Coach Lou Holtz made no bones about jobbying - with the help of Oklahoma's Barry Switzer, a former Razorback player and coach - to get his Arkansas team into the Orange Bowl against the Sooners.

"If trying to make sure that your football team is exposed; if trying to make sure people understand certain things about your football team; if believing in your football players; if trying to see them get the opportunity they have honestly deserved or earned . . . Yeah, we're guilty as all get out," Holtz said a month ago after beating Penn State out of the New Year's Night date in Miami.

And now - Holtz has suspended All-Southwest Conference junior running back Ben Cowins, his chief ground weapon with 1,192 yards, 14 touch-down in 1977 after leading the SWC in 1976 with 1,162 yards; junior running back Micheal Forrest (310 yards) and the team's top pass receiver, sophomore Donny Bobo (22 catches, 454 yards, 5 TDs).

"The players will not play in the football game," Holtz said in a prepared statement as he prepared his 10-1, sixth-ranked Rasorbacks for the Jan. 2 showdown with 10-1, secondranked Oklahoma.

Obviously, the victor will come out at least No. 2 in the final polls, with an outside shot at No. 1 if Notre Dame beats Texas, lone conqueror of both Oklahoma (13-6) and Arkansas (13-9), in the Cotton Bowl. So, in what maner did these athletes Holtz so believed in, three-fourths of his starting backfield, let him down to such an extent he would cripple his chances/

"For me to make any other statement concerning this situation would be unfair to the players," a university spokesman quoted Holtz. "There were no legal problems, no law violations," the spokesman said, adding that the customarily loquacious Holtz would have nothing further to say.

The curious went to athletic director Frank Broyles to be told only, "It's Lou's area; you'd better talk to Lou."

All this one day after Arkansas lost All-America offensive guard Leotis Harris when he tore knee ligaments in practice. . .