Camp­bell re­turn­ing for honor

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - CLAY HENRY

It was a flat-out ruse. Louis Camp­bell agreed to an in­ter­view based on the con­text that he would pro­vide real in­side per­spec­tive on two of the great foot­ball minds of the last 60 years: Frank Broyles and Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Oh, that was cov­ered in the in­ter­view, but the real pur­pose was to lure Camp­bell into our fa­vorite hobby, talk­ing fly ty­ing and fly fish­ing.

Camp­bell is my best fish­ing buddy. I have oth­ers, but they all take a back seat to the now re­tired foot­ball coach and full-time fly fish­er­man.

We spent a lit­tle time ty­ing flies one night this week af­ter a 30-minute in­ter­view that will also serve as an op­por­tu­nity to write that the Arkansas let­ter­men waited too long to name Camp­bell to the UA Sports Hall of Honor. He’ll be in­ducted the night be­fore the TCU game in Septem­ber.

Ac­tu­ally, Camp­bell was elected to the Hall of Honor three years ago, but he didn’t know it. That was put on hold be­cause in­ductees have to at­tend and Camp­bell was go­ing to be busy on the Fri­day night be­fore the first UA home game as the foot­ball coach at Sheridan High School. He’ll move back to Fayet­teville when his house is ready in Au­gust.

Camp­bell, 67, fi­nally stepped away from coach­ing this win­ter, al­though there is a part-time job in the works. He’ll serve as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the Arkansas Foot­ball Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion. It’s an ad­min­is­tra­tive

po­si­tion he can do on the days that it’s not pos­si­ble to fly fish.

I hate to tell the or­ga­ni­za­tion, but that isn’t a lot of days. I’ve been along when it’s been well below freez­ing, snow­ing or well over 100 de­grees. Camp­bell is tough.

How tough? There was a day on the river when doc­tors fi­nally re­leased him af­ter a to­tal knee re­place­ment. Well, they re­leased him for some things, al­though wade fish­ing wasn’t men­tioned. He fell down a steep path to the river, tum­bling on rocks and tear­ing his waders.

I thought it best to aban­don the fish­ing trip. Camp­bell’s arm and hand were bleed­ing. There was no telling what he’d done to the knee. Camp­bell did ad­mit that there was plenty of pain, but there was no turn­ing back. Fish were ris­ing as we stared out into the White River.

So we fished and fished some more. We climbed up the bank about 10 hours later af­ter catch­ing well more than 200 fish.

“Yeah, it hurt,” he said. “But it hurt pretty good.”

The trip home that day — like al­ways — was full of rich stories about coach­ing. Yes, I’ve heard stories about Broyles and Bryant. There were many about his days with Pat Jones, Danny Ford, Hous­ton Nutt, John McKay and oth­ers.

It was dur­ing his time on McKay’s staff in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers that the for­mer Ra­zor­back de­cided it was time to head back to Fayet­teville. Jack Crowe needed to re­tool his de­fense. Camp­bell, along with Joe Kines, ac­com­plished that mis­sion, but a loss to The Citadel bounced Crowe out of Di­vi­sion I coach­ing.

Camp­bell had bounced around at Alabama (with two stints), SMU, Ok­la­homa State and at Tampa be­fore he re­al­ized that his fam­ily had no roots. Louis and wife, Ila Sue, both of Ham­burg, were hav­ing a hard time teach­ing sons Shep and Stead­man that they were re­ally Arkansans. They fixed that.

UCLA de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Bobby Field was Camp­bell’s team­mate at Arkansas, two years ahead. Field got his start in coach­ing as a grad as­sis­tant un­der Bryant at Alabama. That’s also how Camp­bell got his start.

Af­ter first try­ing to talk Camp­bell out of a ca­reer in coach­ing, Broyles made the call to Bryant.

The com­par­i­son ques­tions about Broyles and Bryant do seem ap­pro­pri­ate. Both coached from the tower, al­though in dif­fer­ent ways.

“Coach Bryant was mainly con­cerned with the of­fense,” Camp­bell said. “He let Coach Donahue han­dle the de­fense. It was the of­fense that he was al­ways di­rectly coach­ing.

“Coach Broyles was more in­volved with all phases. He would get in­volved with what ever he felt needed at­ten­tion. He might be re­ally in­volved in staff meet­ings with the de­fense, but the next morn­ing he’d be in the of­fen­sive meet­ings. He went back and forth and had his hand on ev­ery sin­gle thing.”

My wife al­ways smiles when I tell her there’s go­ing to be a trip to the river with Camp­bell.

“You will come back a bet­ter per­son af­ter a day with Louis,” she said. “Go and have fun.”

Yes, there are times when foot­ball talk sur­faces. I’ve heard all of the stories about the three in­ter­cep­tions against Ten­nessee in the 1971 Lib­erty Bowl.

“It’s the thing that most peo­ple re­mem­ber me for,” Camp­bell said. “To be hon­est, that was re­ally the high­light. I don’t think any­one re­mem­bers my se­nior year, the next sea­son. We had to beat Texas Tech in the last game for 6-5. That didn’t get you a bowl back then.”

There will be a topper in Septem­ber at the in­duc­tion cer­e­mony.

“If you are a Ra­zor­back, I re­ally don’t think any­thing you can do can beat go­ing into the Hall of Honor,” Camp­bell said. “Dean We­ber called me this spring to tell me. He did say that I’d been voted in three years ago, but they didn’t tell me un­til I could come.

“I un­der­stood, but what if I’d have died?”

The brown trout on the White River would have caught a real break.

“Yeah, I’m go­ing to try to put a hurt on them,” Camp­bell said. “I’m go­ing to try to find out how many days you can fish in a year.”

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