SEC: Steve Atwater
September, 25, 2009
By ESPN.com staff | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Leaving the state of Oklahoma to play football wasn’t easy for Quinn Grovey.
He jokes that former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer could recruit a shark to live on dry land.
And to this day, the folks in Grovey’s hometown of Duncan, Okla., still let him hear about it when he goes home.
“But it’s the best decision I ever made,” said Grovey, one of the most exciting quarterbacks in Arkansas history. “There’s nothing like Hog football. If I had to do it all over again, I’d choose Arkansas 10 out of 10 times.”
|Joe Patronite /Allsport|
|Quinn Grovey says he has no regrets about leaving his home state to play for Arkansas.|
As fate would have it, Arkansas played Oklahoma in the 1987 Orange Bowl following Grovey’s first season in Fayetteville. He redshirted that year and didn’t play, but the 42-8 loss to the Sooners reverberated in more ways than one.
“Every time they scored a touchdown, they’d drive by our house and throw oranges,” remembered Grovey, who finds the prank funnier now than he did nearly 23 years ago. “Our front yard was covered in oranges.”
By the time Grovey left Arkansas in 1990, he was covered in adulation. He remains one of the most popular Hogs of the Southwest Conference era and really never left.
Now 41, he still lives in Fayetteville with his wife, Stacy, and their 15-year-old daughter, Kelsey. Grovey is a regional human resources manager at Home Depot and travels extensively in his job.
On the weekends, he can be heard on the Arkansas radio network. He’s a co-host of the pregame and postgame shows and serves as the sideline reporter during games.
“These fans eat, drink and sleep Hog football, and to be able to bring it to them is pretty special,” said Grovey, who played briefly in the CFL after leaving Arkansas.
The Hog Nation can still see No. 4 scooting around right end on an option keeper and leading Arkansas to back-to-back Southwest Conference championships in 1988 and 1989. A three-year starter, he finished his career with 4,496 passing yards and 1,746 rushing yards.
Grovey passed for 29 touchdowns and ran for 21 touchdowns. He and Matt Jones are the only players in Arkansas history in the 20-20 club.
Winning the back-to-back SWC titles remains Grovey’s fondest memory, particularly since Arkansas hadn’t won one in nine years.
“Going to the Cotton Bowl those two years was special, even though we didn’t win either one,” said Grovey, who played for Ken Hatfield at Arkansas. “It was good just to be a part of that whole experience and to see what it meant to the Hog fans to be there in Dallas.”
Grovey’s most memorable game is easy: Arkansas’ 45-39 win over Houston in 1989. He outdueled Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware that day, only a week after Houston and its run-and-shoot offense had mauled SMU 95-21.
“It was a must-win game for us to keep our Cotton Bowl hopes alive,” recalled Grovey, who rushed for three touchdowns, threw two touchdowns passes and finished with 335 yards of total offense. “We had just come off a tough loss to Texas and had to have that game to stay in contention. We probably played our best game of the season.”
Grovey said he was blessed to be surrounded by great players at Arkansas, including the likes of Barry Foster, Steve Atwater and Wayne Martin.
He also played against some great players.
“Andre Ware and I used to go at it. We had a pretty good rivalry going,” Grovey said. “Defensively, I could name the entire 1987 Miami Hurricane defense, but that would probably take too long. They had a great player at every position.”
The Hurricanes routed Arkansas 51-7 that season in Little Rock on their way to the national championship. That next year, Arkansas was leading Miami in the fourth quarter at the Orange Bowl, but the Hurricanes kicked a field goal in the final minutes to win 18-16 and send the Hogs to their first loss of the season after a 10-0 start.
For Grovey, that one still stings.
“We had them beat, and they came back and got us there at the end,” he said.
Grovey said the biggest change he’s seen in college football, specifically the SEC, is the NFL's influence with all the intricate schemes the teams are running now on offense and defense.
“With all the former NFL coaches in this league, what they’re doing on this level schematically is completely different,” Groves said. “When I played, you didn’t see fire blitzes and zone blitzes. Now, they’ve got people coming out of nowhere after the quarterback.
“It’s a whole new ballgame with how they’re trying to confuse the quarterback on the pre-snap read. They’re also asking the quarterbacks to do more. They’re asking the receivers to do more. Nowadays, you’ve got people reading coverages on the run. There are so many things people are trying to do to gain an advantage. It's confusing for everybody."
12:00 PM ET UAB Arkansas 3:30 PM ET 1 Mississippi State Kentucky 4:00 PM ET Vanderbilt Missouri 7:15 PM ET 3 Ole Miss 24 LSU 7:30 PM ET South Carolina 5 Auburn 7:30 PM ET 4 Alabama Tennessee