Last week, Lou Holtz came to Conway to speak at the Reynolds Performance Hall over at the University of Central Arkansas.
It was just about the most enjoyable two hours I have spent in a while.
Part motivational speaker, part standup comedian, Holtz has his performance down to an art. He even closed with a magic trick.
Holtz is good. Real good. He’s 82 years old, but still sharp as a tack.
He spoke for a little over an hour, without a single note and without missing a beat.
Holtz was already quite familiar with Conway, reminding folks that when the Hogs played Little Rock games, they stayed here at a hotel the night before.
He had spent a good part of this day in Conway. He met with UCA coaches and players. He mentioned the purple and gray striped field in his speech.
I had given my father and brother tickets to the event for Christmas. I’m glad I got them early, for the event was completely sold out.
My first brush with Holtz was about 15 years ago. I had been in Palm Beach, Florida, for a convention.
The morning of check out, I was standing outside the hotel waiting on my cab to take me to the airport.
No one else was around. To my left I noticed someone walk up to the curb about 15 feet away. I glance over and it’s Holtz.
After a few moments of disbelief, I start to gather myself to turn and say something dumb like, “Hey coach, I’m from Arkansas.”
But before I could, a limo pulls up and Holtz hops in and is gone.
I did get the opportunity to meet him a few years ago when he spoke to the Little Rock Touchdown Club.
He was kind enough to autograph my Hog Hat. It’s an original Uncle Heavy version from the 1970’s.
It’s now signed by Holtz, Frank Broyles, Houston Nutt, Bobby Petrino, and Ken Hatfield.
Like other Hog fans, I hope new coach Chad Morris can win enough in the coming years to earn a spot on it too.
After Holtz finished his monologue, the event was opened up for questions.
One of the first to walk up to the microphone was former Hog player Muskie Harris.
Holtz invited him up on stage, where Harris told his old coach that there were about a dozen more of his players in the crowd.
Holtz brought them all up on the stage, where they stayed for the rest of the Q and A.
Their interactions made the night even more special for Holtz and the audience.
Now, I just knew that at some point during the evening, some how, some way, there would be a Hog Call.
And sure enough, once all those players got on stage, the Woo Pig Sooie started.
It was a just teensy bit awkward, calling the Hogs on the Bear campus.
But when you invite one of the most beloved Razorback coaches in history to anywhere the in the Natural State, it’s bound to happen.