As reported by a great series of articles on Arkansas Sports 360, Nolan Richardson spoke at the Northwest Arkansas Tip-Off Club earlier today, and his remarks indicated that he's put a lot of the bitterness from the last several years behind him. He led off his speech with a hog call (that video really should find its way to YouTube) and followed up by speaking in depth about his positive feelings for the team, the state and the fans.
Personally, I've always felt like Nolan's exit from the team and the subsequent treatment of his legacy (in which the school shamefully ignored the 1994 team on the 10-year anniversary of Arkansas' only undisputed major sport national championship) to be one of the sadder and more disappointing things about Razorback sports. Regardless of who was responsible for the nastiness and negativity on either side, it just felt wrong.
In his article on the speech, Arkansas Sports 360 editor Jim Harris sums up the situation more eloquently than I could, so I'll just quote him directly:
"It's time for Arkansas to honor the 1994 national championship team with a big to-do next season, the 15th anniversary. It's time to name the basketball court after Nolan Richardson, because whether or not you agreed with his feelings about his ouster in 2002, it's Richardson's style and winning that created the need for 19,000 seats for basketball spectators instead of the 9,000 in the building that preceded it.
It's Eddie Sutton who made Arkansans love basketball and travel in great numbers in March, but it's Richardson who made them go crazy about it and expect to contend for national championships regularly. It's why Stan Heath's 21 wins and an NCAA Tournament appearance last year wasn't good enough. It's why much is expected of first-year coach John Pelphrey."
That sounds right to me. Let's leave all the bad feelings in the past and recognize the man and his teams for what they accomplished. It's about time!
(more at www.razorbackexpats.com)