 4, 1944 game at Duke, Broyles had helped lead Georgia Tech to a 5-0 record including a 17-15 takedown of then-dominant Navy. The Blue Devils, which were in a different conference, had only lost by seven to Navy but had been crushed 7-27 by Army the game before.

It didn’t matter. This game belonged to Duke, despite Broyles’ throwing for a 42-yard touchdown to Mickey Logan.

Mickey Logan: Georgia Tech's Rudy?

Mickey Logan: Georgia Tech’s Rudy?

Duke went on to win its remaining four games, including wipe outs of North Carolina, Wake Forest and South Carolina, as well as a Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. Georgia Tech won its next three of four games (inc. LSU) and was invited to the Orange Bowl, where Broyles threw for 304 yards in a loss to Tulsa (a record not broken until Tom Brady did it in 2000).

FB: Straight dual-threatin'

            Broyles: Straight dual-threatin’

In later years, Broyles would get his revenge on Duke. Not in football as Arkansas’ head coach, but in basketball as its athletic director. Thirty years after that 1944 loss, he convinced a promising young basketball coach named Eddie Sutton to leave Creighton and come to Fayetteville. Duke was another program heavily courting Sutton at the time, according to Sports Illustrated.

Fifty years after that loss, he would watch in Charlotte as his basketball program and another coach he hired wrest something even more precious from Duke – a national title.

In case you doubted the above 1945 Georgia Tech annual clips are authentic, kindly observe Allen Bowen’s nickname below for verification:

Broyles profile pic throwing

all americans


Matt Jones’ & David Bazzel’s Ideas for an Arkansas-Missouri Rivalry Trophy

The Yellow Horde Cometh. Rejoice?

The Golden Horde Cometh.

Can Missouri become the legit Arkansas rival into which LSU never quite developed?

Many Hog fans believe so. From a geographic standpoint, it makes sense, considering the campuses are about five hours apart – an hour closer than Ole Miss (Oxford) ,  the second-closest SEC campus to Fayetteville.

“I believe in the next decade or so it will be a good rivalry,” former Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones says. “Both Arkansas and Mizzou are kind of in the same boat” in terms of overall recent football success. For the hate to really to flourish, though, Missouri must remain near the top of the SEC East and Arkansas must start beating its SEC West foes. He believes that for a true rivalry to flourish between two SEC programs, they must both meet in a regular season finale, both should win roughly half the games they play with each other overall, and each program should – at least once every five years –  play in the game with an SEC Championship Game appearance on the line.

It’s possible if both teams head into that final game with zero or one loss, they would meet again a few weeks later in the SEC Championship Game.  That’s something LSU and Arkansas can’t do now. And it’s not inconceivable that if both programs keep building off their current momentum, they may in a few years end up as two of the four (or eight) College Football Playoff teams. Any post-season clash at this level would kick the rivalry authentication process into warp speed.

Mutual success in the early years will ensure a healthy rivalry in the long run even when both programs inevitably wane at some point. Matt Jones likened this dynamic to Ole Miss and Mississippi State, where “if they beat each other and nobody else, that’s all that matters. It was never like that with LSU and us.”

Two other important factors here: A) As an SEC newcomer, Missouri hasn’t yet had time to develop a more hated in-conference rival already as Texas and LSU had and B) The rivalry’s basketball side will complement and strengthen the football animosity in ways that never happened with LSU-Arkansas or even Texas-Arkansas.

The fact left Hog basketball coach Mike Anderson and much of his staff left Missouri for Arkansas plays a lot into this, of course. It also helps the states of Missouri and Arkansas are in golden eras in terms of elite basketball recruits per capita, their schools often recruit against each other for the best players and that in vast swaths of northern Arkansas and Missouri, basketball – not football – is the most popular sport. That’s not the case in Louisiana and Texas.

Time will tell exactly what form the Missouri-Arkansas rivalry takes, and how deeply it will impress itself on the memories and hearts of today’s young Arkansans and Missourians.

In the short term, however, we have a much more concrete image of what the rivalry will look like. Earlier this month, the two colleges announced the game’s logo:

Battle line rivalry

In a press release, the University of Arkansas played up the “geographic and historical boundaries” between the states, “from disputed demarcations of the border separating the two states to notable alumni and former personnel with ties to both storied athletic programs. The historic rivalry between the two states will take on even more meaning now, as every Thanksgiving weekend the Battle Line will be drawn on the gridiron. The Razorbacks or Tigers will ultimately stake claim to the “Line” – until the next meeting.”

