Q: Let’s begin with our weekly COVID update.
A. This will be short. Arkansas played its entire 10 game schedule. It wasn’t the best of seasons with the disruptions and small crowds but we did have college football and that was big. Basketball continues. There have been canceellatins but around 80% of games have been played. The vaccine arrived in Arkansas Monday morning. The first person vaccinated in this country was a medical worker in New York, Monday morning. Help is on the way in terms of college athletics. I think most athletes will take it. Not sureof the percentage. But it looks like college athletes will be getting vaccinated by March. If that happens we’ll likely have spring football, the NCAA basketball tournament and most of the college baseball season without these postponements. I really think we’ll have normal college athletics with full stadiums by the fall of 2021.
Q. Our first question is from Pig in the Pokey who asks: What really happened with Boyd?
A. He hasn’t said publicly. I can only tell you what I’ve been told. He was in real good position with the draft after the 2019 season. He made an emotional decision to come back under the new staff. COVID hit and created a 10 game, all SEC schedule with Georgia and Florida added, the top two teams in the East, and no nonconference games. All of that, with two fewer total games, pretty much assured that rushing totals were going to drop from 2019. Then he hurt an ankle in the Mississippi State game and it continued to affect him. He was told that if he didn’t get off of it and start a proper rehab it might still be an issue for draft workouts so he left. I think he was also mad at himself that he didn’t make a logical decision to leave after the 2019 season.
Q.Bolo’s Old lady wants to know: Are we expecting to lose any coaches?
A. You can never be sure but I don’t think so. The staff will keep working on developing players in the the bowl period, in the winter program and next spring. They get along. They are committed to getting the program back to where it needs to be. There are going to be rumors about Odum and Briles and vacant head coaching jobs but I think they’ll be back.
Q. Lanny says: You told us last week that you didn’t think Gus would be fired. Obviously you were wrong about that.
A. I knew he would get the ax sooner or later. Anybody that takes that job, including whoever they hire next, is gonna get run off at some point.. That’s what they do at Auburn. But they’ve got to pay Gus $10 million in the the next 30 days and at least a part of $11 million more depending on where he goes next and what that job pays. Who has that kind of money after the financial bath schools took this season with very limited ticket sales? They must have a pool of multi millionaires at Auburn who were willing to cough up that money. My guess is he’ll either have another job shortly or he’ll take a coordinators job for a year and wait for a better job at the end of next season. Either way Auburn is going be at least partially paying him to coach somewhere else.
Q. Arkansas Redneck asks: Do you think Gus Malzahn will eventually end up back at Arkansas?
A. I assume you mean as head coach. I don’t. The job isn’t going to be open as long as Sam Pittman wants it. Even after that I think Gus burned his bridges with his booster friends in this state when he dropped hints in 2017 that he would take it. They got rid of Jeff Long because they thought Long would never hire Gus. Supposedly they also came up with a huge financial package for him. His agent took it and approached Auburn and Gus re-upped there esssntially for what Arkansas had offered him. He got 21 million dollars out of them over the next three years plus the buyout we just mentioned. Arkansas helped made him a rich man. A lot of Arkansas boosters think it was worth it because it got Long out of here but they no longer believe that Arkansas is the job that Gus has always wanted. They’ve got a coach like that and his name is Sam Pittman.
Q. PorkSoda wants to know: Do you think the Ladybacks can make some noise in the 2021
A. Yes. They’re knocking on the door of the top 10. They’ve already beaten the defending national champs, the number four team in the country, the Baylor Bears.They’re playing a better halfcourt game this year with better rebounding. They still shoot the 3 ball well and have a really good transition game. Play excellent full court defense. No reason they can’t get a good seeding and win some NCAA tournement games.
Q. peakhog asks: How high of an extra hurdle do you see for a Razorback assistant coach to win the Broyles Award or a Razorback walk on to win the Burlsworth Award?
A. It might be tougher just because those awards originated in Little Rock and are given out there. They don’t want a hint of favoritism in the award. That would reduce the significance of it.
Barry Odom is on the list this year as is Grant Morgan. I don’t think Odom will win because of the drop off in the defense over the last four games but Morgan might. He’s had a great season.
Q. Jumpty wants to know: Who runs the Hog Stats Twitter page and website? That guy is awesome.
A. His name is Justin Gloor. It’s his own website and he built the data base uses in it from scratch. The U of A uses it because it’s better than anything they have. You are right. What’s he’s doing is amazing.
