A few weeks ago, ESPNU came to The Hill and gave the world a look inside Arkansas’ baseball program. If you missed this All-Access show, you missed something lovely. Never fear, however. They are re-airing it once more, on June 30th at 3:30pm. Isn’t DVR superb?
Full of exhilarating highlights like the frigid April 15th series opener against Mississippi State and the 2009 trip to Omaha, the crew of ESPNU covered Razorback baseball as we know it today. And they covered it well. So well in fact, I am a firm believer that this little thirty-minute spot will do great things for our recruiting. For one, previous teams featured on the All-Access program include: Duke basketball and Alabama football. Now as much as some Razorback fans may crinkle their noses, Alabama football is among the most elite in NCAA football programs. As is Duke basketball. The majority of people around the country would agree that Duke and Alabama are at the top in their respective sports. And they enjoyed the same attention from the All-Access crew. So what does that tell us about Arkansas baseball? I know what it tells me. It tells me that Arkansas is viewed as elite in the baseball world. The crew from All-Access had been watching Arkansas, knew they had an elite baseball program and they featured it. Seems legit to me.
There are other aspects to the presentation that I feel will also help us in recruiting. One being the way Arkansas fans are portrayed. Players and coaches alike could not speak well enough on behalf of the fans. How much electricity they bring to Baum Stadium and how loud the fans are. The size of the fan base, the passion, the heckling and the unconditional love they bring with them. Rain or shine. (Or in the case of the first home game of the season, freezing wind chills.) Yes, sir! Our fans are relentless. With shots of shirtless, painted-up men, beating stuffed tigers with plastic bats, it’s no wonder most think that Hog fans are a bunch of loons. I personally take that as a compliment. “Hawg Wild” is something Razorback fans are far from ashamed to be. And it is that very passion that admittedly aided in several players’ decisions to come here to play ball. Bo Bigham described the fans as “one big family”. I’d say that’s very accurate.
Dave Van Horn is one of several elite coaches at the University of Arkansas. He sealed a deal, keeping him at the Head Coach position for a very long time. Possibly until 2020, if he so chooses. (And I’d love to see that.) Security at the head coach position is provides a certain stability that appeals to young kids. Read: Recruits. Nobody wants to come play for a school that does not have a healthy relationship with their coach. Nor do they want to play for coach whose heart is not in it 100%. There are zero question marks of that caliber with Van Horn. By signing that contract, he made it clear that he is very committed to Arkansas. And we know if Van Horn is committed and the players are too, then the sky is the limit.
ESPNU’s All-Access program showed us two sides of Dave Van Horn: Coach Van Horn and Dad Van Horn. Dad Van Horn had a house-full of teenage kids on prom night. They all gathered at his home for their photo ops. You get to see the more sensitive side of Van Horn in that segment. The father figure side. And it’s a great side. He jokes around with his daughter’s prom date (which is very funny because you know most fathers dread their daughters’ prom night more than anything in the world) and he has a good time with all of the kids. It seemed like a genuine good time.
On the Coach Van Horn side, you get a tougher, more structured view of the man. Yet, the caring, father figure is still very much exposed. It’s not difficult to see how much he cares for his players and how much he loves his job. Van Horn discusses how there is no “sugar-coating” for the players. It takes some time to earn respect from Van Horn. (As it should.) But he’s not a brash individual. He is a goal-oriented, hard-working coach that loves the game and his players.
This ESPNU production in HD, lets you almost smell the grass and feel the crack of the bats. Combined with the appeal of one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country, top-tier coaching and some of the most ravenous fans in the nation? The All-Access program helped with our exposure as far as recruiting goes. It could help recruits here. The sheer grandeur that is Arkansas baseball is what will make them part of the family.
Aimee Miller for Hog Database