We don’t yet know what the “Line” is, exactly, but don’t be surprised to see a trophy emerge here. Will it, like the Golden Boot, be clad in the glory of a thousand suns?

Probably not.

But there are some interesting ideas out there. I find it hard not to like the message board favorite “ARMOgedden,” but for now the graphic representation of it wallows in alumni association tailgating motif purgatory.

Former Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones would like to see a kid-friendly trophy emphasizing the mascots. It would represent a giant pot, containing a “Tiger Sooey” witches’ brew that would be stirred by some not-yet-defined creature’s hand, he says.  Perhaps sticking out from the pot would be a tiger paw, or hog’s leg. Perhaps a witch looking like a hog-tiger hybrid stirs it. Suffice to say, Jones’ idea hasn’t exactly congealed.

David Bazzel has also had a crack at it.  His idea is one Carmen Sandiego would love. The logo he designed features the line of latitude which serves as much of Arkansas’ northern border. Nationally, the parallel 36°30′ north is best known for marking the Missouri Compromise, which in the early 1800s divided prospective free and slave states west of the Mississippi River:

mizzouark

For a few years controversy extending all the way to Washington D.C. entangled the Missouri-Arkansas area near the Mississippi River. The result: Arkansas’ weird, jagged northeastern corner. “I think anything’s cool if you have a historical context to it,” Bazzel says. If his idea had taken, “people would have said ‘What is 36°30’?’, and that’s where you would have to explain it to them. So it would have included history.”

Bazzel says he offered his concept to some people at IMG College, a major collegiate sports marketing company, involved creating the rivalry logo. He isn’t sure to what extent, if any, his idea was assimilated into the final rendition.  “I don’t mind the ‘battle line,’” he says. “It’s similar to what I was doing.”

When it comes to branding the future of Arkansas and Missouri’s rivalry, the past is in.


Houston Nutt Predicts Arkansas Will Beat LSU, Make Bowl Game

He's a believer.

He’s a believer.

Temperatures during this Saturday’s game between Arkansas and No. 20 LSU may dip below freezing, but when it comes to competitiveness no SEC trophy game series has been hotter. In each of the last nine games of this rivalry, an average of 6.2 points has been all that separates the teams. Eight times the difference has been eight points or less. It appears the only other major college trophy series with more consistently exciting finishes has been Duke-North Carolina, decided by an average of five points* in the same span.

In the last three years, LSU’s and Arkansas’ fortunes have fallen — the Tigers’ a little, Hogs’ a lot  — but the two sides haven’t let their fans down when facing each other. In 2012, nobody thought the burning Hogmobile soon-to-be-fired coach John L. Smith drove into Razorback Reynolds Stadium could pull away with a win against No. 8 LSU, but those struggling Hogs somehow out-gained LSU 462-306 in total yardage and in the closing seconds were an 18-yard touchdown pass away from forcing overtime.

Likewise, last year’s game also came down to the last couple minutes, when LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings found receiver Travin Dural on a 49-yard TD bomb that detonated Arkansas’ hopes of picking up a first SEC win since 2012.

Arkansas (4-5, 0-5) still seeks that first landmark victory. Many insiders predict the Razorbacks get it Saturday night at home. Coming off a strong showing against No. 1 Mississippi State and a bye week, Arkansas is favored by 2, according to the latest NCAAF game lines. This likely marks the first time a college football team without a conference win is favored over a Top 25 opponent this late in the season.**

Louisiana State, the would-be victim, looks to rebound from a bruising home loss to Alabama. Jennings was banged up in in the 20-13 affair and projects to have limited mobility against an Arkansas defense among the nation’s best in creating havoc in its opponent’s backfield. “Arkansas couldn’t catch them at a better time,”says Houston Nutt, former Razorback head coach. “You have a team who fought their guts out against Alabama … and now they have got to come to Fayetteville against a very hungry Arkansas team.”

“You know [LSU] is used to fighting for championships as well,” he adds, noting the difficulty of physically recovering from last week’s slugfest and overcoming a natural emotional letdown after losing an SEC West title shot. “They’re probably out of it.” Nutt predicts Arkansas will not only beat LSU, but ultimately go to a bowl game after winning at least one of its following two games against Ole Miss and Missouri.

Any bowl is great news for an Arkansas program starving for success. The same cannot be said of LSU, which was so close to still being in the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth. Now, whether it finishes the season with seven or nine wins, the Tigers are likely returning to the Outback Bowl or to the Taxslayer, Belk, Liberty, Texas or Music City bowls, writes The  Advocate’s Scott Rabalais. Not exactly music to Tiger fans’ ears.

