Many of our favorite Razorback memories involve Ken Hatfield’s wonderful back-to-back Cotton Bowl teams of the late 1980s. Therefore, it was a real thrill to get the chance to speak last week with James Rouse, who teamed with with fellow running back Barry Foster to give those Hogs a mighty one-two punch in the backfield.
A Razorback from 1985 to 1989, Rouse ranks sixth on the U of A’s list of career rushing leaders with 2,887 yards, and only Bill Burnett (46) and Darren McFadden (41) have more career rushing touchdowns than Rouse’s 38. The Little Rock native, who went on to play a couple of seasons with the Chicago Bears, now lives in his hometown and is a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch. In part one of our Q&A, he talks about the day Tony Jones broke his heart, which team he got the most fired up to play against (you’ll never guess!) and how his teams stack up against other squads in Razorback history.
Your Razorback career saw a lot of really big wins. What was your favorite one? On the flip side, what was the most disappointing loss?
As fans, you guys are probably going to choose the same one I’m going to choose. I would say it was probably the Houston game in Little Rock, with Andre Ware, the Heisman Trophy candidate [editor’s note: and eventual winner]. Just going back and forth and ultimately coming out to win the game — for me, that was one of my favorite games that I played in. It was so exciting, playing against a Heisman Trophy candidate, and we came out on top.
It really seemed like every time each team had the ball, you pretty much had to score because you knew the other guys —
Oh yeah. We knew going into the game against the Run and Shoot, which was a new form of offense that everybody was trying to implement, that we would have to score every time or at least have the defense hold them once or twice in order for us to catch our breath. It felt like whoever had the ball last was going to win the game, and that’s kind of how it happened.
On the flip side, I would say the most disappointing loss probably was the  Texas game in Little Rock. We were winning [14-10]. With just a few seconds left, they had the ball on about our 20-yard line, and they had no more timeouts. It was desperation time for them, and they hit Tony Jones in the endzone for a TD [editor’s note: link may not be suitable viewing for Hog fans who remember the game], and that was the ballgame. That was the most disappointing game that I ever played in.
It’s funny. I actually went to the Atlanta Falcons training camp, and Tony Jones was there, and we actually talked about that play. He was kind of laughing about it and said, yeah, that was probably one of the most disappointing losses in Razorback history.
We have a lot of great memories of watching you play in games at War Memorial — it seems like your name was up on that scoreboard a lot. On a personal level, what’s your favorite memory from your playing days?
I would say that the most touching moment for me was my senior year, running out through the “A” in Little Rock for the last time. They had maybe 10 or 15 little boys out there with my jersey number on. And soon as I ran through the “A,” they let go of balloons.
I would say that’s probably the most memorable or the most touching, just because I knew that it was my last time ever playing in Little Rock, in War Memorial Stadium, and because I knew that these guys that I had become good friends with, that we were going to be going our separate ways. I’ve tried to stay in contact with some, but you lose contact with others.
This might be an obvious question, but which opponent did you guys get the most fired up to play against?