Chad Morris Officially Named Arkansas Head Coach

Chad Morris has officially been named Arkansas’ head football coach. He has reportedly agreed to a 6-year, $3.5M/year contract with incentives that can increase up to $4M/year. Morris is most known for building the Clemson offense while recruiting players like Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and Deshaun Watson. In his 3 years at SMU, he has turned around a program that had a 1-11 record the year before he was hired.

This year, he led the Mustangs to a 7-5 record and a bowl game while putting up a 3,000 yard passer, 2 1,000 yard receivers, and a 1,000 yard rusher. QB Ben Hicks broke the SMU single season record for TDs (32) and career record for TDs (51). He is also currently 3rd in SMU history for passing yards in a season (3,442) and 3rd for career passing yards (6,372). On the receiving side, Trey Quinn is 2nd in SMU history for receptions in a season (106) and 4th in receiving yards in a season (1191). Meanwhile, Courtland Sutton is 3rd in SMU history for career receiving yards (3,152), 3rd in receiving yards in a season (1,246) and 1st in receiving yards in a single game (252).

According to multiple reports, Morris intends to target Clemson Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables for the same position at Arkansas.

Official Press Release

Auburn won’t let Malzahn come to Arkansas without a fight

It’s been pretty obvious Gus Malzahn has been the top choice to replace Bret Bielema. After beating Alabama last week, there’s no doubt that money and timelines have changed. Rumors from other Razorback fan sites are saying it’s a done deal, but a report  from Football Scoop say that Malzahn has “presented a package to Auburn president Steven Leath to keep him in blue and orange.” Is Arkansas getting played for Gus to get an extension and raise?

Do you want Malzahn to come back to Arkansas? Who is your top choice in the coaching search?

UA Appears Set to Hire Play-by-Play Talent for SEC Network Broadcasts

A University of Arkansas Athletic Department/Media job listing as referenced through Indeed.com seeks:

“lead play-by-play talent for all selected SEC Network broadcasts originating from the Broadcast Services department on the University of Arkansas campus, as well as overseeing the strategic planning of video content for ArkansasRazorbacks.com, official media platforms and other broadcast outlets affiliated with the department”

to be under the supervision of “Assistant Athletic Director for Broadcast Services.”    Michelle Glover is current Assistant Athletic Director for Broadcast Services at the University of Arkansas.

The open dates for the listing are from June 6, 2017 through June 20, 2017.  The listing was originally accessed on June 11, 2017 and appeared to be available on this particular site beginning on June 10, 2017.

The listing was forwarded  from an individual who is in media, albeit not in the Arkansas media, and who uses this website regularly to stay abreast of media positions.  Just below the University of Arkansas entry are two entries for Little Rock University.

This is clearly NOT a position replacing RADIO play-by-play announcers Chuck Barrett (football and basketball) or Phil Elson (baseball & women’s basketball.)  This is video-oriented.

At the moment it is unclear if this position is in addition to all others or whether it will subsume another position.

At the moment it is unclear if this person will be THE PERSON for ALL SEC Network  broadcasts coming from Fayetteville.  The listing has the qualifier “selected”  SEC Network broadcasts.  Conceivably not all would be selected and that a more national or regional crew may call the game.

This post may be edited as additional information/verification is available.  Attempts to reach out to UA yesterday  weren’t successful.  (It was a Sunday, and people do take time off from jobs on the weekend and over the summer. No stones cast from this direction.)  Another attempt was made today but only a short time before posting.  — Sharp

 

Screenshot_2017-06-11-08-22-44

Screenshot_2017-06-11-08-22-44 500px

Screenshot_2017-06-11-08-22-44

Screenshot_2017-06-11-08-22-53 500px

Screenshot_2017-06-11-08-20-32 500px

 

 

 

Matchup Stats — Arkansas v. Alabama and vice versa

Certainly stats aren’t the entire story of any game because they fail to include all sorts of human factors, but tossing them out as useless is similar to saying that we shouldn’t keep score or Timmy, Timmy, Timmy Turner shouldn’t know how much of his mullah’s left while his soul’s in the furnace.  “Fire” and “want” aren’t quantifiable.

For the most part, these are here for anyone to evaluate the game on their own without guessing at things which are knowable.  The official football stats from NCAA.com for teams are hard to find on the page.  To find them you have to go to the drop down menu at the bottom of the page under “Custom Reporting,” select FBS, run a custom report, then go to one of the categories, and click on the team you want.  The categories are jumbled in some fashion that only makes sense to someone else.  After re-ordering for each team, the stats can be placed side by side in a meaningful way.

Looking at Arkansas’ and Alabama’s seasons, arguably Alabama’s schedule has been slightly more difficult than Arkansas’.

DateArkansasW/LArkansasOpp.AlabamaW/LAlabamaOpp
4-1180116.5-022065
09/03/2016Louisiana TechW2120.Southern California W526
09/10/2016@ TCUW (2OT)4138.Western Ky.W3810
09/17/2016Texas St.W423.@ Ole MissW4843
09/24/2016Texas A&M L2445.Kent St.W480
10/01/2016AlcornW5210.KentuckyW346

The difference really comes down to Kentucky which isn’t much. Who’s better? Texas A&M or Ole Miss?  TCU or Southern Cal.?  Louisiana Tech or Western Kentucky? Kent State or Alcorn State?  At this point in the season, if these teams played head-to-head, the point spreads would be fairly small. Maybe TCU would be favored over USC.  Maybe an A&M team would be a favorite over Ole Miss. Looking at numbers conservatively, the matchups are even. The remaining matchup Kentucky and Texas State, Kentucky would be a clear favorite simply because the Wildcats have more talent.   Scoring comparisons between Saban and Bielema coached teams are pretty fair primarily because both look to control the ball and run down the clock at the end of the game with the lead or let off the throttle when the game is in hand.  In contrast a Bobby Petrino team plays full throttle regardless of a lead.

So how does Arkansas stack up against Alabama? Sort the tables as you like.  It’s frequently helpful to sort by one national ranking or the other.  Alabama’s side is at the end of this post.

Arkansas’ Offense v. Alabama’s Defense

ARKANSAS OFFENSEARKANSAS NAT RNKARKANSAS VALUEvs.ALABAMA VALUEALABAMA NAT RANKALABAMA DEFENSE
Scoring Offense (128 ranked)4336vs.139Scoring Defense (128 ranked)
First Downs Offense (128 ranked)28119vs.639First Downs Defense (128 ranked)
Total Offense (128 ranked)52443.4vs.256.48Total Defense (128 ranked)
Team Passing Efficiency (128 ranked)14166.49vs.110.5625Team Passing Efficiency Defense (128 ranked)
Rushing Offense (128 ranked)48197vs.68.43Rushing Defense (128 ranked)
Passing Offense (128 ranked)55246.4vs.18827Passing Yards Allowed (128 ranked)
Red Zone Offense (128 ranked)770.815vs.0.7529Red Zone Defense (123 ranked)
Sacks Allowed (127 ranked)311.4vs.3.417Team Sacks (128 ranked)
Tackles for Loss Allowed (128 ranked)495.4vs.6.645Team Tackles for Loss (128 ranked)
3rd Down Conversion Pct (128 ranked)550.417vs.0.278143rd Down Conversion Pct Defense (128 ranked)
4th Down Conversion Pct (126 ranked)610.556vs.0.333164th Down Conversion Pct Defense (124 ranked)
Completion Percentage (128 ranked)110.671vs.nanaCompletion % Defense No Stat
Passing Yards per Completion (128 ranked)4713.11vs.nanaPassing Yards per Completion No Stat
Defensive TDs Allowed No Statnanavs.51Defensive TDs (9 ranked)