Given what’s not at stake, it’s time Les Miles and the LSU staff maximize the develop of their record 17 true freshmen these next three games, Rabalais says. Split quarterbacking duties between the struggling Jennings and frosh Brandon Harris. Crank up the carry-o-meter for freshmen tailbacks Leonard Fournette and Darrel Williams. And “maximize the D-line rotations for the younger players like Sione Teuhema, Frank Herron, Greg Gilmore and Maquedius Bain. In the secondary, get more work for youngsters like Ed Paris and Jamal Adams and Russell Gage.”

“This season was never going to be about championships,” Rabalais adds. “It was always going to be a bridge to what the Tigers hope will be a brighter future.”

Paradoxically, this kind of talk, as well as the betting lines, may actually serve as a greater incentive to LSU players than whatever on-field consequences an Arkansas win could mean for them. Yes, of course, they want to keep the nearly 200-pound Golden Boot on campus for the fourth straight season. And what erstwhile SEC champion wouldn’t prefer a return trip to sunny Tampa to the prospect of a 56th AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis?

But despite what players and coaches say in public, simple pride and retaliation for a perceived slight can sometimes be the powerful motivation of all. In public, it’s foolish for coaches to admit they pay attention to Vegas and all the media chatter. But in the privacy of their locker room, it’s smart to use any perceived disrespect as extra fuel for competitive engines that may be running on low.

LSU won’t become Arkansas’ first SEC victim of the Bret Bielema era without a nasty fight. Expect another classic finish in the conference’s most heart-stopping rivalry.

Evin’s Scale of SEC Trophy Game One-Sidededness

Before 2014*, there were five trophies circulating in and among the sweaty, intraconference climes of SEC football country. Each one represents a decades-old rivalry, with LSU-Arkansas the baby of the bunch. What their Golden Boot lacks in tradition, though, has more than been made up for in sheer entertainment value. The below scale, based on final score differences, ranks the SEC trophy rivalries on a scale from most consistently entertaining (1) to most likely to cause a re-reading of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter for lack of anything better to do (5). Winners are in parentheses.

The Bellagio of sports trophies.

The Bellagio of sports trophies.

1. LSU-Arkansas (Golden Boot)

 

Year Point Differential
2013 4 (LSU)
2012 7 (LSU)
2011 24 (LSU)
2010 8 (UA)
2009 3 (LSU)
2008 1 (UA)
2007 2 (UA)
2006 5 (LSU)
2005 2 (LSU)

Total Point Differential: 56

Per-Game Average: 6.2

2. LSU/Ole Miss (Magnolia Bowl)

 

Year Point Differential
2014 3 (LSU)
2013 3 (Ole Miss)
2012 6 (LSU)
2011 49 (LSU)
2010 7 (LSU)
2009 2 (Ole Miss)
2008 17 (Ole Miss)
2007 17 (LSU)
2006 3 (LSU)

Total Point Differential: 90

Per-Game Average: 10


3. Florida/Georgia (Okefenokee Oar)

 

Year Point Differential
2014 18 (UF)
2013 3 (UG)
2012 8  (UG)
2011 4  (UG)
2010 3 (UF)
2009 24 (UF)
2008 39 (UF)
2007 12  (UG)
2006 7 (UF)

Total Point Differential: 118

Per-Game Average: 13.1

4. Ole Miss/Mississippi State (Golden Egg)

 

Year Point Differential
2013 7 (MSU)
2012 17 (Ole Miss)
2011 28 (MSU)
2010 8 (MSU)
2009 14 (MSU)
2008 45 (Ole Miss)
2007 3 (MSU)
2006 3 (Ole Miss)
2005 16 (MSU)

 

Total Point Differential: 138

Per-Game Average: 15.3

5. Alabama/Auburn** (Foy-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy)

Year Point Differential
2013 6 (AU)
2012 49 (UA)
2011 28 (UA)
2010 1 (AU)
2009 5 (UA)
2008 36 (UA)
2007 7 (AU)
2006 7 (AU)
2005 10 (AU)

Total Point Differential: 149

Per-Game Average: 16.6

*The new Texas A&M-South Carolina and Missouri-South Carolina series involve trophies, too. Which is nice. But for membership in this particular club, you need to have been clashin’ man horns for at least nine years running.

** Yes, the 2010 and 2013 Iron Bowls were awesomely entertaining. But Crimson Tide routs in 2008, 2011 and 2012 have made the series’ games on the whole the least consistently compelling.


