Tag Archives: rex nelson

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach at Little Rock Touchdown Club (Part 3)

Tyler Wilson

Earlier I wrote about where I think Arkansas could win a national championship with just two more wins.

Below is a portion of an article by Jim Harris of the website Arkansas 360:

AND ON BOBBY: Schlabach, on Arkansas’ coach: “I said when he was hired that Bobby Petrino would make Arkansas a contender for the national championship in three years. And hey, I’m from Atlanta and not many people there like the guy.”

BEEN THERE: Much talk and reflection among Touchdown Club hosts David Bazzel and Rex Nelson and prayer leader Gary Underwood were over Garrett Uekman’s untimely death Sunday in a University of Arkansas dormintory less than 24 hours after he’d been a part of the Hogs’ 44-17 win over Mississippi State in Little Rock.

ESPN’s Schlabach said he was encamped with the University of Miami’s football team five years ago when Bryan Pata was murdered during the season. Pata was gunned down in broad daylight outside his apartment as the season was winding down; five years later, no one has been arrested in the case.

“It’s one of the worse things that can happen,” said Schlabach, who had seen the reports the past 24 hours of the Little Rock native’s sudden passing, the cause of which hasn’t been determined. “It’s always said to see [a dream] end that way.”

As for how Arkansas’ players might react through the week and at LSU on Friday, Schlabach said, “Kids are very resilient at age 18 to 21.”

Related posts:

Video and story on Iowa St victory over Oklahoma State

Several pieces of the puzzle have to come together for Arkansas to have a chance at the national title. This was a big piece!!! Mark Schlabach of ESPN wrote this article below: AMES, Iowa — So what happens now? We’ve spent the past few weeks wondering what would happen to the BCS national championship race […]

Razorbacks’ road to national championship just got more simple

[+] Enlarge Before the BCS standings came out yesterday, it was the common belief that the Arkansas Razorbacks were possibly going to finish 11-1 and miss out on a BCS bowl, but now that has all changed. Arkansas is sitting pretty at number 3 and I no longer hope Auburn beats Alabama so we can […]

SEC week 12: SEC dominates BCS, Vandy gets ripped off by refs

This is an article on the SEC week 12: By Chris Low As it turns out, the weekend was a productive one for the SEC, even if there were more than a few shaky performances around the league against lesser opponents.Here’s a look at what we learned in Week 12:1. BCS takes on SEC flavor: Brad […]

Why is this victory over the Vols so sweet? Probably because of 71 and 98!! jh85

  Above is a picture from my camera at the game. Photo I have wondered why this victory meant over Tennessee meant so much to our Razorback Nation. I guess the answer is simply that we have lost so many close heartbreaking games to the Vols over the years and the 1971 and 1998 games […]


Rex Nelson on the Battle of the Ravine (Part 2)

Battle of the Ravine 2010

Uploaded by on Nov 2, 2010

This year, several events led up to the annual Battle of the Ravine, including a pep rally and Henderson Halloween in downtown Arkadelphia, a “bash” at the Barkman House, and the traditional tailgating. And, of course, the Reddies won the “Battle” with a 35-26 win over OBU!


Rex Nelson talks about last year’s battle of the ravine.

Crossing the ravine

I wrote last week about the 84th Battle of the Ravine in Arkadelphia. The game itself wasn’t as close as some past games had been as Henderson defeated Ouachita by a final score of 35-26.

But the weather was perfect, and both teams had talent as a crowd of almost 10,000 people looked on.

Something struck me as I spent the day at Henderson’s Carpenter-Haygood Stadium: From an economic and community development standpoint, Arkadelphia is finally getting its act together. A look at the election maps from Tuesday, unfortunately, shows that Clark County remains stuck in a one-party mentality that has stunted fresh thinking there for far too long. But that too will change at some point.

As noted in last week’s post, the football series between Ouachita and Henderson was halted from 1951 until 1963 due to excessive vandalism. Prior to that 1951 suspension, however, an energetic chapter of Arkadelphia Jaycees worked during the late 1940s to transform the Battle of the Ravine into a weeklong series of activities that people across the state and region would want to attend. Arkadelphia was perhaps the most progressive city in the southern half of the state back then.

