ESPN Game of the Century: 1969 Texas Longhorns vs. Arkansas Razorbacks


ESPN Game of the Century: 1969 Texas Longhorns vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

  • ESPN GAME OF THE CENTURY: TEXAS 1969 (DVD MOVIE)

In the 100th year of college football, it truly was the “Game of the Century.” In a game between unbeatens played at Arkansas’ Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, the Texas Longhorns were ranked Number 1 in the country, having won 18 straight games. The Arkansas Razorbacks were ranked Number 2, having won 15 straight. The Texas wishbone attack, then still a novelty, was an offensive juggernaut that averaged over 44 points per game coming into the contest. Arkansas led the nation in scoring defens

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3 Comments/Reviews

  • Terry Frei says:
    23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A view from the author of “Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming”, January 17, 2010
    By 
    Terry Frei (Denver) –

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: ESPN Game of the Century: 1969 Texas Longhorns vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (DVD)

    I’m the author of “Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming,” the 2002 book about this game and the events going on around it. Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming: Texas vs. Arkansas in Dixie’s Last Stand Third Down and a War to Go

    During the interviewing, research and writing process, I had a small TV with built-in VHS next to my computer and repeatedly watched a VHS of the broadcast. Slow motion, fast motion, pause, everything. It was from a showing on Arkansas television years later.

    I was worried when I saw this DVD pre-listed that it would be the truncated version shown on ESPN Classic, which left out significant parts of the game and all but ignored Nixon’s post-game visits to the dressing rooms to talk with, among others, Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles. Fortunately, it’s a near-full version of the ABC broadcast, with Chris Schenkel and Bud Wilkinson in the booth and Bill Fleming on the field and in the dressing rooms. So it you taped a “Classic” showing, this indeed is a considerable upgrade.

    I do wish this DVD included two other elements that are missing: a) the College Football Today pregame segment, in which Wilkinson explains and demonstrates the Wishbone concepts — significant because the Razorbacks were about to employ innovative defensive strategies against it that others would copy in later years; and, b) The halftime interview with President Richard Nixon in the booth, in which he says some vague, yet prescient things about what might happen in the second half.

    It’s fascinating to see the 1969 broadcast technology, most notably the simple white on-screen graphics, plus the then-revolutionary and still-a-few-bugs instant replay. It’s hard not to apply today’s standards to the announcers’ work. Let’s just say Schenkel is gee-whiz all the way through and Wilkinson, the great football coach, never questions even questionable strategy. To be fair, that’s the way it was, at least on college football broadcasts. After the game, Fleming doesn’t talk to any players or ask any strategic questions during his appearances in the locker rooms, including about why Texas went for it on fourth down, or how that pass play to Randy Peschel unfolded, why Texas went for two after its first touchdown, why Arkansas just didn’t take the field goal that would have put it up 17-8 … All of that’s jarring, but it wasn’t atypical of those times.

    I’ll bet if you’re looking here, you know the game was far from perfectly played, but that in some ways makes it even more interesting. The Nixon entourage arrival is fun to watch. Look for Texas Congressman George Bush walking with Arkansas Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt and imagine Hammerschmidt saying of the roar from the stadium: “Hell, Bush, we’ve already scored!” It’s amazing to be reminded that the president and the many VIPs sat right in the middle of the stands. And history also shows us there were many, many dramatic things going on behind the scenes or even in full view that ABC just ignored — including the antiwar protest on the hill (you can see the peace sign when the broadcast pans the stadium after the game, but all are gone), the black students and supporters preparing to storm the field if the Arkansas band played “Dixie,” and even Bill Clinton listening on radio in London three days after writing his eventually controversial letter to Colonel Holmes, the head of Arkansas ROTC and the future father in law of Arkansas tailback Bill Burnett.

    Both schools had black scholarship players on their freshman teams, and Arkansas had walkon Hiram McBeth on its “B” team, but this was an all-white game in the dying days of football segregation in the South. And then, of course, there is Texas safety Freddie Steinmark’s courage — playing on a leg being eaten up by cancer. It would be amputated six days later after the cancer was diagnosed and he died in 1971. (I went to Steinmark’s Denver-area high school several years behind him, and that’s a major reason I became even more interested in this game.)

    At least on my DVD, and I assume on all copies, there are a couple of places where it looks like the film is caught in the projector, so to speak, on the print transferred to DVD, but it’s nothing major or ruinous.

    I also haven’t yet listened to the “extra” commentary by long-time Texas sports information director Bill Little and Texas halfback Ted Koy, who became a veterinarian. They’re great guys, and I’m assuming they added context and perspective to some of the things you see and hear.

    The only real “epilogue” material otherwise added is a bare-bones crawl saying what happened to…

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  • Larry Lively says:
    7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    THE GAME, December 27, 2010
    By 
    Larry Lively (Houston, Texas United States) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: ESPN Game of the Century: 1969 Texas Longhorns vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (DVD)
    I waited all year to see this game in 1969. Unfortunatly the US Army had other plans for me. I was shipped to Germany just one week prior to
    the game. A sergeant and I listened to the game on Armed Forces radio. This video was the first time I have seen the game. Even though I knew
    what the outcome of the game was, I really enjoyed watching it. Any Longhorn fan or anyone that loves great college football games should own
    a copy of this game. It ranks up there with the best ever played.

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  • Ken E. Leistner "Dr. Ken" says:
    6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Texas vs. Arkansas Commentary, February 21, 2010
    By 
    Ken E. Leistner “Dr. Ken” (Long Island, New York , USA) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: ESPN Game of the Century: 1969 Texas Longhorns vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (DVD)
    Relative to Mr. Luck’s comments,I was fortunate to receive a copy of the full broadcast made directly from the ABC master perhaps ten years ago and the quality just isn’t “good” compared to what we have become accustomed to. However,the quality “is what it is” and other than this, Mr. Frei’s comments are accurate. His book was absolutely excellent and in-depth, covered all of the bases for the relevant materials, and remains the best of the summaries for this momentous contest. I also agree with Mr. Frei that the DVD could have included more but as an historical piece, it is deserving of purchase and thank goodness, falls more towards the “old school” manner in which college football productions were presented rather than today’s ESPN media hyped, music-accommpanied, quick-cut addled messes. Mr. Frei’s book is an absolute must for any college football fan, the DVD is a nice adjunct.
    Dr. Ken Leistner
    […]

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