New Arkansas-Mizzou Rivalry Namemakers Choose Not Cross the Line

Somewhere, Razorback fan “Latarian” is sighing.

For those of you who do not know, Latarian is a pigskin prophet and gridiron Gaudi. Two and a half years ago, on an SECRant.com thread you need to read right now, he proposed two trophy ideas for a permanent Arkansas-Missouri rivalry game:


“Battle for the Crystal Meth Pipe”

crystal meth

“Battle for the Golden Banjo”

golden banjo

Alas, Latarian cannot be happy today. As he wanted, University of Arkansas and University of Missouri officials have since announced a permanent rivalry game. But this morning it became clear, unfortunately, they are not Breaking Bad fans:

Battle line rivalry

BATTLE LINE RIVALRY ANNOUNCED FOR ANNUAL MIZZOU-ARKANSAS FOOTBALL GAME

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Southeastern Conference foes Arkansas and Missouri will meet on the football field next month in the first edition of the Battle Line Rivalry presented by Shelter Insurance. The new football series pits the SEC’s Eastern Division against the Western Division and provides a natural rivalry between Missouri and Arkansas.

This season’s game will mark the first conference matchup between the two schools. Arkansas and Missouri will play each season as SEC cross-divisional opponents.

The rivalry clashes against both geographic and historical boundaries – from disputed demarcations of the border separating the two states to notable alumni and former personnel with ties to both storied athletic programs. The historic rivalry between the two states will take on even more meaning now, as every Thanksgiving weekend the Battle Line will be drawn on the gridiron. The Razorbacks or Tigers will ultimately stake claim to the “Line” – until the next meeting.

“We are appreciative of Shelter Insurance for stepping forward to help us start the Battle Line Rivalry, an annual series that will soon become a much anticipated competitive rivalry for fans of both programs,” said Jeff Long, University of Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics. “With the close proximity of the institutions, fans of each school will have the opportunity to travel to both campuses for games in the series. It is a budding rivalry that will provide outstanding athletic competition while further enhancing the reach of both institutions and the SEC within our region and throughout the country.”

“We are pleased for Mizzou’s fans to have the chance to embrace this annual rivalry game with Arkansas,” said Mike Alden, University of Missouri Director of Athletics. “The partnership with Shelter Insurance for the Battle Line Rivalry really brings together two outstanding athletic departments and fan bases for an excellent matchup that we are looking forward to seeing develop into a rivalry.”

“Shelter got its start in Missouri and Arkansas, so our roots are deep in these two states,” said Rick Means, President and CEO of the Shelter Insurance Companies. “We hope that this new rivalry will be a fun new tradition for college football fans in both states.”

The inaugural Battle Line Rivalry presented by Shelter Insurance kicks off Friday, Nov. 28, at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo.  The game is set for a nationally televised broadcast at 1:30 p.m. on CBS.
Fans of both schools are encouraged to stay tuned for more exciting news regarding how the Battle Line Rivalry will be contested in a variety of ways in the near future.

For more information regarding Razorback Athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com or follow on Twitter @ArkRazorbacks.

Whatever trophy may come from this, it’s not going to be meth pipe. Perhaps it will represent the geographic section of southweast Missouri known as the bootheel.

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Sebastian Tretola and a History of Linemen Throwing Touchdown Passes

On October 25, 2014, it’s fair to say Sebastian Tretola made history.

In one of the SEC’s most meme-able moments of 2014, the Razorbacks’ 350-pound offensive tackle threw a 6-yard touchdown to a long snapper/wide receiver to blow open a game against Alabama-Birmingham. National acclaim followed. With tongue just slightly in cheek, Tretola said of his shining moment: “I got out there and did what I needed to do. I made a play, and made a great one … I don’t think any other play is up there with it.”

That quote’s from the SEC’s best Heisman plug video of the year, courtesy of the Arkansas athletic department. But the time spent crafting this mocku-masterpiece might have prevented the UA folks from finding out if Tretola actually was the first lineman in major college history to pass for a touchdown.

Here’s your answer: In modern history, yes he is.

A nice, OCD-y stroll down Data Verification Lane says so. Since 2000, there have been 776 games in which a player has completed a single pass which counted for a touchdown. As you can imagine, a majority of the passers who completed only one pass throughout an entire game are non-quarterbacks. Picking through the rest of the players – wide receivers, running backs, tight ends – I confirmed Tretola was the only full-time lineman to meet this criteria.