As part of the economic and community development work I did during my 13 years in government, I constantly preached that communities must identify what makes them different and then build on those assets. Arkadelphia, for example, is different from other towns in the southern half of Arkansas because it’s the home of two four-year universities. That’s what sets it apart from Malvern, Camden, Magnolia, Monticello and all the rest.

And it already has this unique annual event — the one college football game in the country in which the visiting team actually walks to a road game since U.S. Highway 67 is all that separates the two stadiums.

After ending the spring Festival of Two Rivers a few years back, business and civic leaders in Arkadelphia struggled to come up with something new. As is so often the case in communities, the answer was right in front of them. The Battle of the Ravine is unique. They should build events around it, just as the Jaycees had done back in the 1940s, and then promote the festival statewide. I preached on that subject in appearances before the Arkadelphia Football Club and Leadership Clark County.

Fortunately, there’s a new generation of leaders now stepping forward in a city that has been stagnant from a population growth standpoint for decades. Those young leaders seized on the idea. Led by people such as Blake Bell of Edward Jones, they created a festival known as the Rally on the Ravine and came up with complementary events such as a golf tournament, a community pep rally and a road race.

Spurred by Bell and other graduates of Leadership Clark County, the group behind the Rally on the Ravine obtained sponsorship money from a variety of sources. Southern Bancorp was the title sponsor. The next two largest sponsors were the Ross Foundation and the Arnold Batson Turner & Turner law firm.

In the next tier of sponsors were Leadership Clark County, the Dawson Educational Cooperative, the Arkadelphia School District, the city of Arkadelphia, Summit Bank, Edward Jones, Vision Source, Treadway Electric, state Rep. Johnnie Roebuck, Print Mania, Minks Inc. Design and the two universities.

It was an unqualified success and no doubt will grow in future years. These young leaders should shoot for the stars. Occasionally, ESPN will take its “College GameDay” program to a small college. For years, Henderson sports information director Troy Mitchell has been working to get ESPN interested in the Battle of the Ravine. The cable network has yet to bite, missing an opportunity to show viewers across the country what small college football is really all about. Attracting ESPN to Arkadelphia could be one of the goals of the leadership group.

In a state that’s painted Razorback red this time each year, the football rivalry between Henderson and Ouachita has never received the attention it deserves. In fact, it sometimes get more attention outside the state than inside Arkansas.

A recent feature article in Touchdown Illustrated, a publication distributed during football games at colleges and universities across the country, began this way: “There is a small town in southern Arkansas where two rivers meet, with a highly traveled scenic highway and two institutions of higher learning within a stone’s throw of one another. This town is Arkadelphia, Ark., and one day each year it plays host to the most unique sports event in intercollegiate athletics.”

You read that correctly. A national publication called the Battle of the Ravine “the most unique sports event” in all of college sports.

Having started in 1895, it’s one of the oldest rivalries in the country. Harvard has been playing Yale since 1875 in what’s known simply as The Game. Amherst has been playing Williams since 1884 in what’s known as the Biggest Little Game in America. Army has been playing Navy since 1890. Alabama has been playing Auburn in the Iron Bowl since 1893.

But the Battle of the Ravine is older than rivalries such as Clemson vs. South Carolina, Ohio State vs. Michigan and Oklahoma vs. Texas. And you can’t get more evenly matched. Following Henderson’s victory last Satuday, the series is even at 39-39-6.

Ouachita athletic director David Sharp put it this way in the Touchdown Illustrated story: “There is not a more unique setting for a game. This is the only place where you can literally take a driver and a 3-wood and hit from one school’s stadium to the other.”

The story also reported on the pranks that are so much a part of this crosstown rivalry: “Along with the game are the shenanigans that lead up to that day. There are always pranks and practical jokes in which students from both schools participate. The pranks intensify during game week. Those involved in these pranks include members of both institutions’ current faculty, vice presidents and government officials. Even former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was involved in lighting Henderson’s homecoming bonfire a day earlier than scheduled.

