Louis Campbell has coached at just about every level of football, been around some of the best in the history of the game and from what he’s been able to see, he likes the new football staff.
“The thing I’ve been impressed with this group is they’re not into cliches and they may not be the best speakers on Saturday or Sunday night, but I really think these guys are football coaches,” Campbell told Tye Richardson, Tommy Craft and Clay Henry (The Morning Rush) on ESPN Arkansas Friday morning.
Even though they haven’t gotten on the field with a ball for a real practice, the direction they’re heading in is positive.
“They know what it is to go out and work and get their hands dirty and coach a player hard,” Campbell said. “I’m not talking about being physical. I’m just talking about hold them accountable, making them do what’s right and that respect goes both ways. I think they’ll earn the respect of their team and when they do Arkansas will turn the corner and start getting better.”
He’s been in the spot Sam Pittman and his staff are in … more than once.
Campbell, who intercepted three Tennessee passes in the Liberty Bowl in 1971 against Tennessee, was on Jack Crowe’s staff, then with Joe Kines, Danny Ford and Houston Nutt. He was also on Nutt’s first staff at Ole Miss, then at Mississippi State under Sylvester Croom.
But he started his coaching career at Alabama under maybe the best ever, Paul “Bear” Bryant.
“If I had to send my son to play or coach under somebody it would be him,” Campbell said. “He was what coaching is all about. If you played or coached for him It was two things he had a team do — be physical and you win by being tougher than the other guy.
“Not smarter, not call better plays, just go out there and kick his butt on that particular play. That’s what he was.”
Off the field, though, Bryant was a lot different.
“He’d give you the shirt off his back,” Campbell said. “When we got to Alabama, we’d been recruiting and my wife picked us up. She was a teacher and coach Bryant looked in the back seat where she was and said, ‘honey, you working now?'”
Campbell’s wife said she hadn’t gotten anything yet. Bryant asked a couple of questions and then didn’t bring it up again.
She had a teaching job the next day.
“Unbelievable person,” Campbell said of Bryant.
It was Bryant that also gave Campbell an important lesson about making excuses when he’d moved on from Alabama and was on Ron Meyer’s first staff at SMU.
After picking Bryant up at the airport in Dallas, Campbell made the mistake of making excuses for the previous season and Bryant just listened.
“Mustang Mania hadn’t kicked in yet,” Campbell said. “We were awful.”
He detailed a list of excuses for the “awful” season. Bryant finally had one line about excuses.
“Poor workers find fault with their tools,” he told Campbell after a long pause.
“For the next hour not another word was said,” Campbell said Friday. “I learned that one the hard way.”