LITTLE ROCK – The Little Rock Touchdown Club kicked off the 2013 season and announced the club’s line-up of renowned speakers and the state’s finest in football.
The Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club also released its slate of speaker for 2013.
- Bret Bielema – Aug. 28
- Jeff Long – Sept. 4
- Former Oklahoma St. coach Pat Jones – Sept. 18
- Lou Holtz – Sept. 23
- Fitz Hill – Oct. 2
- CBS College Football Columnist – Bruce Feldman – Oct. 16
- ESPNU Lead Host – Dari Nowkhah – Oct. 23
- ESPN.com SEC Writer – Chris Low – Oct. 30
During a news conference in the lobby of the Metropolitan Tower, the Little Rock Touchdown Club announced its most ambitious season ever as it celebrates its 10th season as a sports organization. Club President and founder David Bazzel announced four new awards to be presented by the club this year:
Cliff Harris Award – Small College Defensive Player of the Year
Awarded to the top defensive player from a combination of Division II, Division III and NAIA colleges.
Dan Hampton Defensive Lineman of the Year
Arkansas High School Defensive Lineman of the Year Arkansas College Defensive Lineman of the Year
Willie Roaf Offensive Lineman of the Year
Arkansas High School Offensive Lineman of the Year Arkansas College Offensive Lineman of the Year
Sully Award – Best Broadcast Call of the Year
Best High School broadcast play call of the Year Best College broadcast play call of the Year
In addition to the new awards, Bazzel also announced the lineup for the 15 week Touchdown Club season including the kickoff meeting with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema on August 21st at the Marriott Hotel (formerly Peabody) and the club’s end of season awards banquet featuring former Arkansas head coach & ESPN analyst Lou Holtz in January 2014. Other speakers include former Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt, former Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne and six former Razorback greats.
“This is without a doubt is the biggest year in the history of the Little Rock Touchdown Club” said Bazzel. “Being able to honor such great Arkansas football legends as Cliff Harris, Dan Hampton and Willie Roaf is a great honor for our club and then you throw in the best speakers lineup in our ten year history and it adds up to a football fan’s heaven here in central Arkansas.”
President and CEO of Metropolitan National Bank, Lunsford W. Bridges said: “Once again, we are thrilled to team up with the Little Rock Touchdown Club for what is sure to be another exciting year of Arkansas football. It is rewarding that we have a nationally respected club in our area and we are honored to share in celebrating the successes of the Little Rock Touchdown Club each year.”
The club’s first meeting of the 2013 season will be held on Wednesday, August 21st at the Marriott in downtown Little Rock. Lunch begins at 11:00 a.m. and the program is from 11:50 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Members will meet weekly throughout the fall season and once a month during the winter and spring months at the Embassy Suites. National and regional speakers from the world of college football will address members each week.
In her eighth year as executive director of the Little Rock Touchdown Club, Kelly Lasseigne will coordinate the club’s weekly meetings and will serve as the organization’s member contact.
Returning this year for the Little Rock Touchdown Club is the High School Player of the Week award. Each honoree will be announced at the club meeting.
The annual awards banquet will be held in early 2014 and honors players and coaches from every high school division, as well as players from every college in Arkansas. It also recognizes the SEC offensive and defensive players, Coach of the Year, National Player of the Year and names the winner of the Paul Eells Award. The Little Rock Touchdown Club will team with the sports staff of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to honor this year’s players and coaches.
About Cliff Harris
Cliff Harris was born in Fayetteville, spent most of his formative years in Hot Springs and graduated from high school at Des Arc. He played multiple sports growing up but received little interest from college recruiters. A family friend convinced second-year Ouachita Baptist University head coach Buddy Benson that Harris deserved a chance to play college football, and Harris made a name for himself in the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference from 1966-69. Harris’ father had starred in football at Ouachita in the 1940s.
Harris was overlooked in the 1970 NFL draft. But Gil Brandt, who headed the legendary scouting operation for the Dallas Cowboys, was well aware of the player at the small school in Arkadelphia. Harris, in fact, won a starting position with the Cowboys as a rookie in 1970. His rookie season was interrupted by a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, but Harris wasted no time regaining his starting position following his military commitment.
During the next decade, the hard-hitting Harris changed the way the position of free safety was played in the NFL. He rarely left the field, often leading the team not only in interceptions but also in yardage on kickoff and punt returns. In just 10 years as a Cowboy, Harris played in five Super Bowls (the Cowboys won two of them), was named to the Pro Bowl six times and was named a first-team All-NFL player for four consecutive seasons by both The Associated Press and the Pro Football Writers Association.
