Remembering an A-State Icon, Larry Lacewell.
Dr. Tim Langford gives his recollection on playing for Lacewell.
JONESBORO – Larry Lacewell, former Director of Athletics and winningest head football coach in Arkansas State history, passed away Wednesday, May 18, at the age of 85.
Inducted into the Arkansas State Athletics Hall of Honor in 1987, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 and the A-State Ring of Honor in 2001, Lacewell was at one time the only coach in the nation to have led college teams to back-to-back championships and been a part of back-to-back NFL Super Bowl wins. Following his retirement from the Dallas Cowboys in 2005, he was honored by the Arkansas General Assembly in February 2005.
Roaming the sidelines for A-State from 1979-89, he led the program to 69 wins, two Southland Conference titles and four straight appearances in the Division I-AA Playoffs, including the 1986 national championship game.
The 1985 and 1986 Southland Coach of the Year, Lacewell coached five First Team All-Americans, 23 Honorable Mention AP All-Americans and 24 All-Southland Conference selections. In his A-State tenure, 13 players went on to play in the NFL and 18 have since been inducted into the A-State Hall of Honor.
Also serving as Arkansas State Athletic Director from 1979-89, Lacewell engineered Arkansas State’s move from Division I-AA to Division I-A, now known as FBS.
As athletic director, Lacewell created avenues for regional and national telecasts, raised funds for a new football administration building and obtained state funds for the construction of First National Bank Arena that opened in 1987.
A-State Hall of Honor and football Ring of Honor member Dr. Tim Langford played quarterback under Lacewell. Dr. Langford played at A-State from 1979-1983. This is my interview I had with Dr. Langford about Coach Lacewell.
Following his tenure at Arkansas State, Lacewell spent two seasons as defensive coordinator at Tennessee, helping the Volunteers win the Southeastern Conference title in 1990. He served as the head of scouting for the Dallas Cowboys for 14 seasons (1991-2004).
Born Feb. 12, 1937, in Fordyce, Lacewell played high school football for his father, Arvel. A three-year, two-way starter, Lacewell earned all-state and all-district honors as a senior. He was one of two five-sport lettermen in the history of the school, lettering in football, basketball, track, swimming and tennis. He graduated in 1959 from Arkansas A&M, now Arkansas-Monticello, with a degree in physical education. He played in four championship games at Arkansas A&M and served as an assistant coach. He was a graduate assistant at Alabama in 1959 for Paul “Bear” Bryant, a high school teammate of Lacewell’s father in Fordyce. He earned his master’s degree in physical education from Alabama in 1960.
Lacewell arrived at what is now A-State to coach the football freshmen and the track team in 1960-61. He went on to serve as a defensive aide at Arkansas-Monticello in 1962. He was assistant head coach at Kilgore Junior College, winning a National Junior College title in 1964 and served as assistant coach at Wichita State (1966-67) and Iowa State (1968).
In 1969, Lacewell was named defensive coordinator at Oklahoma and became assistant head coach in 1973. During Lacewell’s tenure there, Oklahoma won two national titles and six Big Eight championships while riding a 37-game win streak. During his time with the Sooners, he coached eight consensus All-Americans, including an Outland Trophy winner, a Lombardi Award winner and a National Defensive Player of the Year. His defensive teams consistently dominated the Big Eight statistics and were among the Top Ten in the nation in all categories.
In 2018, A-State football established the Larry Lacewell Most Valuable Player Award in honor of Lacewell. The annual award goes to the most valuable player on the team whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence on the football field and in the classroom, the utmost character and integrity on and off the field, demonstrated leadership with a strong work ethic and commitment to his teammates, and the undying will for victory.