Q. Cowhog32 wonders: Will we ever beat A&M or Missouri again?? So tired of losing to these overrated programs!
A. Yes. It will happen. But don’t confuse your frustration with Mizzou into that being a rivalry game. A&M is. Missouri wants to be Arkansas rival because they don’t have a natural SEC rival but most Hog fans just want to beat em. They don’t look on them as a rival like, A&M, LSU, Auburn and Ole Miss.
Q. swmohogfan (southwest missouri hogfan) says; With some teams opting out of bowl games such as Boston College, do you believe the SEC will leave that decision up to each school? Getting the extra practice time would be important for the Hogs with continued development.
A. Of course they will. Sam Pittman has already said Arkansas will play, partly so they won’t end the season on the Alabama loss and mostly because it’s like an extra spring practice period in December. The development for next year begins almost iImmediately and the players have already said they look forward to it and playing in what looks to be theTexas Bowl against Texas, Oklahoma State or TCU.
Q. Stu says: Why don’t we just drop the pretense that what we are playing is football? Let’s just get rid of the pads and helmets and call it what it really is, ie flag football. These “targeting” calls are ridiculous and getting way out of hand.
A, The rule is fine. We saw a good example of that Satuday night in the Auburn-Mississippi State game. A Mississippi State player was flagged for targeting and he ended up in the hospital after leading with his helmet on a tackle. I’ve said this before. Helmet to helmet contact is more dangerous for the tackler than the ball carrier or receiver. The neck is not built to absorb the kind of compression that can take place on those type tackles. The problem is not the rule. It’s the way it’s being poorly reviewed. We’ve seen targeting called on players who do not make helmet to helmet contact or full force contact on the neck or head of a ball carrier or defender. This is just one example of how video review officials are misinterpreting what they’re looking at.
Q. Sed76 wants to know: Why is it so hard for Arkansas to recruit SEC quality depth across the board. This has been a issue for what seems like forever.
A. The SEC is the most competitive conference in football in recruiting. You can be in the top 20 nationally and in the bottom half of the conference. Also until you are an Alabama, LSU, Florida or Georgia, you’re probably not going to fill every need every year. You might load up on receivers and be short on quality D-Linemen. Get the linebackers you need and miss on a really good tight end.That’s just the way it is.
Q. austin.hogfan asks: So what does the bowl picture look like? Will Franks play or opt out to work for the NFL, as I assume he is not coming back next year.
A. It seems highly unlikely that he’s coming back but he hasn’t said publicly. I assume he’s going to play in the bowl game. hey have a week off. he can heal those ribs and his injured non throwing hand. Plus they’re not going to sctimmahge n these bowl practices. He should be 100% for the game. I’m not sure about KJ Jefferson.He said his MRI came back negative and indicated that he’ll be fine. But if he stretched an ACL that might slow him up for a week or two. We will know more about both of them after Wednesday’s Sam Pittman Zoom.
Q. We’ll end on some basketballl questions.Hogger55 says: After seeing Vanover knock down a couple threes, one from very deep, it’s hard to think he doesn’t head to the draft asap.What do you think?
A. Would depend on just how good his year is but he’s an Arkansas kid. It was his dream to play here. It looked like it wasn’t going to happen. Mike Anderson did not recruit him. He’s finally getting his chance and he’s loving it. He might just say here through his senior year and continue to get bigger and stronger to the point where he could be a legitimate NBA big man, not just a three point shooter.
Q. hawg66 says: We’re worried that our weak schedule isn’t going to prepare us for the conference schedule. That all of our freshmen are not playing enough. That we don’t have a true Alpha. That the sky is falling. Me and my household we won’t worry until there’s a reason.
A. I’d say you’ve got the right idea. 6-0 is 6-0. The team is loaded with talent. You got rebounding and an inside game that you didn’t have last year and two really good point guards who can distrible the ball and score. You’ve got two grad transfers that have scored over a thousand points in their career. Experianced leadership. Really good freshmen that will only get better. Let’s see how they handle conference player before worrying about it,
This note: We’re going to take a break from Ask Mike unil the new year. We’ll be back on Janury 4th to answer your questions about the bowl game, about the start of SEC basketball and hopefully some baseball questions.
See you then.