Harris was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2004. He also was named to the Dallas Cowboys Silver Season All-Time Team and was selected by Sports Illustrated as the free safety on the magazine’s All-Time Dream Team. Harris was awarded the NFL Alumni Legends Award. For years, the Cliff Harris Celebrity Golf Tournament has been one of the leading charity events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
About Willie Roaf
Pine Bluff native Willie Roaf, the son of dentist Clifton Roaf and the late Judge Andree Layton Roaf, is quick to note that his mother would have preferred that he become an attorney or doctor. He drew so little interest from college recruiters coming out of Pine Bluff High School that he considered switching from football to basketball. Finally, he decided to play football at Louisiana Tech University, where his career took off. After a stellar professional career, Roaf was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.
Roaf was 6-4 and weighed 220 pounds when he went to Louisiana Tech, small for a college offensive lineman. By his sophomore season, Roaf was 6-5 and weighed 300 pounds. Louisiana Tech played Alabama, Baylor, South Carolina, Ole Miss, West Virginia and Southern Mississippi during his senior season, allowing professional scouts plenty of opportunities to watch Roaf play. He was picked in the first round of the 1993 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints. Roaf was the eighth selection overall and the first offensive lineman to be drafted.
Roaf spent the first nine years of a 13-year NFL career with the Saints. He started 131 games for New Orleans and helped the franchise to its first playoff win, a 2000 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams. A torn ligament in his right knee forced Roaf to miss the second half of the 2001 season. He was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he made the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons.
Roaf was voted to the Pro Bowl 11 times in 13 seasons, tied with Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz for the most Pro Bowl appearances by an offensive tackle. He earned a spot on the NFL All-Decade teams for both the 1990s and the 2000s. Roaf also was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
About Dan Hampton
An injury caused by an accident kept Dan Hampton out of organized sports in junior high, but he made up for lost time during his junior and senior years at Jacksonville High School. Playing for Bill Reed’s Red Devils, Hampton caught the eye of the University of Arkansas coaching staff and went on to star on defense for the Razorbacks at the end of the Frank Broyles era and the start of the Lou Holtz era. He was a four-year letterman at Arkansas, a three-year starter and a two-time All-Southwest Conference selection. Hampton was named to the Razorback All-Decade team of the 1970s.
Hampton made his mark as a freshman with 21 tackles in 1975. He had 48 tackles and recovered two fumbles as a sophomore. His tackle total rose to 70 as a junior. Hampton earned All-American honors his senior season with 98 tackles. He was the Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 1978 and was the Chicago Bears’ No. 1 pick (the fourth pick overall) in the 1979 NFL draft.
Hampton made an immediate impact as a rookie when he had 70 tackles, 48 of which were solo efforts, and recovered two fumbles. Hampton would be a first- or second-team All-Pro choice six times as either a defensive end or tackle. Nicknamed “Danimal” for his ferocious style of play, Hampton played 12 seasons for the Bears despite 10 knee surgeries and numerous other injuries.
Hampton retired in 1990, having become just the second Bear to play in three different decades. He was inducted into the University of Arkansas’ Sports Hall of Honor in 1991, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
About Little Rock Touchdown Club
The Little Rock Touchdown Club, which began in August 2004, has become one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing football clubs. Having started with 17 founding members, the organization has quickly grown to more than 500 members. The club meets every Monday from 11:50 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., with lunch beginning at 11:00 a.m. during the fall at Embassy Suites in west Little Rock. Annually, the club hosts an awards banquet recognizing a Most Valuable Player from every Arkansas college football team. Awards are also presented to a Coach and Player of the Year from every high school classification. A national Collegiate Player of the Year, SEC Defensive and Offensive Players of the Year and SEC Coach of the Year are also named.
Other big Touchdown Club news for the 2013 season:
The Little Rock Touchdown Club will become the host organization for the Arkansas Chapter of the National Foundation Foundation. Club members can join the NFF for a discounted Touchdown Club rate of only $25, which will allow each member to vote on the annual College Football Hall of Fame. The club will also tie in the NFF’s national scholar-athlete program with its own annual awards banquet. For more information go to LRTouchdown.com.
The Touchdown Club has also teamed with the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in offering a special rate for membership in all three organizations: The TD Club, the NFF and the ASHOF for $125. For more information go to LRTouchdown.com
For the first time, all club memberships can be purchased online at LRTouchdown.com.
103.7 The Buzz will be broadcasting from each Touchdown Club meeting. The Zone, hosted by Justin Acri, will be on location at each Touchdown Club meeting from 10:00- 1:00.
A new Touchdown Club Board of Directors was created. Members include: Clint Albright, David Bazzel, Bob Bomar, Renata Jenkins Byler, John Coulter, Nate Coulter, Ronald Davis, Wally Hall, Tommy Harkins, Judy Henry, Bill Jackson, Bruce James, Rob Janes, Anne Jansen, BJ Maack, Andrew Meadors, Scott Miller, Ark Monroe Nancy Monroe, Rex Nelson, Kinney O’Conner, David Parker, John Pierron, Jim Rasco, Wes Sutton, and Gary Underwood.