“Other pranks include HSU sorority and fraternity members painting marshmallows in the school’s red and gray and having a crop-duster drop them on OBU’s side of the street; diesel fuel used to burn OBU into the grass on Henderson’s main campus; and Henderson students painting the Tiger statue. Ouachita students would sabotage the Henderson fountain, which is a focal point of the Henderson campus. … Students have been known to put purple dye or fizzies in the fountain.

“During game week, numerous monuments and memorials on both campuses are heavily covered in plastic to prevent them from being painted, as well as each school’s football stadium lights remain on throughout the evening. … The game won’t draw 100,000 fans, but rather 10,000, and each and every one will come away knowing they have been part of one of the most storied events in all of college football.”

To borrow the cliche, you simply can’t buy national attention that good.

Enrollment is up at both Henderson and Ouachita this summer. There seems to be a renewed spirit in the town. The Battle of the Ravine is simply one piece in a very large community development puzzle, but the crop of young leaders must build on the successes of last week as they work to help an Arkansas city finally achieve its potential.

Rex Nelson on the Battle of the Ravine (Part 1)

Rex Nelson knows more about the “Battle of the Ravine” than anyone else.

College football: Week 11 (Battle of the Ravine)

It’s the week of the Battle of the Ravine, the most unique rivalry in all of college football.

Ouachita Baptist University vs. Henderson State University.

The game will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday at Ouachita’s A.U. Williams Field in Arkadelphia.

If you’ve never been to one of these games, you owe it to yourself to attend.

Remember, it was on my Arkansas bucket list.

Larry Lacewell told me recently, “That was among the things I always wanted to go to. I never did it because I was coaching all those years. Last year, I picked up the paper, saw that it was Battle of the Ravine day and drove to Arkadelphia. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.”

The weather should be nice Saturday. And the 1 p.m. kickoff allows even those who live in Little Rock to be back home in time to watch the 5 p.m. Arkansas-Tennessee game on television.

Get there early. There will be a large tailgate party with all kinds of food available. The party will begin at 10 a.m. on the Henderson side of U.S. Highway 67.

You can park on either the Henderson side or the Ouachita side and walk to the game.

At about 11:45 a.m., the Henderson Reddies will walk to a road game.

Think about that for a moment.

Not fly. Not bus.

This is a college football rivalry in which the visiting team simply walks across the street.

It’s something every college football fan should see.

Also consider that the two schools have played each other in football 84 times through the years and the series is dead even at 39-39-6.

Dead even for a series that began in 1895: Isn’t that amazing?

The game has been decided by a touchdown or less 37 times through the years with Ouachita holding a 19-12-6 advantage in the close games.

Add to all of the tradition the fact that these are the two best Division II football teams in Arkansas this year.

Ouachita has already wrapped up the first Great American Conference title with records of 7-2 overall and 6-0 in conference play. Henderson would love nothing more than to cost the Tigers a trip to the NCAA Division II playoffs.

The series was suspended due to excessive vandalism from 1951 until 1963. I grew up about a block from A.U. Williams Field. I lived in Washington, D.C., for a few years in the 1980s, but I’ve only missed three of these games since the series resumed in 1963. I was 4 years old at the time. That means this will be my 46th Battle of the Ravine.

I hope you’ll join me in Arkadelphia on Saturday. You won’t regret it.

We were 7-2 on picks last week, making the record 66-18 for the season.

On to the picks for Week 11:

Arkansas 44, Tennessee 21 — The Hogs looked much better at home against South Carolina than they had looked in victories on the road at Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Poor Tennessee. This once-proud program finds itself without a victory in Southeastern Conference play. How bad has it gotten in Knoxville? Consider this: The starting kicker injured his leg in practice on Thursday of last week. The backup kicker pulled a muscle while warming up Saturday. Coach Derek Dooley had a nose guard practicing kicks while he made a call on his cell phone to the campus police. He asked the police to escort a redshirt freshman kicker named Derrick Brodus from his fraternity house to Neyland Stadium. That led to this great quote from Dooley: “It’s a good thing he wasn’t having too much fun on a Saturday afternoon. I told the coaches an intoxicated Brodus is better than nobody. Just get him here.”

