Category Archives: Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal

Nowhere to go but up

I mentioned yesterday that Arkansas may have the worst roster in the SEC.  How bad are things in Fayetteville?  This bad.

Neither of Arkansas’ top two quarterbacks from 2018 will begin this season as the starter at their new school.

Ty Storey was announced as the runner-up in his battle at Western Kentucky on Tuesday, while Cole Kelley has been unable to overtake the returning starter at Southeastern Louisiana.

The pair combined to start 11 of the Razorbacks’ 12 games last year…

Woof.

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Undefeated

It’s only Tuesday, but I’m pretty sure this is going down as my favorite story of the week.

Arkansas defensive backs Ryan Pulley and Kamren Curl have been suspended and are not expected to play in the Razorbacks’ game at Missouri on Friday.

Pulley and Curl were identified as the Arkansas players who were socializing with members of Mississippi State’s dance team prior to the Razorbacks’ 52-6 loss to the Bulldogs in Starkville, Miss., last Saturday.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Pulley and Curl were seen taking pictures with and talking to female members of the MSU squad prior to warmups.

“They will not be here today or yesterday or any part of this week for unacceptable behavior – actions that are completely unacceptable to anything we’re about,” Arkansas coach Chad Morris said Monday without specifically referencing the event at Mississippi State.

Classic.  Also, a handy excuse for the ass whipping Arky took from Mississippi State.

Asked about the incident following the game, Arkansas senior linebacker Dre Greenlaw said he was not aware of players talking with cheerleaders, but added, “That’s not something I would do. I surely wasn’t doing it.

“Some people have got different focuses. Obviously, you could see this game we weren’t in the right mindset.”

I’m sure suspending two starters in the secondary just in time to face Drew Lock will get your minds right, Dre.

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Approaching peak dumbass

We’re only three weeks into the season, and this may already qualify as the most embarrassing special teams play of 2018.

Arkansas was going to be a tough job this year, given the transition/personnel issues Chad Morris faces.  But damn, Hogs, you don’t need to go out of your way to make it worse.

************************************************************************

UPDATE:  Why aren’t they blowing the whistle?  LOL.

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It’s the little things that brighten my day.

I’m just now finding out with this tweet that Arkansas has a linebacker named Bumper Pool.  I am thoroughly pleased with that discovery.

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Wednesday morning buffet

One thing about August — it gets easier to fill the chafing dishes.

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Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal, Big Ten Football, Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics, Urban Meyer Points and Stares

“It’s not an easy question from an economic standpoint.”

Those of us who debate the question of the Cocktail Party remaining in Jacksonville might be interested in reading about Arkansas’ struggle with playing home games — at this point, more like a home game — in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium.

In this case, the math is pretty stark.

“If this was a dollars-and-cents decision, it’s easy,” says Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek, and he’s correct. That presentation from last fall shows Arkansas loses $3.7 million per game by playing in Little Rock instead of Fayetteville – and beginning this fall, after that construction is completed, the number is expected to jump to $4.7 million.

There appears to still be a “but”, though.

But Yurachek, who was hired in December, isn’t finished:

“It’s not an easy decision if you talk about how playing games in Little Rock is a part of the fabric of this great state,” he adds.

If the situation is unique, so is Arkansas’ relationship with the Razorbacks. Without competition from professional sports or a significant in-state rival, the state essentially coalesces around the Hogs. (“One of the things I’ve found here is that everybody is a Razorback fan in some way, shape or form, at some level,” Yurachek says.) The result is undivided loyalty unlike almost anywhere else (several million Nebraskans might disagree). Viewed through that prism, an anachronism like playing games off campus might make sense, even as it hemorrhages dollars.

Former athletic director Jeff Long, who declined comment, was generally seen as desirous of moving the games to Fayetteville. But it was never that simple. And others have weighed in, publicly but also privately, and may have altered the equation. In a statement provided to USA TODAY Sports, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson reiterated his support for keeping games in Little Rock.

