FAYETTEVILLE — Barry Switzer wasn't watching Arkansas play Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday.
So when Switzer got a notification on his iPhone that said ULM had beaten the Razorbacks, the former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys coach said he couldn't believe it.
"I looked and said, 'That’s a mistake,'" said Switzer, who was the guest speaker at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club meeting Wednesday. "I looked again and Arkansas had gotten beat in overtime. That shocked me.”
Switzer, who lettered at Arkansas from 1957-59 and was an assistant coach in 1964-65, wasn't alone in his surprise. It was the reaction around the country.
But the former coach, who won three national titles at Oklahoma and a Super Bowl with the Cowboys in 1995, said Wednesday there's a reason it happens. He pointed to scholarship restrictions in college football, which have helped smaller programs carry more talent into games against bigger programs. Especially at skill positions.
"Everybody’s got skill and speed and quarterbacks," Switzer said. "The parity is not what it used to be. …
"So you’ve got to be ready to play every game. It’s hard for fans to understand that. That’s how it really is out there today."
So Switzer said Arkansas' now must put its efforts into bouncing back from the disappointment. He couldn't recall losing to a team like ULM when he coached at Oklahoma, but said he endured his share of nightmare days as a college coach. He pointed out the 31-6 loss to Arkansas in the 1978 Orange Bowl.
Switzer said there's no doubt "fans think about it all week long," but added "football teams can't."
So Arkansas' challenge is putting the disappointment aside to prepare for Alabama.
"Football teams are resilient. They’re young people. They come back," Switzer said. "I’m not sure (the ULM loss) won’t make them better. It’s hard to believe that, but psychologically, I think it’s maybe a plus for Arkansas for the kids going into the Alabama game. They’re not going to be any way favored to win or given a chance. If they get their quarteback back, they’ve got a chance because they’ll reach down a little bit deeper because of what happened.”
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau