Bahn: Arkansas In National Sports Spotlight Thanks To Homegrown Heroes

by Chris Bahn  on Tuesday, May. 3, 2011 1:35 pm  

(Photo by ESPN.com front page)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Did you happen to catch the front page of ESPN.com last night?

Front and center you had Atlanta Hawks guard Joe Johnson and Chicago Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer, two Arkansans and former Razorbacks. Brewer was guarding Johnson in Game One of a second-round NBA playoff game and an Associated Press photographer captured the moment.

Johnson, who signed a monster contract last summer, scored 34 points to lead the Hawks to a victory. Brewer and the Bulls lost, creating a bit of quandary for Razorback fans trying to figure out who to support in the playoffs.

What a great “problem” to have.

Seeing the two of them featured on the front of ESPN.com got me thinking about how relevant the state is on the national sports scene right now, particularly as it pertains to the Razorbacks. Arkansas – the state and university — has a modest history of successful pro athletes and big years on the college sports scene.

Arkansas won a national championship with President Bill Clinton looking on in 1994. From a sports perspective, the late 1970s were great for the Razorbacks in all three major sports.

Could this be the high point, though?

Consider all that has happened in just a little over a month. I cobbled together a quick list below. Keep in mind these are in no certain order and might not even include everything. There have probably been some national sports highlights shows and Arkansas-themed moments we’ve missed along the way.

* Peyton Hillis won a fan vote for the cover of Madden ’12 last week. He followed up his video game success with appearances on the NFL Draft and the Late Show with David Letterman and seems poised for more opportunities despite being a relative unknown outside the state.

* Former Arkansas golfer Stacy Lewis won the Kraft Nabisco Open, the first major tournament on the women’s calendar. Lewis has three Top 10 finishes in six tournaments played.

* ESPN produced “Sports Science” pieces and feature packages for both tight end D.J. Williams and quarterback Ryan Mallett. Both were recently drafted along with offensive lineman DeMarcus Love.

* Bobby Petrino and the Razorbacks had their spring game broadcast on ESPN. That comes on the heels of a BCS Bowl appearance in January.

 

 

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