Pictures are worth a thousand words, or so they say.
That’s the whole idea of Hawgs Illustrated. Good photos are required for a smooth magazine in 4 colors.
But then again, everyone knows I’m more than capable of writing thousands of words without pictures.
But this time, the photo – or in this case the photos – came first.
I knew in late December that Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman had a great idea to get together for a team photo with all three trophies won during the regular season. He made it a November campaign to add the trophies involved in the LSU and Missouri games to the Southwest Classic trophy won in September when the Hogs snapped a nine-game losing streak against Texas A&M.
It was a great idea, made even better when the Razorbacks added the Outback Bowl trophy with a 24-10 win over Penn State on New Years Day.
This team photo taken just before they left Fayetteville for Tampa, Florida added an additional trophy via Photoshop.
“It was totally Sam’s idea for the picture (with the trophies),” said Kyle Parkinson, assistant athletic director for communications. “It was a big deal in that he wanted it for the players because it’s something they will always cherish.”
It’s unique because team photos are almost always taken in pre-season. It’s almost never done after the regular season, and only once in Arkansas after the bowls.
This 2021 team photo, a complete surprise at 9-4 with a final ranking of No. 21, will be more important as time goes on. This could be the turning point of the program, considered in 10 years to be Arkansas football’s incredible breakthrough.
No doubt they will cherish it. For example, a call to Fred Marshall, the 1964 Razorbacks quarterback, said exactly that when asked about the national championship team’s most famous photo. It was taken on the sawdust of what was then Barnhill Fieldhouse in early January 1965.
The 1964 Razorbacks photo is the most famous in the program’s history.
This photo was taken just hours after the Football Writers Association of America was rumored to have voted the Razorbacks No. 1, the only undefeated team remaining after the victory over Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl.
“It was the idea of Bob Cheyne, the director of sports information,” Marshall said. “He caught Barry Switzer and Lon Farrell. They came to the dorm and told us to spread the word about coming to Barnhill for something important.
“Now beware, there were no cell phones, no texting. We had three phones in the dorm, one for each floor. Communication was by word of mouth.
Only three coaches were on campus. The others were on the road to recruit. The bright red home jerseys were scattered after the bowling game.
“So they grabbed the white road jerseys and that’s what we were wearing for the picture,” Marshall said. “There were a few players missing. If we couldn’t find you in the dorm or around campus, you weren’t there. But most of us are there.
There were three notable exceptions. Head coach Frank Broyles and two star players, Jerry Lamb and Ronnie Caveness, were at the Hula Bowl in Hawaii.
“It’s a great shot and I have to say out of all my Razorback stuff, it’s my most prized possession,” Marshall said. “Bob Cheyne gave us each several copies.
“I had a copy autographed by the whole team. It’s in my man cave. I don’t know if there’s another one like that with every autograph. I had them all.
Offensive guard Jerry Welch recalled Cheyne handing out “stacks” of photos to each player.
“I remember my red jersey was in the dorm, but we didn’t try to find them,” Welch said. “I wouldn’t say we took them with permission. They were all returned, but we wore white that day.
Welch is in the center of the image, holding a banner.
“I had a way of doing that, of being in front of images,” he said. “I started doing this way back in high school in Little Rock Central.
“I heard about the photo Sam Pittman took before the bowling game and I applaud it. Ours was not planned like that and was a spur of the moment. It was just taking everyone you could find.
“A picture like the one Sam took with four trophies is pretty amazing and I’m glad they did it. It’s probably going to be a famous picture too.
The conditions for this 1964 team photo weren’t perfect. The lighting wasn’t great and you wouldn’t take a team photo in the basketball arena under normal conditions. But the sawdust behind the basketball court was where the football team practiced in the winter.
In many ways, it was fitting because that’s where the famous fourth-quarter class was held, administered by assistant coach Wilson Matthews.
There is another team photo of the 1964 team, taken before the season at the training ground. There are 48 players included, no coaches.
But it’s the January photo that pops up everywhere, including in every media guide. It’s in many Razorback man caves, restaurants across the state and considered the most famous team photo, even with some players missing.
“We probably didn’t have married guys (pictured),” Welch said. “They didn’t live in the dorm, so they didn’t hear the word. But most guys are there.
“You never get everyone. We didn’t have the trophy for this photo yet. I think that’s pretty good what Sam did to get all the trophies, even the bowling Photoshop, for their team photo.
David Bazzel, the creator of the LSU and Missouri trophies, also applauds Pittman.
“Sam did a great job in almost every way,” Bazzel said. “Obviously, he is the coach. But he also used the trophies – and I had nothing to do with the Southwest Classic trophy – as a big motivator like no one before him. Of course, once you win the first one, you build on that and he recognized it.
“And, he used the motivation for the LSU and Missouri games to play for those trophies at an absolute ‘T’.” They must be symbolic for great victories. Now to take those trophies and take a team photo is awesome.
“You use this to promote rookies. I give Sam a lot of credit. No coach before him has done it the way he has and made the trophies part of the motivation for the season. It worked and these players will remember it forever.
Not everyone who contributed to the four trophies is included in the 2021 picture. Treylon Burks and Tre Williams both “gave up” to prepare for the NFL Draft and weren’t on campus.
Pittman hosted the photoshoot in the south area of Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Parkinson assured that it will soon be on display in the football offices and at the Broyles Center.
“I think it turned out better than even Sam imagined,” Parkinson said.
That’s pretty much how the whole 2021 season has gone. No one saw it coming. That’s what will make this team photo so special.