With the sole exception of Arkansas’ Team Passing Efficiency v. Alabama’ Team Passing Efficiency Defense, category by category Alabama’s defense bests Arkansas’ offense in stats allowed v. stats earned in both value and rank.  The greatest differences are in Total Offense/Defense and Rushing Offense/Defense.  While Arkansas’ offense is in the middle of the pack, Bama’s defense is in the top 10 in both categories.  If the numbers tell as story about how Alabama will play, they suggest that Alabama’s style will be to keep the Hogs in front of them anticipating that they can stop Arkansas’ run offense and cause enough disruption of the quarterback with three defensive linemen.  Even if they show more on the defensive line, someone will be dropping back in coverage.

Arkansas’ Defense v. Alabama’s Offense

ARKANSAS DEFENSEARKANSAS NAT. RANKARKANSAS VALUEvs.ALABAMA VALUEALABAMA NAT. RANKALABAMA OFFENSE
Scoring Defense (128 ranked)4723.2vs.4413Scoring Offense (128 ranked)
First Downs Defense (128 ranked)4386vs.11140First Downs Offense (128 ranked)
Total Defense (128 ranked)52374.4vs.484.430Total Offense (128 ranked)
Team Passing Efficiency Defense (128 ranked)35115.08vs.145.3245Team Passing Efficiency (128 ranked)
Rushing Defense (128 ranked)73163.4vs.231.626Rushing Offense (128 ranked)
Passing Yards Allowed (128 ranked)46211vs.252.852Passing Offense (128 ranked)
Red Zone Defense (123 ranked)240.722vs.0.95710Red Zone Offense (128 ranked)
Team Sacks (128 ranked)382.6vs.257Sacks Allowed (127 ranked)
Team Tackles for Loss (128 ranked)616vs.5.449Tackles for Loss Allowed (128 ranked)
3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense (128 ranked)1150.478vs.0.487233rd Down Conversion Pct (128 ranked)
4th Down Conversion Pct Defense (124 ranked)1241vs.0.714194th Down Conversion Pct (126 ranked)
Completion % Defense No Statnanavs.0.63230Completion Percentage (128 ranked)
Passing Yards per Completion No Statnanavs.12.2775Passing Yards per Completion (128 ranked)
Defensive TDs (9 ranked)33vs.nanaDefensive TDs Allowed No Stat

The Razorbacks’ Defense fairs slightly better against Alabama’s Offense but hardly in areas where it matters most, Scoring, Rushing and 3rd Down Conversions.

Arkansas’ Special Teams v. Alabama’s Special Teams

ARKANSAS KICKING/ RECEIVINGARKANSAS NAT. RANKARKANSAS VALUEvs.ALABAMA VALUEALABAMA NAT. RANKALABAMA RECEIVING / KICKING
Kickoff Return Defense (128 ranked)10823.86vs.22.1156Kickoff Returns (128 ranked)
Punt Returns Against No Statnanavs.19.676Punt Returns (128 ranked)
Punt Return Defense (128 ranked)899.83vs.41.4418Net Punting (128 ranked)
Blocked Kicks Allowed (128 ranked)10vs.119Blocked Kicks (19 ranked)
Blocked Punts Allowed (126 ranked)10vs.00Blocked Punts (5 ranked)
Kickoff Returns (128 ranked)11617.18vs.20.3554Kickoff Return Defense (128 ranked)
Punt Returns (128 ranked)489.71vs.nanaPunt Returns Against No Stat
Net Punting (128 ranked)1042.76vs.7.7563Punt Return Defense (128 ranked)
Blocked Kicks (19 ranked)72vs.01Blocked Kicks Allowed (128 ranked)
Blocked Punts (5 ranked)00vs.01Blocked Punts Allowed (126 ranked)
Defensive TDs (9 ranked)33vs.nanaDefensive TDs Allowed No Stat

On Special Teams, Arkansas holds abysmal rankings in all of D-I football in kickoff returns, kickoff return defense and punt return defense.  Special teams are dangerously fickle, and the Hogs can ill-afford to give up any points or long returns on Special Teams.  If the trends hold, it could be a problem Saturday.

Arkansas’ Turnovers & Takeaways v. Alabama’s Takeaways & Turnovers

ARKANSAS TURNOVERS LOST / WONARKANSAS NAT. RANKARKANSAS VALUEvs.ALABAMA NAT. RANKALABAMA NAT. RANKALABAMA TURNOVERS WON / LOST
Turnover Margin (128 ranked)310.6vs.0.631Turnover Margin (128 ranked)
Turnovers Lost (128 ranked)587vs.847Turnovers Gained (127 ranked)
Fumbles Lost (127 ranked)1045vs.515Fumbles Recovered (108 ranked)
Passes Had Intercepted (128 ranked)122vs.379Passes Intercepted (113 ranked)
Turnovers Gained (127 ranked)1910vs.523Turnovers Lost (128 ranked)
Fumbles Recovered (108 ranked)155vs.483Fumbles Lost (127 ranked)
Passes Intercepted (113 ranked)315vs.13Passes Had Intercepted (128 ranked)

Turnovers can be game changers.  The Razorbacks appear to hold some advantages here.

If there’s any weak link it’s in the inconsistency of a true freshman quarterback in Alabama’s Jalen Hurts.  He’s a prototypical Alabama quarterback throwing the ball but is the Tide’s second leading rusher.  That’s their biggest weakness.  One shot on an open quarterback leaves the Tide with a second 1st year quarterback in Blake Barnett whose experience consists of mop up duty versus USC, Western Kentucky and Kent State. Lane Kiffin won’t resist the taking long shots down the field and shouldn’t.  Arkansas’ defensive line must step up because they’ll have their opportunities to get to Hurts.

Offensively, the Razorbacks must avoid 3rd down situations against Alabama.  Those “must convert” situations which the Hogs have made good on are not as likely to work against Alabama, and this isn’t a game where winning the time of possession helps the Razorbacks.  The Hogs need to score as quickly as possible and need to convert on every trip into the red zone which has been problematic this year against lesser opponents.

If the Razorbacks can rattle the Tide’s quarterback, have an offensive scheme that works (trap blocking to free runners & using tight end size advantage) and avoid Special Teams disasters, a win isn’t out of reach.  It all comes down to:

Hit that line! Hit that line!
Keep on going!
Take that ball right
down the field!
Give a cheer. Rah! Rah!
Never fear. Rah! Rah!
Arkansas will never yield!

On your toes, Razorbacks,
to the finish,
Carry on with all your might!
For it’s A-A-A-R-K-A-N-S-A-S
for Arkansas!
Fight! Fight! Fi-i-i-ight!

We’d be remiss if we weren’t fair and balanced and include Alabama Fight Song “Yea Alabama” – Shirley Q Liquor.  — Sharp

 

 

This is how things look from Alabama’s side.

Alabama’s Offense v. Arkansas’ Defense

ALABAMA OFFENSEALABAMA NAT. RANKALABAMA VALUEvs.ARKANSAS VALUEARKANSAS NAT. RANKARKANSAS DEFENSE
Scoring Offense (128 ranked)1344vs.23.247Scoring Defense (128 ranked)
First Downs Offense (128 ranked)40111vs.8643First Downs Defense (128 ranked)
Total Offense (128 ranked)30484.4vs.374.452Total Defense (128 ranked)
Team Passing Efficiency (128 ranked)45145.32vs.115.0835Team Passing Efficiency Defense (128 ranked)
Rushing Offense (128 ranked)26231.6vs.163.473Rushing Defense (128 ranked)
Passing Offense (128 ranked)52252.8vs.21146Passing Yards Allowed (128 ranked)
Red Zone Offense (128 ranked)100.957vs.0.72224Red Zone Defense (123 ranked)
Sacks Allowed (127 ranked)572vs.2.638Team Sacks (128 ranked)
Tackles for Loss Allowed (128 ranked)495.4vs.661Team Tackles for Loss (128 ranked)
3rd Down Conversion Pct (128 ranked)230.487vs.0.4781153rd Down Conversion Pct Defense (128 ranked)
4th Down Conversion Pct (126 ranked)190.714vs.11244th Down Conversion Pct Defense (124 ranked)
Completion Percentage (128 ranked)300.632vs.nanaCompletion % Defense No Stat
Passing Yards per Completion (128 ranked)7512.27vs.nanaPassing Yards per Completion No Stat
Defensive TDs Allowed No Statnanavs.33Defensive TDs (9 ranked)

Alabama’s Defense v. Arkansas’ Offense

ALABAMA DEFENSEALABAMA NAT. RANKALABAMA VALUEvs.ARKANSAS VALUEARKANSAS NAT. RANKARKANSAS OFFENSE
Scoring Defense (128 ranked)913vs.3643Scoring Offense (128 ranked)
First Downs Defense (128 ranked)963vs.11928First Downs Offense (128 ranked)
Total Defense (128 ranked)8256.4vs.443.452Total Offense (128 ranked)
Team Passing Efficiency Defense (128 ranked)25110.56vs.166.4914Team Passing Efficiency (128 ranked)
Rushing Defense (128 ranked)368.4vs.19748Rushing Offense (128 ranked)
Passing Yards Allowed (128 ranked)27188vs.246.455Passing Offense (128 ranked)
Red Zone Defense (123 ranked)290.75vs.0.81577Red Zone Offense (128 ranked)
Team Sacks (128 ranked)173.4vs.1.431Sacks Allowed (127 ranked)
Team Tackles for Loss (128 ranked)456.6vs.5.449Tackles for Loss Allowed (128 ranked)
3rd Down Conversion Pct Defense (128 ranked)140.278vs.0.417553rd Down Conversion Pct (128 ranked)
4th Down Conversion Pct Defense (124 ranked)160.333vs.0.556614th Down Conversion Pct (126 ranked)
Completion % Defense No Statnanavs.0.67111Completion Percentage (128 ranked)
Passing Yards per Completion No Statnanavs.13.1147Passing Yards per Completion (128 ranked)
Defensive TDs (9 ranked)15vs.nanaDefensive TDs Allowed No Stat

Alabama’s Special Teams v. Arkansas’ Special Teams

ALABAMA KICKING/ RETURNSALABAMA NAT. RANKALABAMA VALUEvs.ARKANSAS VALUEARKANSAS NAT. RANKARKANSAS RETURNS/ KICKING
Kickoff Return Defense (128 ranked)5420.35vs.17.18116Kickoff Returns (128 ranked)
Punt Returns Against No Statnanavs.9.7148Punt Returns (128 ranked)
Punt Return Defense (128 ranked)637.75vs.42.7610Net Punting (128 ranked)
Blocked Kicks Allowed (128 ranked)10vs.27Blocked Kicks (19 ranked)
Blocked Punts Allowed (126 ranked)10vs.00Blocked Punts (5 ranked)
Kickoff Returns (128 ranked)5622.11vs.23.86108Kickoff Return Defense (128 ranked)
Punt Returns (128 ranked)619.67vs.nanaPunt Returns Against No Stat
Net Punting (128 ranked)1841.44vs.9.8389Punt Return Defense (128 ranked)
Blocked Kicks (19 ranked)191vs.01Blocked Kicks Allowed (128 ranked)
Blocked Punts (5 ranked)00vs.01Blocked Punts Allowed (126 ranked)

Alabama’s Turnovers & Takeaways v. Arkansas’  Takeaways & Turnovers

ALABAMA TURNOVERS LOST / WONALABAMA NAT. RANKALABAMA VALUEvs.ARKANSAS VALUEARKANSAS NAT. RANKARKANSAS TURNOVERS WON / LOST
Turnover Margin (128 ranked)310.6vs.310.6Turnover Margin (128 ranked)
Turnovers Lost (128 ranked)235vs.1019Turnovers Gained (127 ranked)
Fumbles Lost (127 ranked)834vs.515Fumbles Recovered (108 ranked)
Passes Had Intercepted (128 ranked)31vs.531Passes Intercepted (113 ranked)
Turnovers Gained (127 ranked)478vs.758Turnovers Lost (128 ranked)
Fumbles Recovered (108 ranked)155vs.5104Fumbles Lost (127 ranked)
Passes Intercepted (113 ranked)793vs.212Passes Had Intercepted (128 ranked)

2012 Rumor of Miles to Arkansas Costly for LSU

About 3:00 p.m. September 25, 2016,  The Advocate in Baton Rouge reported that Les Miles would be fired as LSU’s head coach.  As information developed, Louisiana native, former Ole Miss head coach, and former interim coach at USC, Ed Ogeron would be named the interim head coach for the Bengal Tigers.

But looming heavily over the last year of Miles’ tenure was the contract that came as a result of a rumor that Arkansas made a hard offer to Miles on November 27, 2012, to be the next Head Hog.

As Arkansas’ search for a new coach came to a close at the end of 2012, the New Orleans Times Picayune’s Jim Kleinpeter reported, “LSU Coach Les Miles has a ‘serious offer’ from Arkansas, source says“.  Supposedly the offer was for $27.5 million over 5 years, but further in the same article, another source attributed the first source’s information to speculation by Sports by Brooks in probably one of the last significant things Sports by Brooks did before disappearing from the online sports scene in April of 2013.

Of course Les Miles stayed at LSU, but the supposed run at Miles resulted in a contract amendment to keep him at LSU.   Dated January 1, 2013 the amended contract was at least Miles’ the third modification since his original hire with previous two amendments occurring on April 24, 2008 after his BCS National Championship season and again on August 31, 2011.

Some of the expense was immediate. LSU agreed to pay Miles an additional $550,000 per year from media revenue beginning in 2013.

Other provisions created new future obligations. Miles’ term of employment lengthened by two years to 2019, and LSU also agreed to pay Miles additional compensation based upon length of service which would trigger for the first time at the end of the 2017 season and be worth $750,000 to Miles at that point but worth nothing before then.

However, the January 1, 2013 agreement drastically changed the August 31, 2011 Miles’ buyout provisions if he was terminated without cause.

Side-by-side, they are:

Begin End Buyout 2011* Buyout 2013* Difference*
8/31/2012 12/31/2012 18.75 NA NA
1/1/2013 12/31/2013 15 15 0
1/1/2014 12/31/2014 15 15 0
1/1/2015 12/31/2015 11.25 15 +3.75
1/1/2016 12/31/2016 7.5 12.9 +5.4
1/1/2017 12/31/2017 3.75 12.9 +9.15
1/1/2018 12/31/2018 NA 8.6 +8.6
1/1/2019 12/31/2019 NA 4.3 +4.3
*In Millions

For 2016, Les Miles’ buyout increased by $5.4M from $7.5M to $12.9M.  In fairness, Miles has a good faith duty and obligation to seek other or related employment while LSU owes Miles the buyout amount over double the amount of time remaining in the contract. Other employment will reduce the payout for LSU. Conceivably Miles could volunteer for ESPN at Disney World and make bank.

Strictly in terms of cash, the rumor cost LSU $1.65M in immediate media money plus $5.4M in buyout or $7.05M in cash.

So why fire Miles now?  At the end of last year, it would have cost LSU $15,000,000.  Although the amount paid to him over the last year versus the increased buyout amount are roughly equal, LSU would have had to add the cost of staff severance and cost of acquiring a new staff within 2016. Firing Miles now results in a payout of $12.9 payout over 78 (39 months remaining on the contract times 2) months or roughly $165,384 per month.  Had they waited until December 2017, the $12.9M would have had been paid out over roughly 48 months or $268,750/month.  Holding onto the money, it might be used to make more money and reduce the total payout, but more important, it extends by 30 months the amount of time in which Miles might find other employment.

That’s how an Arkansas hiring rumor cost LSU about $7,000,000. You’re welcome, Les. Enjoy retirement. We’ll miss you.

Hunter Henry vs. the Greatest Receivers in Razorbacks History

The offensive side of the ball is no stranger to great playmakers who have worn the Razorback helmet over the decades. Scintillating talents like Lance Alworth, Matt Jones and Joe Adams come to mind. Yet, of all the legends who have earned permanent skybox seat licensure in Hog Heaven, only two became two-time first-team All-Americans: tailback Darren McFadden and receiver Chuck Dicus.

Arkansas junior Hunter Henry has a chance to join them next year.

Henry already accomplished the first part this past week when he was chosen as a first-team All-American by USA Today, the Associated Press and the Walter Camp Foundation.  The second part depends on whether the almost-certain high NFL draft pick goes pro in the spring of 2016 or spring of 2017. “I can certainly see where it might be in his best interest if he chose to leave and go to the pros,” Dicus says. “However, I can make the same argument the other way. Peyton Manning chose to stay. I think that it’d be hard to argue his success.”

On Sale for $17.99. FREE SHIPPING Today, (Monday, Dec. 14) only!     Use Discount Code “SBNFREESHIP”

Henry has steadily improved alongside his team these past three seasons in Fayetteville. As the Hogs have won more games in each season since 2014, Henry’s receptions have tracked upward, going from 28 receptions as a freshman, to 37 catches as a sophomore to 47 so far this year.

Although Henry caught one less touchdown (3) than he did as a freshman (4), 2015 has still been a great season by any means. Let’s look to see how it stacks up against some of the greatest Hogfathers in history. Below are some of Henry’s 2015 statistics compared to other Razorback receivers and tight ends who earned All-American honors. (Not included are rushing stats, or any kind of passing stats which might or might not derive from instantly classic laterals stylishly commemorated on Hanes 5180 Tagless Beefy Tees)

All-American Razorback Receivers/Tight Ends

Name

Year

Publication

Receiving Yds Per Gm

Total Receiving Yds

Recepts

Recs. Per Gm

Cobi Hamilton

2012

AP, PS

111.25

1,335

90

7.50

Jim Benton

1937

NANA

81.40

814

48

4.80

Anthony Lucas

1999

AP

68.50

822

37

3.08

Bobby Crockett

1965

FWAA

67.82

746

46

4.18

Chuck Dicus

1969

AFCA

62.55

688

42

3.82

Hunter Henry

2015

USA Today, WCF

53.92

647

46

3.83

Chuck Dicus

1970

AP, WCF, AFCA

52.45

577

38

3.45

Joe Adams

2011

PFW, FWAA, TSN

50.15

652

54

4.15

D.J. Williams

2010

SI, Scout.com*

48.23

627

54

4.15

Wear Schoonover

1929

NYS, GR

38.00

342

N/A

N/A

Lance Alworth

1961

FWAA

29.09

320

18

1.64

*Boldface denotes a first-team All-American selection.

As you can see, Henry’s season is around the middle of the pack as far as yardage output goes. Cobi Hamilton, of course, stands out as the leader here because during his senior season the entire proverbial barn was burning and his dynamic abilities often served as just about the only path out.

Next we see Jim Benton, the old-time legend who starred for the “Passing Porkers” of the late 1930s. Benton’s greater claim to fame, though, was becoming the Randy Moss of his day. He shattered almost every NFL receiving record alongside fellow Arkansan Don Hutson.

Interestingly, the other ultra-successful pro receiver on this list was the least impressive on this list. Many observers consider Lance Alworth to have been the best pro receiver of the 1960s, setting a record that to this day only Calvin Johnson has matched (5 career games of 200 receiving yards or more).

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9XxpwLNrqk[/youtube]

Head coach Frank Broyles deployed Alworth as an all-purpose back and flanker in a variety of ways. Alworth actually rushed for more yards in each of his seasons at Arkansas, tallying 531 rushing yards in 1961.

Of course, this was a very different, more ground-based era.  For a truer sense of what Alworth meant to his team, look at the below graph.

Here, we see how much each Razorback great was leaned on for production in the passing game relative to his teammates:

Name

Year

% of Team’s Tot. Receiving Yds

Tot. Receiving yards

Team’s Tot. Passing Yds

1

Bobby Crockett

1965

55.63%

746

1,341

2

Lance Alworth

1961

44.08%

320

726

3

Cobi Hamilton

2012

36.90%

1,335

3,618

4

Chuck Dicus

1969

35.70%

688

1,927

5

Anthony Lucas*

1999

31.91%

822

2,576

6

Chuck Dicus

1970

23.57%

577

2.448

7

Hunter Henry

2015

20.40%

647

3,171

8

Joe Adams

2011

16.68%

652

3,909

9

D.J. Williams

2010

14.45%

627

4,338

10

Wear Schoonover

1929

342

11

Jim Benton

1937

814

We don’t have team passing yards for Schoonover and Benton, but I feel confident at least one of these guys pushes Cobi Hamilton out of the top three by having been at least 37% responsible for his team’s passing output. As prodigious as Hamilton’s performances were, and as much as the 2012 Hogs offense depended on him, he still appears less critical to his team’s passing game as those guys in the 1960s.

Henry was never going to rank that high on this list because his position by its nature keeps a lid on the number of catches he may make in a given game. Plus, Henry has a very capable backup in teammate Jeremy Sprinkle who takes away passing yards Henry might have otherwise have had.

Yet, Henry’s influence should not be underestimated. Without the attention he drew from defenses all year long, receivers like Drew Morgan and Dominique Reed would not have been able to emerge like they have. Offensive coordinator Dan Enos deserves credit for more successfully employing Henry as a decoy with each passing month of the season. Indeed, with the exception of Bobby Petrino, no Arkansas coach has ever proven so adept at pass play calling.

If Enos and Henry stick together one more year, this will become more obvious.  If so, Darren McFadden’s and Chuck Dicus’ exclusive back-to-back All-American party of two had better make space for a third.


Evin Demirel writes about Arkansas football and history for the likes of WholeHogSports.com, OnlyInArk.com and the Daily Beast. At his blog BestOfArkansasSport.com, he delves into why Hunter Henry’s high school coach believes he’s cut out of the Jason Witten/Rob Gronkowski mold.


Legend

GR – Grantland Rice

TSN – The Sporting News

NANA – North American Newspaper Alliance

FWAA – Football Writers Association of America

AFCA – American Football Coaches Association

WCF – Walter Camp Foundation

AP – Associated Press

NYS – New York Sun

PFW – Pro Football Weekly

PS – Phil Steele College Football

 *Lucas was actually more dominant, though less decorated, in his junior season. He grabbed 43 catches for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.

NB: Wingback Clyde Scott was a fantastically versatile superstar for the Hogs in the late 1940s who deserves mention when it comes to the program’s all-time great playmakers. In his first season, he caught 11 catches for 183 yards, according to Jim Rasco, a researcher for the Little Rock Touchdown Club.

Scott became much more of a passing and running threat in his following two seasons, though. In 1948 the Associated Press and American Football Coaches Association named him a first-team All-American.

The Quandry of Anton Beard’s Good Fortune

Despite what you might have read in newspaper articles, heard on the radio, or understood from social media, Drug Courts are for substance abuse treatment and are not used for general pretrial diversion for any non-violent felony except when substance abuse is behind the behavior.  State laws, a published mission statement and the Washington and Madison Counties court administrative plan are clear in that regard.

There was nothing in the story regarding Anton Beard to suggest that there was a substance abuse problem before his deferral to Drug Court.

Let’s make one thing clear.  I’m 100% for Beard’s ability to get on track and away from whatever caused him problems, and unlike some, I believe in 2nd chances.

Is there a substance abuse problem or not?

If there is then it matters to a lot of people who make scholarships possible.

If there’s not, then why is he being permitted to go to that Court when similar programs resulting in no conviction are available?

If there is no substance abuse problem, then why is the county using drug court resources and making Beard go through drug treatment for a non-existent drug problem?

**Above Added at 11:30 p.m. 11/20/2015 and edited 8:15 a.m. 11/21/2015**

Let’s make sure that the background is familiar.

On July 22, 2015 Anton Beard, Jacorey Williams and Dustin Thomas were arrested upon suspicion of first degree forgery for use of counterfeit bills at Fayetteville, Arkansas, businesses. Three Hogs arrested on forgery charges released, WholeHogSports.com, by Matt Jones July 22, 2015 updated July 23, 2015

Then on September 1, 2015, the Washington County Prosecutor Matt Durrett filed a Felony Information formally charging Anton Beard with “Counts 1-3: Forgery in the First Degree — (B Felony)” for allegedly having passed counterfeit $20 bills at EZ Mart, Walgreens and Tobacco Outlet.

Forgery

 

After the charges were filed formally, not much happened publicly other than that the players entered not guilty pleas as expected, and there was a trial setting… at least until this week.

The Associated Press quoted Washington County Prosecutor Matt Durrett on Anton Beard’s situation as saying, “The charges are pending now. The case is just being continued, and if he completes it, they will be dismissed. But if not, then it will be as if drug court didn’t happen and he’ll be facing the full charges.”

College athletics fans “get” arrests and keep tabs on players and teams who seemingly use more than their fair share of athletes with “issues”. They have some sense of the money issues involved with athletes and that money makes college sports go ’round whether it be ticket prices, player stipends, March Madness success, creation of the Power 5 Conferences, or video games and the O’Bannon case.

Fans see the Anton Beard situation and have all sorts of things going through their heads. Across social media anyone can find conversations on:

  • player accountability
  • privilege of the scholarship and uniform
  • second chances
  • wondering what to think about it
  • wondering whether there’s athlete favoritism
  • throwing the book at wrongdoers
  • coaches and use of players in trouble with the law
  • character of players
  • players do so much, work so hard that they need to be paid
  • coaches recruiting players who get into trouble

and any number of other things.

But the one thing that’s unique here is the Drug Court twist.

Where were drugs or substance abuse in the charges or in the story?

Maybe not expressing it the same way, people are wondering whether this was not only an issue of allegedly passing counterfeit bills but also whether the allegations related in any way to substance abuse?

What difference does it make? It’s potentially TWO serious issues, not simply one, AND the issue is being glossed over.

What’s the nature of the problem with substance abuse?  What’s the substance?

People will look differently upon the problem depending upon what it is.

Jacorey Williams had two issues, and he’s now on Middle Tennessee’s squad sitting out for a year.

Let’s flip this around. Suppose that Beard doesn’t have a substance abuse problem, and there’s absolutely no association in the case with substance abuse.

Why is Beard going to Drug Court?

Some have contended that Drug Court is simply a vanilla “pretrial diversion” program. NO. It’s Not.

Prosecutor Matt Durrett’s quote was clear that Beard was going to “Drug Court” and that if Beard didn’t comply that Beard would have all charges reinstated.

The law which permits judicial districts to create drug courts says that a “defendant may be transferred to a pretrial or posttrial treatment program for drug abuse…”

Is there some aspect of “drug court” that deals with offenses which aren’t related to drugs?  The law creating it says that it’s specifically for substance abuse cases whether actual drug offenses or not.

After calling for some guidance, the Arkansas Supreme Court Administrative Orders were suggested. Administrative Order No. 14.1.C. provides for specialty courts like drug court. “Examples include “drug courts,” “mental health courts,” “veterans courts,” “DWI courts,” “Hope courts,” “smarter sentencing courts,” and “swift courts.” Specialty dockets or programs may be established within a subject-matter division of a circuit court if they are described in the circuit’s administrative plan and approved by the supreme court.”

Is there anything like a pretrial diversion court in Washington County other than Drug Court?  Or does Drug Court have a “non-drug related” section? Administrative Order 14 suggests that there should be an “administrative plan.”

Going down the Google rabbit hole, sure enough, one can find Washington/Madison County Fourth Judicial Circuit of Arkansas Amended Administrative Plan Effective January 1, 2015. With regard to Drug Court it provides that the Washington and Madison County Courts are not doing anything out of the ordinary or special in this Court.  The only other specialty court in Washington and Madison Counties is a Veteran’s Drug Treatment Court. The Judges put it in writing that their Drug Court is in conformity with state drug court laws as everyone would expect it to be.
Fourth Circuit_0_Page_3

 

The administrative plan answers one of the contentions that “drug court is for any charge.” Surely it is.

**Edit 11/21/2015 at 8:30 a.m.** WholeHogSports quoted the Prosecutor Matt Durrett on Monday. “Drug court is not solely for drug offenses,” Durrett said. “Mainly it’s for first-time, nonviolent offenses.” Many have referred to this quote to say that this court isn’t for substance abuse but for non-violent felony offenses.

It’s very lawyerly wording. “Drug court is not solely for drug offenses.”  That’s totally correct BUT…   ** End edit **

that’s a far cry from the implication was that someone could go to drug court UNRELATED to a substance abuse problem.

The program is “conducted in conformance with state drug court statutes.” Common sense or experience tells us that addicted people do all sorts of things that are related to drugs, and their offenses aren’t always “drug offenses” like buying, selling, transporting or manufacturing drugs. They might steal to support their addictions.  Their addictions might make them careless or unconcerned so that they damage property or hurt someone by accident.  The possibilities go on and on.

Yes, someone charged with ANY CHARGE, so long as it’s a felony, it’s non-violent AND it’s related to substance abuse can go to drug court to get treatment and get a break upon successful completion.

If that’s not definitive enough for doubters, a different search reveals Washington/Madison County Drug Treatment Court Drug Treatment Court Program Overview from the Arkansas Legislature website.

ScreenHunter_612 Nov. 20 20.43
It doesn’t get any clearer as to the purpose of Washington County’s Drug Court.  It’s there to take on substance abuse to reduce the rate of criminal activity because people who abuse substances tend to do stupid stuff.

Back to the Anton Beard situation…

His placement in Drug Court has one of two obvious possibilities… (1) The case has some involvement with substance abuse or (2) the court is being used in a convenient way.

How would it be convenient?  Well, what’s the upside to this for Beard?  What’s the upside to others?

With the diversion permissibly being pretrial in Drug Court, then he doesn’t have to be convicted in order to avail himself of the program.  Furthermore, the Drug Court proceedings are confidential (as they in part deal with private medical records related to treatment) so there aren’t pesky reporters.  Things stay quiet.  Apparently a question was asked in a recent legal education class to the individual who is in charge of the day-to-day record keeping for the Arkansas Crime Information Center how a person’s records would be kept if someone was hypothetically charged with counterfeiting and transferred to drug court.  If it’s done correctly, apparently the answer is that the arrest wouldn’t be revealed on an Arkansas State Police background check available to the public or most employers.  It is available to courts and law enforcement and some others.   Lastly, after all is said and done, if Beard completes the program successfully, then he would not have a conviction, his record would be sealed and it would only be available to a limited number of agencies or employers.

This is Beard’s path to make things straight and to avoid the consequence of actions by working to get better. Such programs have places whether related to drugs or not.  Anyone with any sense would pull for him to do well and never return to doing what he’s alleged to have done.

However, THIS program is for substance abuse, and there is no general pretrial diversion law. 

There’s a part of the story that fans deserve to know for all of the reasons above.

Whether through sweat equity, donating money, buying tickets or licensed gear or sending children to school there, Fans in many respects own the University of Arkansas program and deserve a clear, direct explanation.

 

Arkansas vs. Texas Tech Series

We hope you enjoy the Arkansas vs. Texas Tech Series!!

1957

1958

1959

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

1977

1978

1979

1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

Let’s Move Forward

Woe, woe, woe, woa.  Hold on!! T-T-TIME OUT!!  TIME, TIME, TIME!!! SOMEBODY STOP THE D*** CLOCK!!

Wait, where did THIS offense come from? I ask totally in the same way I’d ask, “You’re pregnant? How’d that happen?” Of course, we suppose that Dan Enos is the daddy, but how in the name of Mendel did this offensive baby get THESE genes?

The clear problem with Bret Bielema and Jim Chaney was that their two offensive schemes didn’t mesh together well. Chaney’s system was not designed to be run in the mix that seemed more like what Bret Bielema wanted to add to not having the players to stretch the field. That child matured and had its moments before leaving home.

Maybe we all presumed incorrectly that when Arkansas hired a new offensive coordinator that the plays would rumble behind Arkansas’ big offensive line and would continue to be a more run-oriented offense to pound the ball and control the clock. We presumed that the passing game was to complement that basic philosophy. The goals were to be effective, efficient and have potential for long plays.

Toledo coach Matt Campbell sounded somewhat confused or mislead when he described Arkansas’s offense as one that spread the field and that the Rockets would have to defend from east to west. That was certainly how the Hogs played against UTEP, but no one, except maybe him, thought that Arkansas scheme had actually changed to that style football. Who wouldn’t have heard Campbell and think, “I hate Auburn” as Bret Bielema recently declared. If there’s any constant Arkansas fans have seen for several years, moving the ball north and south is it. That’s defined Arkansas’ offenses.

However, this poor red-headed baby is bipolar and addled with ADHD. On Saturday it forgot what it was doing, ran all over the field – five times, hurt itself and didn’t get anything done. Against UTEP is was clicking in the zone.

Field vision, a sense of play development and/or an ability to hit the hole plagued the Hogs.  Usually people think of fumbles as results of a lack of full contact practice, but the ability to see where the people (and the plays) are going is a skill that changes with personnel and has to be honed.

Look at the tackles in the first picture.  They’re in three point stances.  Kody Walker is in the backfield, and the Hogs have a tight end on the left.

Ark Tol 3 down

Being in the end zone behind the play, the people around me saw the same as I did.  The wide hole on the right opened quickly and was very visible from 45 yards away.  Walker took the ball at the <. We were wishing for a cut and acceleration, but the play dies as he runs into a two-man pile in front of him.  Very fairly, most wouldn’t expect Kody Walker to make the play we saw.

Toledo vision

The same series has another play out of the I formation where both tackles are standing although the reason why the left TE is in a three point stance while the tackle to the inside of him isn’t eludes me.  Far from a comprehensive search, I looked through games and highlights over the last two years for about 2 hours. When the tackles were standing, in the past Arkansas’ rarely ran and a smaller number of those plays were up the middle.  However, Toledo wasn’t sold and has 8 men in the box with a safety cheating in as though he is going to be number 9.

I formation tackles standing

The play sets up horribly but looking at how far it’s progressed, Hatcher and Morgan appear to be staying put at the top of the frame.
Running out of quasi spread

By the next picture, the receivers’ delays appear to be on purpose as Hatcher appears to be headed in to seal the lane.  But what happens? Collins takes two steps to the right into the lane, sees pursuit from the linebackers clumped in the middle of the field and cuts back to the left where he’s stuffed.
Running out of quasi spread 2

But look at something else.  As you know, the dark line is the line of scrimmage.  How many Razorback linemen are at or beyond the line of scrimmage as these plays develop? Maybe it’s not a fair assessment as the top play was a draw so there’s some selling of a pass play. But on the second play the line hasn’t moved a single Toledo player in a positive direction.  Of course tackles kicking ends out wide usually takes the ends effectively out of the play, but that’s not a given.

I don’t know how the coaches perceive it, but defensive penetration in either play looks too much.

Based on more than these five pictures, although they’re nice examples, either the Toledo line was as strong and physical as the best of the SEC (in person they appeared to match up well physically with the offensive line) or the new-found emphasis on the pass has the offensive line standing up or moving backward to pass protect or to give the impression of a pass.

Petrino had trouble with exactly the same thing in his 2008 transition year even as the 2007 Rimington Award winner in Jonathan Luigs anchored the line.  Some of the line had blocked for McFadden and Jones and there was nothing pass oriented about that offense or blocking scheme.  The potential running problems were evident and then when the Hogs faced Texas, Arkansas ran for 42 yards with an official number of 11.  At that point, the blocking schemes were blended with the old, and Michael Smith ran for more than 100+ yards the next four games including 176 and 192 yards against Auburn and Kentucky.

Fortunately, a magic elixir exists here — return to a north-south game with passing being secondary and backs need to attack the holes that are open.

A Lot of Random Toledo Stuff before Arkansas Game

Since Razorbacks fans have dissected the U.T.E.P. game and thought overwhelmingly that Arkansas turned in a good performance, there’s not much left to say about the Hogs or to have any great insight that things should be any different this week.  Let’s find out a little about Toledo.

The University of Toledo is here

ScreenHunter_541 Sep. 10 20.55and the main section of the campus looks like

258

The University boasts 23,000 students, and it’s mascot name is “Rockets.”

ScreenHunter_543 Sep. 10 22.41

The Toledo Rockets hail from the Mid America Conference (MAC) where they play teams mainly unfamiliar to Razorback Fans save Northern Illinois which the Hogs beat 52-14 last season in Fayetteville.  The Huskies went on to an 11-3 record with losses to Central Michigan (then head coached by current Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos) and to Marshall in the Boca Raton Bowl.  Before then, Arkansas faced MAC opponent Eastern Michigan in 2009 when the Razorbacks whipped the Eagles 63-27 scoring 50 points before half.  (Btw, having driven through the Ohio Valley once, they pronounce Miami as “mee am mee.”)

ScreenHunter_544 Sep. 10 22.53

Arkansas and Toledo have never faced each other in football.

Matt Campbell, age 35, is in his fourth season as The Rockets’ head coach having started as an interim head coach in the 2011 Toledo victory (42-41) over Air Force in the Military Bowl.  He’s compiled a 26-13 record with trips to the 2012 Idaho Potato Bowl and the Go Daddy Bowl last season (a 63-44 winner over Arkansas State Red Wolves.)

This Rockets senior class isn’t without experience against the SEC.  Last year Toledo and Missouri completed a home-and-home series with Mizzou’s trip to Toledo’s “Glass Bowl” stadium.   Additionally the Rockets faced Tommy Tuberville’s Cincinnati squad last season and Iowa State which resulted in losses in both games.  In 2013 Toledo started out 0-2 in the SEC losing at Florida and Missouri meaning that some of the Toledo players have been to SEC venues. During the Matt Campbell era, Toledo has faced 5 ranked opponents with its only win coming in 2012 with Toledo scoring a 29-23 victory over #21 Cincinnati.

Over the same period Arkansas’ faced 17 ranked opponents including three topped ranked opponents in Alabama (2012, 2013) and Mississippi St.(2014) winning only 2 of those contests by shutting out No. 17 LSU 17-0 and No. 8 Ole Miss 30-0 in successive weeks.

Probably the biggest win in Toledo football’s history was a 13-10 victory over Michigan in 2008 in Ann Arbor. If you’re wondering, Ryan Mallett was at Michigan in 2007 and played extensively before being benched in favor of Chad Henne.  Mallett transferred to Arkansas in January 2008. Matt Campbell was not on the Toledo staff at the time.

Nick Saban’s first head coaching position was as Toledo’s head coach in 1990 leading the Rockets to a 9-2 record before leaving to become the DC of the Cleveland Browns in 1991.

Last week Toledo officially didn’t play a game that they lead 16-7 at the half over the State University of New York at Stony Brook Seawolves because lightning caused weather delays through the first half and yet another lightning delay pushed the start of the 3rd quarter beyond midnight.  At that point the game was called a “no contest.”  Oh so close!  Toledo could have beaten the Red Wolves and Seawolves in successive games.   Stony Brook scored the first touchdown and it was a couple of series before Toledo took the lead.  All that said, Toledo is labeling the Arkansas game as its “2nd Season Opener.”

Toledo’s information department notes, “Toledo’s new school president, Dr. Sharon Gaber, was most recently the provost and vice Chancellor for academic affairs at Arkansas. Gaber, who began her post at UT on July 1, will be attending the game. Her eldest daughter is a senior at Arkansas.”

And regarding returning players, “The Rockets return 47 letter winners and 15 starters from last year, as well as six All-MAC players.”

In Matt Campbell’s press conference earlier this week…

“In my opinion, I would have to believe this Arkansas team is one of the best teams in the country in college football.” He heaped praise on Arkansas’ offense and defense as well. As far as Brandon Allen goes, Campbell sees him as one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country because of his efficiency as a quarterback. As far as Arkansas’ game against UTEP showing the same offense that Dan Enos ran at Central Michigan, Campbell said that the thought there were some similarities but that he thought that was part of the reason Dan Enos got the job was because there were similarities already in what he did and what Arkansas was trying to be. He said that at Central Michigan, Enos had some big playmakers at receiver, a good running game and a big offensive line.

Wow. Campbell then goes into a segment where he notes that early on in the UTEP game that Arkansas spread the field to get the ball out to Arkansas’ skilled athletes and make plays horizontally. He said that Arkansas tried to make you defend the field east to west as well as north to south. Who’da thunk Bielema and spread offense would be in the same sentence without it followed by “I hate Auburn”?

Campbell talks about his “new offensive line” and thought they did well. [Among the five on the first team offensive line, they played in a total of 33 games last year.]

Campbell expects that teams like Arkansas will want to put as many points on the board as possible.

When faced with a question about whether Arkansas has an edge, Campbell stammered around repeating “we are who we are.”

The press conference looked like a coach who knew his team was about to be hammered so he didn’t want to add fuel to the fire.

Toledo returns their quarterbacks who accounted for the bulk of their passing yards last season in Phillip Ely and Logan Woodside.  If Ely sounds like a familiar name it’s because he backed up A.J. McCarron at Alabama in 2012 before transferring to Toledo in 2013.

Toledo’s main running back Kareem Hunt is suspended for this game. He rushed for 1631 yards in 2014 on 205 carries for a whopping 8.0 yards per carry accounting for 16 TDs.

The Rockets return both main receivers in Corey Jones and Alonzo Russell who combined for 1,620 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in 2014. Toledo had 7 players who had at least 10 catches over the season with four of them having TD catches from 40 yards or more.

On special teams, the Rockets start a freshman placekicker. Their punter is alright with a long of 51 yards last season.

Interestingly, the Hogs may see more adventures in the punt return game. Long snapper Brad Spelman backed up in 2 games last year and Junior Zach Lozar has yet to make the field in his three years at Toledo.

The only thing to add that hasn’t really been talked about from the Arkansas game last week that was a matter of concern was this mismatch on defense.  It’s difficult to know whether there was a missed assignment, the players were out of position or exactly what the issue was.  If it remains, it will be something that offenses go to against the Razorbacks.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/B1_0cIULqlY[/youtube]

 

The Best and Worst of Razorback Off-Season Articles, Part 1

I’m sick of you pretend girl and boy pens, all you do is annoy me
So I’ve been sent here to destroy you
And there’re million fans just like me
Who wear red like me; who Call the Hogs like me
Who love the Hill like me; walk, talk and bleed like me
Bret might be the next best thing but not quite me!

‘Cause I’m Hog Heavy yes I’m the real Heavy
All you other Hog Heavies are just imitating
So won’t the real Hog Heavy please stand up,
Please stand up, please stand up?

Guess there’s a Hog Heavy in all of us
Screw it, let’s all stand up

— apologies Eminem, “The Real Slim Shady”

 

Stand up for what’s worthy!

The Best articles written about the Arkansas Razorbacks over the off-season outclass the Worst in every conceivable way. Loaded with insight and details that let readers envision the writers’ ideas, they all advance a fans’ knowledge and understandings of past events which shape Razorback football. Some chronicle the program’s progress from a mechanical regime to one moving forward with sweet, free beats leaving no doubt in fans’ minds of the stark differences. However, the Best aren’t found exclusively in stories of triumph through change, information and data hand fans the game pieces and the trending behaviors to let them play the game out for themselves.

CBSSports’ Dennis Dodd, CampusRush’s Pete Thamel, Sporting News’ Matt Hayes, Whole Hog Sports’ Tom Murphy, and SBNation’s Bill Connelly make sports stories well worth reading. Each are unique for what they do, so to rank them would be like saying that Brandon Allen is better than Denver Kirkland who’s better than Cole Hedlund. Not only will you see these articles’ excellence, they’ll bring you up to speed for all you need to know as the Hogs host UTEP on Saturday. Enjoy!

Unique animals: Razorbacks gaining mental, physical edges under Bielema, CBSSports.com, Dennis Dodd, July 24, 2015, 11:33 a.m. ET

Written before training camp started and Jonathan Williams’s injury, “Unique animals” is a solid dog-days article with each sentence hitting a new point and moving from one to the next and covering aspects of the entire program quickly. Offense, defense, recruiting, impact players and facilities are all there with THE details at the heart of each subject. For a broad overview, Dodd does an excellent job.

Razorbacks, Reinvented: How Bret Bielema Changed the Football Culture at Arkansas, Campusrush.com, Pete Thamel, August 27, 2015

The majority of Pete Thamel’s audience is clearly not the Arkansas Razorbacks’ fanbase as his first paragraphs run east-west with the same tired story of Bobby Petrino’s success and demise and John L. Smith’s failures that Hog Fans lived. How many times does the story need to be told? It doesn’t. These recitals remind other folks. In that respect “Razorbacks, Reinvented” shakes before settling down into the story that perfectly places the focus on what the Razorback staff is doing to win.

Academics and the weight room have defined the Hogs’ transformation into a physical SEC team, and that’s precisely where Thamel spends his time. To put Bielema’s challenges into perspective, Thamel’s choice to interview Chris Ash is about as good as it gets. Ash came to Arkansas with Bielema as a trusted person and left for the DC position at Ohio State a year later. Ash possesses the first-hand knowledge of the events and is in a position to speak freely. The story moves from those areas into the third critical transformation which deals with Arkansas’ mentality meaning both football education and a winning perception under the label “Hoganese.” Thamel chose his three chords and struck the truth.

After inheriting mess, Bielema has Hogs believing they ‘absolutely can’ win it all, Sportingnews.com, Matt Hayes, August 12, 2015

Whether fans demand it or writers tend to produce information in quick sound bites as Dennis Dodd’s style piece above, it’s a style to which fans have become accustomed. We tend to drill indiscriminately for the information and miss the smell of the grass or the smell of the roughed up leather of the football, but frequently it isn’t there at all. Step back for a second and re-read the first sentence of Hayes’ work:

He is reminiscing now, emotionally and deftly weaving through the unthinkable, the unwatchable, and finally, the beautiful inevitable of the last three years for which no player in his right mind would have signed on.

He takes care to craft words, construct the sentence and begin a human story as more of a literary piece than a common sports story. That’s only a hint of his effort which produced this result.

In the interest of full disclosure, Matt messaged me as he was getting on the plane for Fayetteville in August. He flew on a Wednesday and returned on the next Friday to Florida. It’s to say that he travelled to Fayetteville to see The Hill first hand. He interviewed Coach Bielema and others and toured facilities.

But a writer doesn’t go through the motions to produce what Hayes has done here. It requires reflection and effort to have the subtext and extended metaphors he employs. Hayes makes a point of the 13 seniors instead of just a “group of seniors” or any numerous ways a senior class might be described. They are “13” in the sense that seniors could be considered an unlucky group for all that they’ve seen. But the “13” fought through difficulty to see a new beginning as Coach Bielema started the season practice with a “fitting proclamation.” It’s a tacit allusion to 13 colonies which started this country. They are the 13 who fought through to a new beginning.

Hayes takes concrete quotes and facts involving land to create a subtle metaphor that this revolution, this team is retaking Razorback land. From Petrino literally and figuratively landing in a ditch to John L. Smith digging a bigger hole, to Jonathan Williams describing the journey as being in a “foxhole,” and to the story being ultimately of “reclamation” (a term used specifically for the restoration of mined land), he describes what Bielema and these 13 did to overcome.

Coach Bielema’s words could certainly stand on their own, but they aren’t the same without Hayes’ description of how they were said, “his voice cracking, then rising and growing stronger.”

Hayes writes about Arkansas’ change in culture. Academics had to improve as a matter of decency because 95% of the players will never get a shot at playing in the NFL and even fewer players will make a roster and fewer still will play for the short average NFL career. Like Arkansas itself, only after Hayes describes the change in culture does football appear in a relevant way in the article with anticipation of the future.

Matt Hayes’ craft and effort are the story equivalent to watching the artistry of McFadden and Jones.

UA position analysis, WholeHogSports.com, Tom Murphy, August 30, 2015

When information on players is what you want, Tom Murphy covers each position for the Hogs telling a reader who to look for, why that player is in that position and lets the reader know what’s expected this season from a player or position. He stays focused on the task at hand allowing him to cover details fans may not see elsewhere. He includes stats for returning players, who’s likely to redshirt, who changed positions, where the Razorbacks are deep, what’s likely to happen with newcomers, who’s a leader, who’s earned time, who’s stood out, and who’s still battling. While not flashy, Murphy delivers what many fans want and does it well.

Bielema’s Arkansas breakthrough already happened. The hard part’s building on it.
SBNation.com, Bill Connelly, Aug 20, 2015, 3:29p

Bill Connelly shows why “stat guys” have their places in sports writing. They provide empirical support for what fans think they see or debunk common wisdom. Connelly tackles head-on the notion that somehow Arkansas’ close losses in 2014 were meaningful indicators of things to come. Understanding the lingo and methods can sometimes be difficult, but fans get conclusions.

Using previously established standards, Connelly says that the numbers not only support that Arkansas turned the corner last fall, but some stats placed the Hogs among the best in college football. Despite their record last season, his analysis leads him to write, “For now, consider this a warning. Bret Bielema’s almost got his pieces in order.” He addresses Arkansas’ pace of play, fourth quarter woes, Alex Collins and fumbling, the receiving corps and big plays, the real size of Arkansas’ offensive line, and a number of other topics including the quality of the Robb Smith hire. Adding big plays, he says, “would make this offense nearly impossible to stop.”

Without ever stepping foot on campus, Connelly’s story is a different one to tell.

Next up: The Hog Heavy is not so complimentary taking on some of worst wastes of pixel energy.