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Hugo Bezdek and the 1909 Razorbacks

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Hugo Bezdek and the 1909 Razorbacks

According to newspaper accounts and the history of the university, the Arkansas football coach Hugo Bezdek stepped down from the train to address the throng of students that came to meet the team. It was during his recounting of the 16-0 win over LSU that Coach Bezdek was to have said that the team played:

"like a wild band of Razorback hogs."

The name resonated with the students and the newspapers, and from that moment forward, Arkansas teams were known as Razorbacks.In 2009, the Razorback Athletic Department held an event to reenact the arrival at the Fayetteville train station, complete with a local actor, David Wright, arriving on an Arkansas & Missouri passenger train car on Dickson Street. The event was the kick off of 100 Years of the Razorback, a season-long, all-sport celebration of the 100th year of the mascot. Wright performed as Bezdek in an earlier university event.

The real Coach Bezdek arrived at Fayetteville after learning the game from none other than Amos Alonzo Stagg at University of Chicago where he was an All-American fullback. His first coaching job was at University of Oregon in 1906, arriving in Fayetteville in 1908. He coached Arkansas until 1912, returning to Oregon in 1913. He was coach for Penn State from 1918 to 1929, and was the athletic director for the Nittany Lions until 1936. He holds a unique place in American sports history as the only person to be the manager of a Major League Baseball franchise, the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1917 to 1919, and the head coach of an NFL franchise, the inaugural coach of the Cleveland Rams in 1938. He is a member of the Collegiate Football Hall of Fame.

The LSU game and team arrival, from the 1910 edition of
The Cardinal

"Mississippi was schedule to visit Arkansas the following Saturday, Nov. 6, but the horrible picture of overwhelming defeat loomed up before them with such a telling effect that at the last moment they had barely enough courage to cancel the game and then collapsed. But Arkansas suffered little inconvenience from the failure of "Ole Miss" to meet her engagement. Bezdek spent the following two weeks testing every portion of his football machine. Thursday evening, Nov. 11, Arkansas’ warriors left for Memphis where on the following Saturday they met Louisiana. Long before the train pulled in, the depot was crowded with enthusiastic U. of A. students who gathered to express their sincerest wishes for a victory in the coming contest. Then came patient wating until Saturday, when Arkansas was to appear before thousands of Southern spectators. It was an excited crowd that gathered at the Western Union office that afternoon and evening awaiting returns form the game. Finally a short report of the first half came announcing that the score stood 5 to 0 in favor of Arkansas. Then the fun started. There was rejoicing in the U. of A. camp and preparations were being made for a jubilee. As the time approached for the final report, the trong began to crowd around the telegraph office again. Its words were few, but they meant much to anxious students. "Brilliant game, Arkansas 15, Louisiana 0." In one game Arkansas had placed herself in the front rank on the Southern gridiron. On the return trip, Arkansas stopped in Arkadelphia, where they defeated Ouachita College by the score of 56 to 0. The team arrived home Tuesday morning and no team was ever given a more royal welcome than was Bezdek’s warriors on their return from Memphis."



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