A Tribute to Loyd Phillips

Nate Allen

FAYETTEVILLE – Loyd Phillips, the University of Arkansas’ lone winner of the Outland Trophy as college’s best lineman, passed away Sunday at 75 of a stroke compounding longtime circulatory complications.
Phillips, 6-3, 240 in his playing days, starred for Coach Frank Broyles Razorbacks from 1964-66 with the ’64 team going 11-0 winning both the national championship and the Southwest Conference championship, the ’65 team 10-1 winning the SWC, and the 8-2 SWC runner-ups in in ’66.
Phillips’ honors, topped by 1992 induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, include inductions into both the Arkansas and Texas Sports Hall of Fame, the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor, the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame, the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame, the UA’s All-Century team (1900-99).
Two-time 1965 and ’66 All-American Phillips was voted the Outland Trophy in 1966.
Age finally catching up to beauty those honors in an era when freshmen weren’t varsity eligible. For in the one season they played together, Ken Hatfield, then a 1964 Razorbacks senior defensive halfback/punt returner to become Arkansas’ 1984-89 head coach, said Phillips already seemed college football’s most unique defensive lineman.
“What I remember most about him ability wise we only had two sophomores who played on that ’64 defense that started,” Hatfield said. “Harry Jones and him, great, gifted players with great ability and they made big plays.”
Phillips made plays in fashion that earlier might have more vexed than pleased legendary Arkansas defensive coordinator Jim Mackenzie, only three years later to die of a heart attack at 37 before what would have been his second season head coaching the Oklahoma Sooners.
“Coach Mackenzie, who had been a rough, tough defensive coordinator that year had mellowed,” Hatfield said. “And things that would have gotten under his skin that Loyd did, he didn’t even worry about. He’d just say, ‘Loyd get back in there and do what you are supposed to’ and wouldn’t get upset with him.”
Even when Phillips still didn’t do them like he was supposed to do them.
Bill Gray, a 1964 senior safety/quarterback, said it was a Mackenzie anathema trying to run around blocks. It detoured the defender too tardy to make a play, Mackenzie and most all defensive gurus surmised.
Unless it was Loyd, Gray said often which Hatfield said again Sunday.
“Loyd was so quick he could run around and get back there and still make the tackle before most people could do anything,” Hatfield said. “He was unique. I guarantee you people did not look forward to playing against him once they saw him on film. Because it wasn’t like they had anyone like him on the field to practice against to prepare for the way Loyd played.”
During his Razorbacks career Phillips’ reputation was as intimidating off the field as on it.
Legend has it the sight of Loyd walking down Dickson Street caused a natural instinct to cross the street.
Whatever dark side of Phillips roughhouse past brightened way to the good beyond football. He was a longtime teacher and assistant principal both in Springdale and Rogers.
“All his football and all his exploits and all his growing up, just seemed to be a preparation for what the Lord was going to use him for later on, dealing with young people,” Hatfield said. “He was such an influence on so many kids lives because they couldn’t pull anything over on him that he hadn’t tried himself. He knew what was going on.”
Tom Reed and Roy Fears joined the Razorbacks as freshmen in 1968, two years Phillips’ senior Outland Trophy season.
But by 1971, his NFL career with the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints injury ended, Phillips went back to the UA completing his degree.
They became Phillips’ friends the rest of Loyd’s life,
“We started quail hunting together,” Reed said. “He did have reputation of being a bad ass. But really he is a good guy with a soft spot in his heart and he would do anything for you.”
Reed paid his last visit Saturday night. By then Loyd had lost consciousness.
Fears not only was Phillips’ longtime friend and hunting and fishing partner but colleague. They taught together in Springdale.
“We graduated in ’73 together,” Fears said. “And we both started teaching at Central Junior High. He became a principal and I was a coach there. We got to be good friends and started hunting together.”
Fears had seen Phillips play ball. And he saw him counsel and administrate.
“As good a football player and everything that he was,” Fears said, “he was a better teacher and principal than he ever could have been in football. He understood the kids, where they were coming from and how to talk to them and how to handle them and was great handling their parents.”
Guess there was no backtalk as Phillips counseled.
“Not very often,” Fears said unable to stop laughing. “There were a couple of times parents kind of wanted to say stuff but it didn’t happen. He could defuse the situation pretty good.”
Reed said his daughter and Phillips’ daughter played basketball together which kept him in touch with kids whose lives Loyd touched.
“You hear kids, now grown obviously, when Loyd was there and every one of them had the utmost respect for Loyd,” Reed said. “He made the difference in a lot of lives. I know he turned kids around.”
Aside from influencing so many other kids, Loyd leaves a legacy influencing his own kids. Loyd and his ever gracious wife Betsy, parented son Mackenzie, named after Jim Mackenzie, and daughter JoAnn.
Loyd impacted the Razorbacks beyond himself.
Terry Don Phillips, Loyd’s brother, lettered for Broyles’ Razorbacks as a defensive lineman in 1966, ’68 and ’69. With an administrative career that at Arkansas included heading the Razorback Foundation and top administrator under Broyles as senior associate athletic director before becoming the athletic director at Oklahoma State and finally Clemson, Terry Don in 2014 joined Loyd (1990) as inducted into the UA Sports Hall of Honor.
Mackenzie Phillips, overcoming a life-threatening asthmatic condition while playing at Springdale High School, lettered as a defensive lineman for Hatfield’s 1988 Razorbacks and in 1990 and ’91 under Jack Crowe.

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