Tuesday, May 28, 2024

AR-Sen: A Little More About That Photo

It’s not that I particularly care that John Boozman used logos, names, and images associated with the University of Arkansas football program. I mean, yeah, it seemed a little odd to me, just given that it is a state institution and all, but whatever.

THAT SAID, as it has become an issue, I figured I would do a little digging. I contacted Steve Voorhies at the U of A and asked, generally, if the University found Boozman’s changes satisfactory, given that he still uses “Razorback Stadium,” “Coach Frank Broyles,” and a still photo of an actual game (which, I noted to Voorhies, contained a Razorback logo). His response was that, yes, they were satisfied.

When I followed-up and asked specifically about the game photo, Voorhies explained that, because the photo was one of Boozman’s “personal pictures and possessions documenting” that he was on the team, Voorhies’s understanding was that the school was not in a position to tell Boozman that he could not use it. (He then noted that he would have someone else get in touch with me about this issue.)

Initially, that explanation seemed (somewhat) satisfactory.  Then I looked at the photo again, however, and thought to myself, “self, isn’t it pretty unlikely that someone 1971 or 1972 who was taking a photo for young Johnny’s scrapbook would be at field level, armed with the kind of telephoto lens and fast shutter speed necessary for such a clear photo?”  So, I started poking around the ol’ internets.

It turns out, that photo is not Boozman’s “personal picture;” rather, it is a snapshot of a page from a 1973 U of A preseason publication (media guide, most likely), which Boozman’s people apparently cropped. The original looked like this:

Armed with the year of the game, I went in search of the score, mainly because I figured Boozman would specifically choose a photo from a game that Arkansas won, likely in some memorable fashion.  So, let’s see…Arkansas played Texas A&M on November 4, 1972.  The Hogs entered the game at 5-2, with an inside shot at the Cotton Bowl, while A&M came into the contest at 1-6, which included six straight losses.

Final score: Texas A&M 10, Arkansas 7.  Ouch.

The USA Today College Football Encyclopedia described the game thusly:

Lowly Aggies (2-6) wrecked Arkansas’ Cotton Bowl hopes for 2nd straight year, picking off 6 passes by QB Joe Ferguson.  DT Boice Best and his Texas A&M linemates supplied pass-rush heat, while CB Ralph Murski and S Larry Ellis each had 2 INTs.  Ellis set up lone Aggies TD, 2y run by FB Brad Dusek, with 26y INT RET to Arkansas 26YL. Hogs (5-3) answered with 11-play, 76y drive that ended on FB Marsh White’s 2y TD run. Razorbacks would come no closer to scoring again as Texas A&M captured its 1st series win at home since Bear Bryant’s 1956 SWC champions turned trick against Razorbacks.

Double ouch.

[Quick aside: I did some factual checking on the photo as well.  That’s not Carl Roaches, nor is it a special teams play; that’s safety Larry Ellis being tackled after one of his two INTs.  If I were a cynic, I might suggest that the pre-internet-age Arkansas athletic department made this “mistake” on purpose, figuring it sounded better and that no one would notice.]

Why would Boozman use a photo of a bad play in a particularly bad game in his ad?  That’s easy — he had to use that one because there simply aren’t many photos of backup offensive linemen.  You see, at the risk of being somewhat unkind, Boozman’s career as a Hog was a lot like his career as a congressman.  Sure he made the team/got elected, but his actual performance didn’t give Arkansans much reason to be excited.

In 1971, his first year as a letterman, Boozman was a backup right tackle.  Yet, in 1972, rather than, say, moving into a starting right tackle role, Boozman got moved inside (read: demoted) to play backup offensive guard.  In the A&M game, Boozman and the other guards were unable to slow DT Boice Best, who, along with Max Bird and Todd Christopher, had Joe Ferguson running for his life and making ill-advised throws all day long.  (This was Ferguson’s worst game as a Hog.)  One might even suggest that it’s indicative of Boozman’s football career that one of the worst games played by Arkansas’s offensive line during Boozman’s two years as a letterman was the only game Boozman could find a picture of himself playing in.

So, if you’re scoring at home — or if you’re alone — you’ve got (1) Boozman’s people determining that removing Hog logos would satisfy the school, then failing to remove one; (2) U of A being willing to overlook that missed logo because they thought the photo was from Boozman’s private collection when, in reality, someone lifted it without credit or citation from a 1973 U of A publication; and (3) the hilarity of knowing that the photo is a snapshot of the end result of particularly poor play by the guys (including Boozman) who were supposed to protect Joe Ferguson.  Well played, Mr. Boozman.

By the way, if (3) isn’t a great metaphor for what happens if we let Republicans like Boozman protect the people of Arkansas, then grits ain’t groceries, my friends.

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