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‘22 Straight’ comes at the right time 

It’s these days, when the football Arkansas Razorbacks are in the dumps, that their longtime fans start longing again for the good ol’ days. I felt that way a few minutes after the game with Georgia had ended Oct. 23 in Fayetteville, another tough loss, and went to Reynolds Razorback Stadium’s Hog Heaven merchandise store to buy what looked like the last two copies — one for myself, one for my father-in-law, Bob Newton of Warren — of the DVD “22 Straight.” It’s a two-disc extravaganza for the real Razorback nut, and it’s going to come in very handy during the holidays if the Hogs aren’t bowling, which seems likely now. That the DVD runs a nickel shy of $30 should be of no consequence for the Hog fan, especially one who vaguely remembers those days. Besides a disc focusing on the winning streak, the collection includes a retrospective on its architect, Frank Broyles, the UA’s 79-year-old athletic director. My first introduction to Razorback football was watching on a brand-new, cutting-edge “color” TV in my grandmother’s living room in Beebe when this Razorback team beat Nebraska 10-7 on Jan. 1, 1965, in the Cotton Bowl to finish the season undefeated. I was still too young to appreciate what it all meant, but I knew these Hogs were a winning team. No one beat them, no one. People also seemed ultra excited back then, as 1965 moved on toward fall. Radio featured songs about the Razorback heroes, and NBC was coming to Fayetteville to broadcast the Hogs’ game with Texas in mid-October. The local radio stations in Pine Bluff — they all were part of the Hogs radio network back then — were distributing small “Beat Texas” posters for your car window that weekend, and the Hogs indeed did go on to beat Texas in a thrilling, fourth-quarter rally. The Razorbacks were serious stuff, indeed. I didn’t know the Razorbacks could lose until Jan. 1, 1966, when a 7-3 LSU, with all its injured players healthy again, upset the Hogs 14-7, ending the nation’s longest winning streak of that decade at 22 games. I didn’t know the Hogs could lose in the regular season until, somehow, they couldn’t manage to score on a dreary day in Fayetteville the next season, and Baylor escaped with a late touchdown after the Hogs botched their attempted “pooch” kick, a play-call that will live in infamy among the old-timers. Larry Foley and Jim Borden, veteran behind-the-scenes Arkansas television people with sports backgrounds, decided last year the time was nearly now or never to put together a documentary on that great era of Hog football and the people involved, and hence came “22 Straight.” They had no budget, put it together for the love of the subject, and got a lot of help from friends for interviews outside of Fayetteville that they couldn’t do themselves. Foley and I recently were part of a panel judging short film submissions to the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival’s open-screening program. Foley told me the most fun he had was talking to those stars of the 1964 national championship team, “and especially hearing some of the stories we couldn’t put in the film.” Jerry Jones, Ken Hatfield, Jim Williams, Fred Marshall — the list goes on of many great Hogs who helped forge the win streak — recall for us again how such a run of success came about, built from the dumps of a 5-5 1963 season that ended with a win the day after President Kennedy was assassinated (most of the nation’s college football teams decided not to play, but Texas Tech had already arrived from Lubbock on Nov. 22). Foley and Borden weave historical footage of the day into the football highlights for an interesting perspective. The reason I’m bringing up “22 Straight” now is that it’s part of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute’s Reel Film Festival, scheduled for the Main Library in Little Rock in conjunction with the Clinton Presidential Center celebration. “22 Straight” will be screened on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 10:30 a.m., with Foley on hand to talk about the experience of making the documentary. The good news is, “22 Straight” is accessible to folks who can’t make that screening. It’s being distributed by the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network and by Hogwired.com, the university’s media web outlet. But, instead of having to wait until near-about Christmas to get a copy or to pick it up for a gift, it’s being sold at the Razorback games in the UA’s Hog Heaven merchandise store and the Hogwired portable merchandise van. Wal-Mart would love to pick up the DVD, and that would mean the likely instant distribution of thousands of copies to Arkansans, but ARSN hasn’t moved in that direction — yet. I’m just glad it moved in the DVD direction after putting its recent offerings on VHS tape. It is a great gift for the football fan, even those who didn’t know the Hogs could win 10 games in one season. Well, they did — twice in a row in fact.
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