In 2011, a former defensive lineman from Colorado State threw a touchdown pass against No. 5 Boise State. Crockett Gillmore, a 6’6″, 260-pound tight end who’d converted from defensive end only five months before, threw a 27-yard touchdown off a lateral in a 63-13 loss.

Two other notable unique passers came in the form of converted defensive backs. In 2003, San Diego State’s Hubert Caliste threw a 25-yard TD pass on his first collegiate play as wide receiver. Three years later, Miami’s Lavon Ponder threw a 37-yard TD pass against North Carolina on the only offensive snap of what would be a four-year career.

Has a lineman ever thrown a touchdown pass in the NFL?

Not in modern times. Nor has a lineman even completed an attempt. There have been two such stabs, btw:

1) Down by three points near mid-field, Indianapolis center Jeff Saturday was involved in some last-second Colts trick-play shenaniganery in 2004. It didn’t work; Saturday’s pass attempt was illegal and Jacksonville won.

2) In 1980, Tampa Bay tackle Charley Hannah also failed to even get off a legitimate attempt. At the end of a close game against Minnesota, the Tampa Bay QB was trying to avoid a pass rush when he “dumped a pass to tackle Charley Hannah, who threw the ball to the ground when he saw an official waving his arms. Vikings end Randy Holloway picked up the ball and ran it into the end zone for an apparent touchdown,” according to the St. Petersburg Evening Independent as cited in Wikipedia. The officials needed several minutes to sort out the situation, and eventually penalized Tampa Bay 14 yards for an illegal forward pass.”

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The Many Sides of Arkansas Sports Legend Marcus Monk: An Exclusive

It’s a weekday morning in early September. Why is Razorback legend Marcus Monk driving to a place in southwest Arkansas that translates to “skull crusher”?

No, the 28-year-old Monk isn’t trying to resurrect his football career by challenging All-Pro NFL defensive end J.J. Watt to a “Hunger Games”-style wrestling match. Nor is he heading to Cossatot River High School to raft the equally dangerous whitewaters nearby that inspired the French to call it “cassé-tête.”

Instead Monk, Arkansas’ all-time leader in touchdown catches, is traveling Interstate 49 to help with a camp his former high school basketball coach organized. The coach, Kevin Kyzer, coached Monk more than a decade ago at East Poinsett County High School in Lepanto, Ark. Monk was one of the most decorated athletes the area has ever produced, a top-100 prep basketball player heading into a senior year in which he averaged 20.8 points, 16.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 3.8 blocks and 2.5 steals a game while leading EPC to a 35-1 record along with its first Class AAA state title.

Monk lives in Fayetteville, where he starred for the Hogs as a wide receiver 2004-07, but firmly believes he owes time and support to the people he knew growing up in northeast Arkansas. Most every year since he graduated college, he’s organized benefit games or camps to help raise funds for school supplies for elementary schools in Poinsett County. “Education is really important. It can change lives,” says Monk, an EPC valedictorian. “I do it to try to show my appreciation and try to give back.”

This mindset – whether applying to community, team or family – isn’t new. In 2004, he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “The first thing I’m going to do if I go pro in either football or basketball is to make sure my mother and Malik [his 6-year-old brother] are taken care of. I’m going to pay her back for all she’s done for me and give this town someone to be proud of.”

Since 2012, all three Monks have moved from northeast to northwest Arkansas for better job and education opportunities.  Whether they will remain there two years from now is something millions of college basketball fans around the nation want to know.

                                                                                      ***

Heading into summer of 2007, the storybook ending seemed so close: The millions of dollars, the endorsement deals, the wonderful new home mom always deserved. Monk been been a dual sport athlete as a freshman, playing spare minutes in basketball but announcing himself as a star in football. He had a junior season for the ages, helping Arkansas soar to 7-1 conference mark and the SEC title game while tallying 50 catches, 962 yards and a school-record 11 touchdowns. At 6-6, and 220 pounds, Monk was plenty physically imposing. Mix in his uncanny field awareness, high IQ and soft hands, and he had the makings of a top NFL prospect.

Then, during an August practice, Monk suffered a knee injury that required two surgeries and knocked him out of the first seven games. He returned to finish his senior season, but was never the same on the football field. The Chicago Bears drafted Monk in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, but he didn’t make the team. Stints with the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers also didn’t pan out. “I did get cut from the game I love, but I knew that I had my education and I could pretty much do whatever I wanted to as long as I put my mind to it,” he says. “I’ve always known that you can’t play forever. One advantage I did have was I stayed on top of my schoolwork.”

