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I’ve grown up watching football all my life. I’ve been to many football games, including high school, Harding, my home state team, and NFL and indoor arena games. I like football, and I like watching football. Watching it from the sideline is a whole different experience, and I know that now after spending last Saturday’s home game on the sideline for a magazine assignment.

You might be thinking, “Duh, it’s different,” but you have to understand that I have been completely oblivious to the magnitude of the exploding excitement that erupts from a hundred helmeted, padded giants when something incredible on the field happens. After Harding scored the first touchdown in the beginning of the second quarter, I quickly began clapping. My clapping was like a soft whisper in the wind compared to the helmet slapping, cleat stomping and bison roaring that took place simultaneously.

I had many notable experiences, which included somehow exiting the field at half time in the midst of the visiting team (which I thought had to be some sort of horrible bad luck charm I had then just put on the team) and constantly finding myself accidentally in the middle of the hiker as he practiced hiking the ball to the kicker/punter. But I think the most incredible experience was getting to hear what players and coaches were saying to each other in between drives.

For my magazine story, one of the athletic trainers I’m featuring told me that the coaches’ theme or moto for the team is “honor God.” What I witnessed was constant positivity and encouragement from players to each other. And I know they weren’t doing it because someone was watching. (I couldn’t be seen. Trust me. I’m almost six feet tall, and these guys towered over me). They were doing it because they strive to honor God and lift each other up. Win or lose, the bison football team is a team I’m proud to call my alma mater’s. But just in case you were wondering, they did win this weekend in an exciting fourth-quarter comeback and beat Northwestern Oklahoma State University 42-30.

Hannah Owens, director of news services

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The first home football game is this Saturday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. at First Security Stadium. The football team has been practicing hard, and the HU community is excited for football season to finally kick off. If you can’t make it to the first home game of the year, here’s how to watch from home.

1. Visit at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

2. Enjoy the game.

It’s that easy! So tune in, and cheer along with us as the Bisons take on Southern Nazarene University.

Hannah Owens, director of news services

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03202015 Pro Day Luckett

Eight Bison football players including Donatella Luckett (above) and Romo Westbrook (below) went through the drills March 20 for professional football scouts, including representatives from the Saint Louis Rams, the San Fransico 49ers and the Canadian Football League. The Harding athletes were trying to impress the scouts to enhance their status in the pro football draft or their chances for free agent contracts. Luckett had participated in the 2015 NFL Combine and was looking to improve his 40-yard time.

03202015 Pro Day WestbrookDavid Crouch, director of public relations


From left to right: Ty Finley, Tara FInley, and Coach Ronnie Huckeba.

From left to right: Ty Finley, Tara Finley, and Coach Ronnie Huckeba.

Last year, Harding Academy senior Tara Finley painted a depiction of a bison, titled “Bison Warrior” for her older brother, former Harding football player Ty Finley. Since then, the painting has received notable recognition among the Harding community. The painting was a graduation present for Ty, who played for the University for four years.

“I wanted to show him how much I respected him and how proud I was of him for his hard work and dedication in everything he does. I’ve never met a more driven person than him,” Finley said.

Though the siblings are six years apart in age, Finley is thankful for the example her brother has been to her and spent several months working on a project she hoped would convey that.

“Art is what I do, so it made sense for me to express all this through art,” Finley said.

Finley also presented a donated framed print to Coach Huckeba and is excited about the possibility of sharing her work with others.

“Bison Warrior” first gained attention at Harding Academy’s annual art show, where Finley was approached by David Hall, manager of the University’s bookstore. Increased interest in the piece led to the production of prints for the bookstore.

“The most exciting thing has been that people love my work,” Finley said. “It’s so humbling and amazing to know that people appreciate what you do best.”

Finley is thankful for the learning experience this opportunity has provided as well as the encouragement this project has brought her as an artist. She plans to attend Harding as a freshman in fall 2015 to pursue art or a related field. A fourth generation Harding student in her family, her grandfathers have both served as department heads at the University, and her parents and two older brothers are Harding alumni.

“I am a Harding girl through and through,” Finley said. “I love the Harding community, and I am thankful for the foundation it has given me.”

Prints and stretched canvases of “Bison Warrior” are now available in the bookstore for purchase and online at

Bethany Aspey, web content manager


My husband has a shirt that says “Fall means football in the South” — a simple phrase that captures one of my favorite seasons. Football season.

For me, while I love the chill in the air (my 30+ scarf collection can attest to that) and crunchy, colorful leaves, little can beat the sights and sounds of football — specifically college football.

I love the athleticism and competition of the game, but there’s more to football than just tackling and throwing. There is a subplot of passion, determination and overcoming odds. This is why I love Tom Rinaldi’s pieces for ESPN, combining football with powerful prose.

Harding has its own Tom Rinaldi of sorts. Grant Dillion and Think Media Advertising have created a powerful video highlighting the Bison football team narrated by Chancellor Ganus and his booming baritone. It gives me chills every time I watch it.

See it for yourself here, and be sure to come out and cheer for the Bisons tomorrow evening for their first home game of the season. They’ll surely bring their all to the table.

Jennifer Hannigan, copy editor/writer

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Former Bison head football coach John Prock, 83, died yesterday at his home after a long illness. Head coach from 1964-87, he won a school-record 114 games. He coached 10 NAIA All-Americans, led the Bisons to a win in the 1972 Cowboy Bowl, and won Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference championships in 1972 and 1976. He was NAIA District 17 Coach of the Year in 1969, 1972 and 1976. He was inducted into Harding Athletics Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

More important than his records is his influence on the men who played for him. Prock said, “Football and sports are possibly the greatest existing training grounds for self-discipline, team discipline, life, and, yes, even Christianity.”

We give our deepest sympathy to his loving wife, Charlene; his daughters, Martina Peacock and Mona Daniel; his son, Cam; and their families.

Visitation will be Thursday, July 19 from 6-8 p.m. at West Side Church of Christ in Searcy. The funeral will be Friday, July 20, at 2 p.m., also at West Side.

Tom Buterbaugh, editor/designer

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                                    Coach Ronnie Huckeba
Talking strategy during the game

Things are heating up with the officials.

Hat off during meetings with the officials is never good.

Thinking of something appropriate and encouraging to say after a heartbreaking last second loss is tough.

Seeing your grandson running to greet you after the game can totally change your perspective.


Jeff Montgomery/photographer

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The excitement is mounting — Bison football players report today. According to head coach Ronnie Huckeba, 139 are expected.

The players’ excitement also will mount as they get their first glimpse of the Jim Citty Football and Athletic Training Complex scheduled for completion in late September.

Named for the Bisons’ team doctor since 1975, Citty is a beloved and respected Searcy physician who played on the 1959 team when football returned.

This new addition to the Ganus Athletic Center will double the number of lockers to 130, provide a 7,000 square-foot weight room almost three times larger than the current facility and an athletic training facility five times larger than the current 1,000 square feet.

With new facilities on the way and a new conference as well, Bison fever is definitely on the rise. Be a part by sponsoring a locker in the new facility. Contact the Advancement Office at 1-800-477-4312, ext. 2, to find out more.

Get that black and gold out of the closet; it’s football time at Harding!

Tom Buterbaugh, editor