Ouachita 31, Henderson 30 — This game should be close. This will only be Ouachita’s fourth home game of the season. The Tigers went on the road six times in an eight-week period and compiled a record of 5-1 in those six road games. They only lost at Delta State, the No. 1 team in NCAA Division II. Ouachita is the only college program at any level in the state to have compiled four consecutive winning seasons. The Tigers defeated Southeastern Oklahoma, 21-18, in Durant, Okla., last Saturday to secure the GAC crown. Henderson, meanwhile, posted a 16-10 nonconference victory over McKendree.

Arkansas State 32, Louisiana-Lafayette 28 — This is a huge game for the Red Wolves as they seek to win a Sun Belt Conference championship in the first year of the Hugh Freeze era. ASU is still alone atop the conference standings following a 39-21 win at Florida Atlantic. The Red Wolves are 7-2 overall and 5-0 in conference play. That’s the best start for an Arkansas State team since 1986. Louisiana-Lafayette comes to Jonesboro with records of 8-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play. ASU quarterback Ryan Aplin was 24 of 27 passing last Saturday for 244 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, the Ragin’ Cajuns scored two touchdowns in the final minutes of Saturday’s home finale for a 36-35 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Louisiana-Lafayette scored a touchdown with 2:05 left, recovered an onside kick and then scored again. The home crowd in Jonesboro (Hugh has them believing in northeast Arkansas) on Saturday afternoon should help the Red Wolves.

UCA 27, Texas State 24 — The Bears end the regular season with an important nonconference game against Texas State, a former Southland Conference opponent that’s moving up to the WAC. The game is important because the Bears need to win Saturday to be eligible for the playoffs. It would have to be an at-large berth, though, since Sam Houston State clinched the Southland Conference’s automatic berth last Saturday. Sam Houston would need to lose to Northwestern State this weekend for the Bears to win a share of the conference title. UCA won its sixth consecutive game last Saturday, 45-20 over Northwestern State. Texas State is 6-4. The wins have come by scores of 38-28 over Tarleton State, 35-26 over Stephen F. Austin, 38-12 over Nicholls, 21-14 over McNeese State, 46-21 over Lamar and 34-26 over Prairie View A&M. The losses have come by scores of 50-10 to Texas Tech, 45-10 to Wyoming, 38-28 to Southeastern Louisiana and 23-10 to Northwestern State.

Grady Fish Fry a big hit again for the 56th time

AR Sen. Mark Pryor praises Barack Obama (and Clinton arrives

I was sad to learn that the 56th Grady Fish Fry fell on the week I was gone to Boston. Last year I got to go and enjoyed meeting all the politicians like Pryor, Boozman, Lincoln, Darr and many others. This year Pryor was back again.He has been faithful to attend the Grady Fish Fry almost every year. However, in the clip above you will see that he was endorsing candidate Barrack Obama in 2008. Little did he know that Obama would not even get 40% in Arkansas then and because Obama has done so badly on the economy, he will be lucky to get 30% this time around. Below I have some links to previous posts I have made concerning Senator Pryor.

Rex Nelson just posted a fine piece on his experience this year and here ia portion of it.

Hot catfish at Grady

For the 56th time, they held the Grady Lions Club Fish Fry under the big trees of the Ned Hardin pecan grove.

It’s always held on the third Thursday in August. Always.

It was cooler than usual last night.

The crowd seemed bigger than it had been in recent years.

The fried catfish, fries, hushpuppies and sliced watermelon were as good as ever.

I checked my old calendars and was able to determine that this was the 15th time in the past 16 years that I’ve been to Grady on the third Thursday night in August. The only fish fry I missed during that stretch was in 2004. I was Gov. Mike Huckabee’s representative on the board of the Delta Regional Authority at the time, and we were interviewing candidates in a Memphis hotel that day for the DRA’s chief operating officer’s job.

I’ve written before that my favorite annual winter event is the Slovak Oyster Supper and my favorite annual summer event is the Grady Fish Fry. Both are rural Arkansas traditions.

Bubba Lloyd was behind the wheel last night. I figure that if you’re headed to a catfish supper in southeast Arkansas, you at least ought to have a Bubba driving.

First-time attendees Blake Eddins and Randy Ensminger joined us for the trip south.