Indeed, Monk graduated college with a business degree in three and a half years. He came back in the late 2008 to take graduate courses in real estate and finance, and to give basketball another shot – this time primarily to keep in shape for NFL tryouts. Nearly four years after he’d last played, Monk rejoined the Hog basketball program. While taking graduate courses in real estate and finance, Monk averaged 4.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in the 2008-09 season. He helped the Razorbacks knock off No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 7 Texas at home.

Behind the scenes, he was a valuable leader for a young squad that included six freshmen and was at one point down to 10 scholarship players. “He brought that kind of calm, cool and collected mindset and attitude and you could tell he was the most mature one out there,” recalls Nick Mason, one of the six freshmen. “He was talking to guys in the locker room, making sure everybody had their grades straight – or whatever problems they had. I can remember him talking to guys – especially the freshmen – about girls, if they were having girl problems.”

Monk also developed respect for then-Razorback head coach John Pelphrey that developed into friendship. He said Pelphrey has been “a mentor,” checking in with him while he was playing professional basketball in Germany in 2010-2012. They remained friends when Monk briefly moved back to northeast Arkansas, and started helping train his friend, former Razorback and NBA player Ronnie Brewer, Jr. John Pelphrey is now a University of Florida assistant coach. When he calls now, it’s to check up on Monk as well as his younger brother Malik.

The Monks near their northeast Arkansas home.

The Monks near their northeast Arkansas home. Courtesy Marcus Monk

Malik Monk, a 16-year old junior at Bentonville High School, is one of the nation’s most highly recruited basketball players. Almost every major program, including Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina and Indiana, has offered him a scholarship. Pelphrey, who met Malik when he was a boy tagging behind Marcus Monk at Bud Walton Arena, now recruits him.

The bigger star Malik becomes, the more Marcus is known as Malik’s older brother as opposed to Marcus’ younger brother. This kind of perception change doesn’t disorient Marcus in the least. In his eyes, his role is crystal clear: Help protect Malik’s time, ensure he maintains his grades, allow him to be as much of a kid as possible. This means it’s often Marcus, or his mother, who take calls from college coaches and media on behalf of Malik.

While Marcus is a Razorback in so many ways, he doesn’t intend to sway Malik toward his own alma mater. The Monks monksare weighing which programs best suited to provide Malik both with the start of a good college education as well as what Malik hopes is a one-year preparation for a successful NBA career. Marcus is able to provide Malik – along with Malik’s summer league teammates – with advice borne of his own experience of being a highly recruited student-athlete. “I get a chance to spend time with my brother, but I also have 12 other guys that I’m responsible for and I’m a big brother to them as well.”

Last basketball season, Marcus helped mentor some of the current Razorback basketball players. He was finishing a Master’s of Business Administration degree at the University of Arkansas and volunteer assisted with the team, helping in various ways such as cutting film and devising scouting reports. The experience was valuable for any possible future college coaching. It also allowed him to spend more time with his cousin, Rashad “Ky” Madden, also a Lepanto, Ark. native.

Madden, a senior guard, is the team’s leading scorer and its most experienced player. Between Malik and Marcus in age, he is essentially like a middle brother. All three frequently talk with each other. “That’s like my little brother,” Marcus says of Madden. “I love him. I’ve been knowing him a long, long time. We’re from the same place, the same neighborhood … It’s more personal between me and Ky.”

Just as Malik prepares for a transition into the world of college basketball, and Ky prepares for a potential pro basketball career, Marcus too finds himself at a crossroads. In May, he graduated with an MBA and stays connected to his classmates for potential job leads. He spent much of this summer on the road with Malik and his summer travel team, and in September was working on the launch of his brother’s Web site. He says he doesn’t yet know if he will stay in northwest Arkansas for the next year or two, although he does want to be around Malik as he finishes high school.

Some see Marcus settling into a full-time job in northwest Arkansas as a sign that Malik would be a Razorback. Marcus says just as he and Malik haven’t yet settled on an eventual college destination, nor has he decided what career path he’ll venture down next.

“I’m in a transition stage,” he says. Whether a job in training, coaching, business or something else, “if something appears that is hard for me to turn down, then I definitely have to consider it.” But, he adds, “as far as priorities, my family is first come.”

Marcus Monk is no longer the spectacular receiver who seemingly could catch anything thrown his way. Instead, these days, Marcus Monk the giver pursues something much higher.

The above article originally published in the October/November issue of 2njoy magazine.

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