“The history and traditions of Hog games at War Memorial Stadium are woven into the fabric of life in Arkansas,” Hutchinson said, “and I think it’s good for the University and Razorback fans across the state for that partnership to continue.”

That message is consistent with what Yurachek says he’s heard in several meetings with the governor. Others note that the governor appoints the university’s board of trustees, who’ll ultimately be asked to vote on the issue. A decision is expected by late spring or early summer, after Yurachek and Arkansas chancellor Joseph Steinmetz present a recommendation to the board.

“We fully understand what an important decision this is for all Razorback fans, especially for those who have been a part of the rich history and tradition of attending games at War Memorial Stadium for decades,” Steinmetz said in a statement provided to USA TODAY Sports. “We’ve taken the time to make sure we make the best decision possible for all involved.”

Politics and being the only game in town makes for a heady mix.  There are also infrastructure issues in the mix.

… Despite several renovations through the years, War Memorial Stadium is showing its age. In their presentation last fall, university officials said the stadium required significant facility upgrades with a price tag of up to $10 million in order to remain viable as a site for Razorback games. A recent feasibility study commissioned by Arkansas Parks and Tourism suggested $17 million in capital improvements were required. Those would likely be band-aids for the structure.

… For SEC games, a league rule requires the opponent to sign off on playing away from campus. And later this spring, a working group of SEC athletic directors is expected to unveil minimum standards for football venues, including for visitors’ and officials’ locker rooms (part of the $17 million in proposed improvements to War Memorial Stadium).

Speaking of politics, placating a powerful alum has created an even bigger home scheduling hurdle than Georgia has in Jax:

Another not insignificant piece to the puzzle: Through 2024, Arkansas is contracted to play its annual game with Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – fondly known as “Jerry World,” for Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a former Razorback player who remains vitally involved in the program.

Every other year, as the designated home team in the series, Arkansas essentially loses a home date. If the Razorbacks are also playing in Little Rock, they’ll lose two dates on campus. And in Arlington and Little Rock, NCAA rules don’t allow Arkansas to conduct the same recruiting activities as at games on campus.

Really, when you boil it down, Arkansas has it much worse than does Georgia.  Playing in Jacksonville is a financial plus, the stadium meets NFL standards and the Dawgs aren’t playing two home games a year off campus.  And yet, they’re still saying Little Rock has a chance.

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Next time, they’ll do better.

One positive development from player compensation becoming a reality is that I doubt we’ll see the days of allowing a coach who went 29-34 overall in five seasons at Arkansas, 11-29 in the SEC during his tenure to walk away with an $11.935 million buyout again.

Which is a good thing, considering how boneheaded both sides were about Bert’s hire in the first place.

Since getting fired, Bielema has thought a lot about what worked so well at Wisconsin and what didn’t work at Arkansas. The biggest difference between the two, he believes, was how well he understood the Badgers’ program before he took over as the head coach after spending two years as Barry Alvarez’s defensive coordinator. “I want to go into a situation where you know everything that’s going on,” Bielema said. “I didn’t have to worry about uncovering land mines halfway into the job.”

Bielema estimates that he’d spent about 24 hours in Arkansas in his entire life before taking the Razorbacks job. At Wisconsin, he knew exactly what the program’s strengths and deficiencies were. Plus, Alvarez had provided a spectacular blueprint for success. (A blueprint current Badgers coach Paul Chryst has followed quite well.) At Arkansas, Bielema had to learn all that on the job. The fallout from Bobby Petrino’s firing and a disastrous season with John L. Smith as the interim coach necessitated an overhaul, but if you examine Bielema’s record, he actually came through that part O.K. The 2015 season, when the Razorbacks went 8–5 overall and 5–3 in the SEC, seemed to indicate a turning of the corner.

But Bielema admits he didn’t initially realize how deep a team needed to be on both lines of scrimmage to succeed in the SEC West.

Might have been nice to know that before you jumped jobs.  And to think that many people believed Jeff Long was one of the most competent ADs in the business.

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Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal, Bert... uh... Bret Bielema, It's Just Bidness