More than one person remembered Blake from his days as a Razorback basketball player for Nolan Richardson.

Randy, meanwhile, is a member of the board of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum at New Orleans, and we found a fading sign that we’re hopeful the Hardins will donate to the museum. It advertises sorghum, sweet potatoes, pecans, cane syrup — all things Southern.

I have a feeling that Blake and Randy will be back at this event next August. They took it all in — the prisoners waiting tables, the prison band playing, the politicians making the rounds, the folks from all over southeast Arkansas visiting with each other and enjoying themselves.

As always, we visited at length with Sen. Mark Pryor, who also makes it a point not to miss this event.

It’s like something out of a movie. If you have any doubts that the South still lives, all you have to do is show up at the Hardin pecan grove on the third Thursday night in August and erase those doubts.

They start serving the fish each year at 4 p.m. They stop at 8 p.m. In between, hundreds of people make their way through the line and watch the amazing hushpuppy machine (constructed years ago from salvaged farm equipment) drop the batter (two hushpuppies at a time) into the hot grease.

My love for south and east Arkansas — areas of the state that are losing population and often are overlooked by the so-called opinion makers — is evident to those who read this blog. There are fine people and rich traditions in these areas of our state.

I attended the fish fry on a day that had started on a bright note. While having my first cup of coffee, I read in the newspaper that W.O. Prince is reopening his classic Riverfront Restaurant and Fish Market where U.S. Highway 70 crosses the Cache River at Biscoe.

For years, one of my regular stops on the old highway to Memphis was the place known to the locals simply as W.O.’s. You would turn down the gravel road to your right just before crossing the Cache River bridge when heading east. You would order your supper in the bait shop. You would then walk down to the boat that floated on the Cache. They would bring the food down the hill to you. The steaks were as good as the catfish.

They’ll serve lunch on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

They’ll serve dinner each Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.

They’re supposed to open today. I’ll make a road trip soon.

In thinking about east Arkansas landmarks such as W.O.’s and the Hardin pecan grove, I go back to the points I made in a newspaper column earlier this week. I see nothing on the horizon that leads me to believe that the population shift in this state from the east and the south to the north and the west will slow anytime soon.

People go where the jobs are. It’s that simple.

Grady is in Lincoln County. Biscoe is at the edge of Prairie County (my mother’s home county) just before Monroe County begins on the other side of the Cache. Places such as Lincoln, Monroe and Prairie counties have been losing population since the end of World War II, when the mechanization of agriculture meant that thousands of sharecroppers and tenant farmers were no longer required. Monroe County, in fact, lost more population than any county in Arkansas during the previous decade — 20.5 percent.

The rural-to-urban trend, of course, is a nationwide trend. It’s hard to believe that rural America now accounts for just 16 percent of the nation’s population…

Even as the population of many east and south Arkansas counties declines, their value to the state’s overall economy remains strong. That’s a fact that shouldn’t be lost on this state’s growing percentage of urbanites.

For me, the Grady Fish Fry represents more than a chance to eat fried catfish.

It represents all that is right about rural Arkansas.

Dear Senator Pryor, why not pass the Balance Budget Amendment? (Part 3 Thirsty Thursday, Open letter to Senator Pryor)

Dear Senator Pryor, Why not pass the Balanced  Budget amendment? As you know that federal deficit is at all time high (1.6 trillion deficit with revenues of 2.2 trillion and spending at 3.8 trillion). On my blog http://www.HaltingArkansasLiberalswithTruth.com I took you at your word and sent you over 100 emails with specific spending cut ideas. However, […]

Time again for Grady Fish Fry on fourth Thursday in August!!!

