Longview native Phillips receives new Outland Trophy
By Clay Henry, Hawgs Illustrated
Jan. 10, 2013 at 11 p.m.
OMAHA, Neb. - Loyd Phillips tried to turn down the Outland Trophy in 1966 when Arkansas sports information director Bob Cheyne informed him of his selection.
He gladly accepted a real trophy at a banquet here Thursday.
The former Longview Lobo and current Springdale, Ark. resident enjoyed three days of activities, alongside 2012 winner Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M, as part of the Outland Trophy's plan to replace plaques with trophies for former winners from years ago.
Cheyne tells the story of informing Phillips in the locker room that he had won after the Hogs lost to Texas Tech in the 1966 season finale that kept them out of their third straight Cotton Bowl.
Phillips was so upset at losing, he said, "I don't deserve it. Tell them to give it to someone else."
Then, on Monday morning, Phillips went to Cheyne's office to make sure he understood correctly. Please, he said, send it back if it has already arrived.
Cheyne spent 30 minutes explaining that the award wasn't based on one game and it was also like many other individual awards, the team earned it. He needed to accept the Outland for the school and his teammates.
"I did try to turn it down," Philips said Wednesday. "I had really played such a terrible game. I felt like I'd let my teammates down. I just wanted them to give it to someone else."
Players didn't attend the banquet in those days. Phillips was given a plaque at halftime of a basketball game in Barnhill Arena.
"I came down out of the stands, said thanks and went back into the stands after they gave it to me," he said. "It was a plaque. If I've got it, it's somewhere in the attic now."
It was in 1988 that a trophy replaced the plaque. Former winners - one by one - have been invited to return for a real trophy starting eight years ago.
"I'm here with Luke Joeckel and we are both doing everything the same as winners," Phillips said. "We've had luncheons, dinners. ...They have put a lot of effort into this.
"I'm having fun. It's probably right that I'm probably a lot more excited about it this time than I was in 1966.
"I've seen the trophy. It's nice. I'll be glad to have it in my home, but I'd really like it if I could share it with my teammates."
Former teammate Ken Hatfield will join former Arkansas coach Frank Broyles and UA athletic director Jeff Long joined Phillips at the dinner Thursday night.
Phillips has enjoyed working with Hatfield in the Horses for Healing program at Vaughn, Ark. They are first to the barn each morning to clean up in preparation for special needs children who ride the horses in the therapeutic program.
"Kenny is unbelievable with what he does," Phillips said. "I keep telling him he wasted all of those years coaching. He should have been a special-ed teacher.
"I've been retired the last three years and this is what motivates me each day. I love this."
Phillips admitted he loved the trip to Omaha. Part of the excitement was being around Joeckel.
"He's got his head on straight," Phillips said. "It's a thrill to be around a young man like Luke. He has been very complimentary of Tyler Wilson (Arkansas quarterback). They have signed with the same agent and will work out at the same sports complex in Florida as they get ready for the draft.
"I know quarterbacks are important, but left tackles are about as important in the NFL. He's going to make a lot of money."
Phillips had a brief NFL career, but he quickly realized that his body was not going to hold up. He went back to school and put in a lot more effort into academics than during his playing days. He was known more for his vicious play - and brawling style in practice - than his study habits.
At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Phillips was big enough for his era, although he looks tall and light these days. He was a starter as a true sophomore on the 1964 national title team, and an anchor on the best UA teams in history.
However, he points to the team's success for his All-America and Outland honors. He said it is just customary for good teams to get some spots in the postseason awards.
"Basically, the Outland is a team trophy," he said. "I felt that way then and I do now. It's like the Heisman and a lot of the others. Johnny Manziel will tell you his team got him the Heisman.
"Basically, I played on some great teams during the best times for Coach Broyles. We were 29-3 my three years. With team success comes individual accolades. It was a great run for me."
Phillips feels the same way for his 37 years in education, mainly as a vice principal at Rogers (Ark.) High.
Reminded that he might have caused some trouble as a student, Phillips said, "I may not have always done the right thing, but I knew right in my heart."
And, he tried to point students away from his mistakes.
"Hopefully," he said, "I made up for (mistakes) by trying to help some youngsters learn what was right from wrong."
That's what the folks in Omaha did Thursday - make something right with a new, shiny Outland Trophy for Phillips.
(Clay Henry is publisher of Hawgs Illustrated, an NWA Media publication. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)