My Dinner With Nolan Richardson: Remembering Arkansas' 1994 Championship

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My Dinner With Nolan Richardson: Remembering Arkansas' 1994 Championship

OK—so maybe that headline is a tad misleading. Along with approximately 500 other people, I was fortunate enough to attend last Saturday’s dinner honoring the 1994 national championship team. Here are some notes and observations from a very memorable evening, one that featured remarks from John Pelphrey, Nolan, and all of the attending ‘94 team members.

• Pelphrey began his remarks by saying, 'It was my understanding that when Corliss and Scotty left, they still had one year of eligibility remaining. 'Guys, I only need you for three games,' he said." [At that point, the Hogs had three regular-season games left.]

• Nolan was in a great mood, laughing heartily throughout the evening. At one point during his talk, he offered support and encouragement for Pelphrey and the current team. He asked for fans to be patient. He looked directly at Pelphrey and said, “You’ve got some time. You’ve got some time.” And then he quickly joked, “Now, you don’t have a lot of time here.”

In closing, he noted that many people had commented on his gray hair. “I’m just trying to look like the man who fired me,” he quipped.

• One of the more moving moments came when Roger Crawford took the microphone. He directed his comments to his former teammates and lamented that so many of them had fallen out of touch with each other and told them they must be better about this in the future. “We’re a family,” he said. As his comments drew to a close, he appeared to be on the verge of tearing up.

Darnell Robinson also struck a reflective tone when he said, “I see everybody here with their kids, and I think, ‘Wow, we are getting old, aren’t we?’”

• Craig Tyson, a forward who never played in a regular season game for the Hogs because of knee problems, had some poignant remarks as well. “My comments are going to be as brief as my career,” he joked.

But he then got serious and told Richardson that he’d never thanked him for the opportunities that Richardson had given him. “I’d like to now,” Tyson said and then shook Nolan’s hand. It was a very nice moment. A lady sitting next to me said, “Ahh. Bless his heart.”

• Reggie Merritt is one entertaining dude. He had the crowd laughing for much of his time at the microphone.

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