I went to the Grady Fish Fry last year and got to visit with Rex Nelson, Senator Pryor and Boozman, Lt. Gov. Mark Darr and many others. Below is a story by Rex Nelson on last year’s fish fry: Back to Grady (and other Arkansas favorites) At the first of every year, I mark the […]

Senator Pryor asks for Spending Cut Suggestions! Here are a few!(Part 108)

Senator Mark Pryor wants our ideas on how to cut federal spending. Take a look at this video clip below: Senator Pryor has asked us to send our ideas to him at cutspending@pryor.senate.gov and I have done so in the past and will continue to do so in the future. On May 11, 2011,  I […]

Dear Senator Pryor, why not pass the Balanced Budget Amendment? (Part 2 Thirsty Thursday, Open letter to Senator Pryor)

Dear Senator Pryor, Why not pass the Balanced  Budget Amendment? As you know that federal deficit is at all time high (1.6 trillion deficit with revenues of 2.2 trillion and spending at 3.8 trillion). On my blog http://www.HaltingArkansasLiberalswithTruth.com I took you at your word and sent you over 100 emails with specific spending cut ideas. However, […]

Potential 2012 Headlines: Beebe beats Pryor, Hillary beats Obama

It is my view that if the economy keeps stinking that Republicans will have a field day  in November of 2012. However, the same principle holds true that challengers to Democrats will be  very successful in Democratic primaries. In Arkansas many have longed for another Clinton in the White House. Could it happen? It is my […]

Time again for Grady Fish Fry on fourth Thursday in August!!!

I went to the Grady Fish Fry last year and got to visit with Rex Nelson, Senator Pryor and Boozman, Lt. Gov. Mark Darr and many others. Below is a story by Rex Nelson on last year’s fish fry:

Back to Grady (and other Arkansas favorites)

At the first of every year, I mark the annual Grady Lions Club Catfish Supper on my calendar.

It’s always the third Thursday in August. Always.

It’s always in the Ned Hardin pecan grove.

And it’s almost always hot.

Commonly known as the Grady Fish Fry, it’s among my favorite annual events. I’ve written about it before.

In an election year, the politicians flock to Grady. Among congressional and statewide officeholders and candidates, I saw Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Sen. Mark Pryor, Rep. John Boozman, Jim Keet, Shane Broadway, Mark Darr and Beth Anne Rankin there last night.

There likely were others who left before I arrived or maybe I just just missed seeing them. The event begins at 4 p.m. and ends at 8 p.m. As I said in a post at this time last year, the Grady Fish Fry marks the unofficial end of summer for me. Bring on football season.

I also mentioned last year (but must mention again) what is perhaps the most fascinating contraption in the state — the famed Grady hushpuppy machine, constructed decades ago from pieces of equipment found on area farms. One after another, the huspuppies come out of the machine and are put into the hot grease. If they ever stop using it, it should be donated to the Smithsonian as an example of American ingenuity.

I had a great visit last night with Sherwood Haisty, 85, a Lions Club member who has been a part of 40 of the 55 fish fries. He told me how the members of the Lions Club once worked for days in the hot sun setting up tables, bringing in the products, etc.

Then somebody had the bright idea of asking the Arkansas Department of Correction for help. For years now, it has been a mutually beneficial relationship.

For the Lions Club members, there’s a captive workforce, if you will.

For those who work at the nearby state prisons, there’s a carrot they can dangle in front of inmates – in exchange for good behavior, you can get out for one night and receive a great meal in the process.

Those men from around Arkansas in their white prison garb who are handing out slices of watermelon, filling glasses of iced tea and cleaning off the tables are now just as much a part of the event as the giant pecan trees in the Hardin grove. And the prison band sounded better than ever last night. The lead vocalist has true talent.

Think about it. There are politicians shaking hands. Inmates wearing white and guards wearing blue. A pecan orchard. People cooling themselves with the funeral home-style fans handed out by the politicians. Catfish. Hushpuppies. Watermelon. It just doesn’t get more Southern. It’s like something out of a movie.

Sadly, as the population of rural southeast Arkansas grows older and smaller, we lose members of the Lions Club each year. Rev. Clyde Venable passed away in 2009. Earlier this year, charter members Bill Blankenship and R.C. Johnson died.

Hopefully, there’s some young blood in the area to keep this landmark event going.

A lot of people help out. Hardin Farms supplies the watermelons. Simmons First supplies the plates. St. Michaels Farms supplies catfish. I could go on and on.

Money raised from this annual event (it’s $12 each for all you can eat) allows the Grady Lions Club to provide college scholarships, pay for eye exams and pay for glasses for those who could not otherwise afford them.