Coach Lou Holtz has been living in Hog Heaven since he abandoned the NFL after a forgettable 3-11 season with the New York Jets.
Besides making Arkansas, which will play Navy in Little Rock tonight, an annual bowl visitor, Holtz has delivered his patented one-liners on the Johnny Carson Show, conducted clinics in such football deserts as Saudi Arabia, dined at the White House and earned a reputation as a practical joker.
After Doug Looney of Sports Illustrated spent a week with Holtz a few years back, Holtz called Looney's home and told his wife, "I was wondering where your husband is. He called me a week or so ago and said he was coming to see me, and he hasn't showed up yet."
If Looney never got his revenge, a computer at the Football Hall of Fame got even for him. Visitors are invited to call plays in game situations and the computer grades their replies as "coach, player, fan, etc." All of Holtz's five solutions were adjudged incorrect and he was labeled "cheerleader."
"I immediately reported the malfunctioned computer, which was the only reason I could think of, although I also got the feeling I'd never make the Hall of Fame," Holtz said.
Actually, cheerleader is not a misnomer. Holtz is not one to howl "Sooie" as he paces off miles on the sidelines, but he is not a restrained and silent spectator, either. Arkansas managers have to be alert to retrieve Holtz's hat, so frequently does the 45-year-old perpetual motion machine send it sailing.
He sometimes throws other things, too. During a game against Texas, when he felt the Longhorns were mistreating his receivers, Holtz fired his watch 40 yards across the field at the official who had ignored everything else.
When the media reported that the watch had been broken, Holtz was presented with several new ones by concerned fans. That was not equal to the response after he wore a green sweater to one of his first games at Arkansas. Explaining that he did not own a red sweater, he received about 150 by game time the following Saturday.
Holtz' home phone number is listed in the phone book, which can be a liability on the rare occasions when the Razorbacks lose.
"I have it listed in case athletes or parents of athletes need to get hold of me in an emergency late at night," Holtz said. "Occasionally, somebody will call with complaints, but they're just venting their frustrations. I can accept that. I like to win, too."
Always on the go, Holtz says he has a "season speeding ticket" with the state police, the result of frequent high-speed trips from Fayetteville, near the Oklahoma border, to Little Rock. "One guy stopped me three times in the same place," Holtz said. "I told him, 'We've got to stop meeting like this.' "
In 1966, when he was an assistant coach at South Carolina, Holtz could see no direction in his life, so he wrote a list of 107 things he wanted to do before he died.
"Some were insane, some were good," Holtz said. "Some I've accomplished, like seeing the pyramids or having dinner at the White House. Some, like a hole in one, I'm still waiting for -- the closest I've come is a bogey. The scoreboard right now reads 72 down, 35 to go."
Holtz has been known to shake his players and terms his practices "no worse than your ordinary death march." He has broken his hand trying to shove it through a blackboard.
Holtz has been called the best coach in the country, a title he is willing to accept, with a one-line reservation.
"At a banquet, someone introduced me as the best coach in the country," he said. "It's true. There are 1,000 better coaches in the cities but I'm the best in the country."