FORT WORTH, Texas — The last time Arkansas played a game inside Texas Christian University’s Amon G. Carter Stadium, the Razorbacks rallied from an early three-touchdown deficit and won, 22-21.
That was Oct. 5, 1991.
The next season, Arkansas officially became a member of the SEC. Just a few years after that, the Southwest Conference — which for most of its existence consisted of Arkansas and eight Texas universities — was disbanded.
On Saturday evening, Arkansas and TCU meet again for the first time since that second-half Razorback rally, and in the same stadium.
E.D. Jackson plans to be in the house for the first Arkansas-TCU game since his fourth-quarter, game-winning touchdown run nearly 25 years ago. He’ll be there for nostalgic reasons, but not necessarily to reminisce about his game winner.
Jackson — who rushed for 2,109 yards and 9 touchdowns for the Hogs between 1989 and 1992 — just really, truly misses the Southwest Conference.
During a telephone interview with SEC Country this week, Jackson was asked if he ever thinks about his game-winning touchdown run that day in Fort Worth, especially with the teams playing again Saturday.
“I’d be lying to you if I told you I did,” Jackson said with a laugh. “For me, the thing is, that last year in the SWC, I think knowing that you were gonna be playing these teams for the last time was the most important thing for me.
“I grew up watching the SWC. I grew up rooting for the SWC. I think that is the thing that stands out the most for me in all those games. Of course, you wanted to put your best foot forward with those games that year, because you knew it was gonna be no more.”
Indeed, in 1990, Arkansas announced it would leave the Southwest Conference and join the SEC beginning with the 1992 season.
Jackson was a junior in 1991, so the Kilgore, Texas, native knew that for his senior season, there would be no road games back in his home state.
“I didn’t want to stay in Texas, but I wanted my parents to have an opportunity to come see me play as much as possible,” Jackson said of his decision to sign with the Hogs out of high school. “So, with Arkansas being in the SWC, I had the best of both worlds.”
Jackson’s senior season, though, included road games at South Carolina, Tennessee, Auburn and Mississippi State.
Today, Jackson lives back in Kilgore and has worked as a manager at Sparkletts Water the last 17 years. He said he doesn’t make it to many Arkansas games — his two daughters are basketball players and his son just began his first season of tackle football — but tries to reunite with former teammates most springs in Fayetteville.
When he visits his old stomping grounds, Jackson marvels at the facilities — which were, it should be noted, affordable largely because of SEC money.
“I wish we could have gotten to be part of some of those changes,” he said with a chuckle, “but it’s real nice to see. Those guys have got it made now.”
But Jackson still misses the old Southwest Conference.
Of course, the Hogs now play Texas A&M — a former SWC member who joined the Big 12 before bolting for the SEC in 2012 — every year in Arlington, Texas, and just wrapped up a home-and-home series with Texas Tech in 2014 and 2015.
The Razorbacks also clashed with Texas in their 2014 bowl game, and Saturday’s contest in Fort Worth is the first game in a home-and-home with the Horned Frogs. TCU makes the return trip to Fayetteville next season.
Following the Southwest Conference’s 1996 dissolution, TCU was relegated to mid-major status for years in the WAC (1996-2000), Conference USA (2001-2004) and the Mountain West Conference (2005-2011) before joining the Big 12 in 2012.
The Horned Frogs have become one of the Big 12’s most successful teams — winning 23 games over the last two seasons — and are ranked No. 15 in the latest AP Top 25 poll.
“Those were just good, fun rivalries,” Jackson said. “I played in high school against guys that went to the other SWC schools, and you would come home for the holidays and see a lot of those guys. Whoever had beaten one another had the upper hand.
“It’s just sad knowing the SWC is gone.”