Arkansas players feel heat of Texas rivalry even though few remember it
FAYETTEVILLE - Three of the Razorbacks' four captains grew up in Arkansas.
Sr OT BREY COOK
The oldest, fifth-year senior safety Alan Turner of Junction City, was born Oct. 21, 1991, two days after Arkansas and Texas closed their Southwest Conference rivalry with Arkansas winning 14-13 in Little Rock.
So firsthand memories of the Arkansas vs. Texas rivalry don't exist among them, the team captains said Monday.
But through oral tradition, Arkansas vs Texas has been handed down to senior offensive tackle Brey Cook of Springdale Har-Ber, fourth-year junior quarterback Brandon Allen of Fayetteville and Turner.
Cook lived all his life one town north of the Razorbacks before attending the UA.
Now his last college game will be Monday night Dec. 29 on ESPN against those Texas Longhorns in the Texas Bowl at the NFL's Houston Texans' NRG Stadium.
"The two teams you didn't like growing up were LSU and Texas," Cook said Monday. "You really didn't know why, but they were just the bad guys."
So finishing against Texas, Cook said, was something he thought about when he was barely old enough to think.
"Especially being from here, you don't dream about teams in the NFL and all that," Cook said. "You dream of beating Texas in Texas as a Razorback. To be able to do that as a captain and a senior is a very special opportunity."
The son of longtime assistant football coach Bobby Allen (current director of high school relations), Brandon Allen was just seven years old whenhis dad coordinated Houston Nutt's Razorback defense to a 27-6 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas on New Year's Day 2000.
"I was really little when we used to play them," Brandon Allen said. "But I always remember it being a big game and the atmosphere and how big a rivalry it was and what it means for both sides to win a game like this. I am excited about it."
Turner's Junction City neck of the woods geographically makes for a greater rivalry with LSU than Texas, but that old Arkansas vs. Texas rivalry flames there, too.
"Oh, yeah, I kind of know about the tradition," Turner said. "It's just great to be a part of it and be able to be in the game against Texas. I know it's a great rivalry. There hasn't been a game in a while but just to be a part of it..."
Trey Flowers, the senior defensive end and defensive co-captain with Turner while Allen and Cook captain the offense, hails from Huntsville, Ala., but he's been around Arkansas long enough to pick up Arkansas' burning to beat the Burnt Orange vibes.
"I heard through the grapevine that it was a great rivalry," Flowers said. "They don't like us. We don't like them. We just want to take that to the field."
Flowers said the rivalry manifested immediately with Sunday's bowl pairings announcements.
"We understood there's a lot of guys here from Arkansas, so they most definitely understand the rivalry," Flowers said. "And we have a lot of guys here from Texas, so they understood the rivalry. It was most definitely happy. That was the biggest bowl we were looking forward to that we could get, so we were happy, all of us."
Allen said the the Razorbacks' Texas-based players seemed to be taking this Arkansas-Texas rivalry to heart as much or more than the home-grown Razorbacks.
"I have talked to a few of them," Allen said. "And I know they are pumped about going home to Texas to play a game especially against a big school like Texas. I don't know if all of them were recruited by Texas. This is a big game for them to show what they are capable of and why they chose Arkansas."
The Razorbacks' first bowl practice early Sunday afternoon was before their bowl assignment had been designated.
They will practice Wednesday and Saturday this week while they otherwise prepare for final exams. Bielema and his staff will spend most of this week on the recruiting road.