What Went Wrong in Tulsa? Will Yurachek Stand up to Sexton? And Did Burks make The Right Decision?

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Q. Our first question is from pignparadise who says: A lot has happened since your last show. How was your vacation?

A. It was great. I got to spend two weeks with my mother who is 95 and living in a retirement village in Lubbock called Raider Ranch. As you can guess she’s a big Texas Tech fan although I did talk her into watching Hog basketball on TV while I was there. She also a huge Dallas Cowboys fan.

She walks laps every day around a big pond that they have in her complex. No sign of her slowing down physically although her hearing is not great even with hearing aids. I learned to talk really loud and to turn the TV up even louder. I did get tired of watching Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.

Q. Our next question is about Arkansas getting hammered by O.U. on Saturday. Kris Turnage says: They are not a good team right now. Shouldn’t be ranked where they are. Bama, Kentucky, and a couple more will run them out of the gym if they don’t learn to play as a team.

A. Not sure that they are not a good team but certainly not a top 10 team. That’s been obvious for a while. What a lot of fans are saying right now is that this team can’t shoot. The numbers are actually better than last year so far from two point range but no question these guys are struggling from three point range. Other than that, all of the other offensive numbers are up. When you go to the defensive side yes, the numbers are down. Teams are shooting better against Arkansas than last year and quite a bit better from three point range. To me, at times, Arkansas looks bored playing defense. Like they want to hurry up and get back on offense.

After the game coach Muss complained that nobody is stepping up at the point and certainly at times that appears to be the case. It looks like we’ve got a really talented group of newcomers who have not yet meshed together consistently. I think once he decides on his top seven or eight, that will change.

Muss has been the coach here long enough that fans should understand he is all about how his teams are playing in February and beyond. Early January was rough last year and those guys went to the Elite Eight.

Q. Sue Slaten asks: What did you think about Musselman getting kicked out of the game? I liked it. The game was lost and it was his way of letting the refs know what he thought about the poor job they did. But some of my friends say he needs to take a chill pill.

A. Eric Musselman taking a chill pill? That’s not happening. He is what he is and I think most fans like his emotional approach to coaching. I’ve seen some complaints on social media about his outburst in Tulsa but I didn’t have any issue with it. I agree with you. He had nothing to lose at that point. But I also think some of that was him being frustrated with his own players. He really went off of them after the game. It’s not like he’s getting ejected from games on a regular basis.

Q. @SpudMoore has a message for Arkansas’ AD after Sam Pittman changed agents. He says: Don’t fall for that maggot (Jimmy) Sexton, @Hunter Yurachek. Stand strong. You’re building a great athletic department. Sexton has used us to get so many coaches raises and steered coaches away from here for years.

Q. Dr. Strangepork, on the same subject, wants to know: With Pittman changing agents, renegotiating his contract – does this signal a shift from his “aw shucks, I am just proud to be here” spirit to, “this is now a business and it IS about the money?”

Q. And HogNTX has this to say about it: Pittman has made it very clear that this is his last job and he’s exactly where he wants to be as a head coach. Hiring Sexton seems to be out of character for that statement. Can you help clarify potential reasons to hire him that make some sense?

Q. Finally there is this from @tcal25: I think we’re all making a stretch. Saban and Smart both have Sexton as their agents.

A. I must admit I was shocked at Pittman’s decision to go with Jimmy Sexton. Yes many high profile head coaches use him but I’m not sure Pittman understands how much the average Hog fan hates that guy. To them he’s all about squeezing AD’s for mega bucks with massive buyouts and all too often, like with Bret Bielema, the whole thing backfires on the football program. The coach gets his money and the fans and players get the shaft.

However Pittman did explain this, saying he’s not going anywhere. This is still going to be his last job and to him an agent, who is good at negotiating, is about more than his own contract. It’s also about getting his assistant coaches paid well and insuring that the football facilities remain top notch.

There’s a report that Sexton has asked for a new contract that would double Pittman’s salary. That would be about 7 million a year. It’s going to be interesting to see if Yurachek, who has expressed a dislike for huge salaries with monster buyouts, plays hardball with Sexton. Like maybe, “No, I’ll go with 5 million a year with a reasonable buyout and improved performance based incentives.”

It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out but just looking at social media it’s running about 60% pay Sam whatever he asks for and about 40% disappointment that Pittman went with Sexton as his agent.

Q. Referring to Treylon Burks opting out of the Outback Bowl, Leland Nixon says: Every player has a risk of injury every time they play. If you sign up to play then you sign up to PLAY the whole season.

A. Here’s what I’ve noticed about this issue on social media. About 95% of the fans posting fully support Burks’ decision to skip the Outback Bowl and start working to get ready for the NFL combine. The few, like Leland, are getting hammered by others for being out of touch with the way things work these days with first round draft choices. It’s silly, they say, to expect Burks to take a chance at seeing his stock drop.

To me, as long as the reaction is like this one, respectful with no name calling, those fans need to back off. We still have free speech in this country and contrary to what they are posting, it’s not slam dunk for potential first rounders to skip their team’s bowl game. Matt Corral from Ole Miss is playing. I’d like to see Burks play too. I’m not surprised at his decision and I will not criticize him for it but those who expected him to play? I get where they are coming from.

Q. VoleurDeDiamant says: Missouri was a good win but left something to be desired. Who is responsible for the waste of time we saw in the first 1/2? Why beat around the bush when Arkansas was obviously capable of scoring at will with bread-n-butter, north/south play calling?

A. Based on what Sam Pittman said at halftime it appeared to be Kendal Briles. Pittman pretty much said what you posted. That Arkansas needed to go vertical and stop trying to attack the edges on almost every play.

I’ve tried not to be too critical of Briles’ play calling mostly because we don’t know how much of what we see is him and how much of it is Pittman. In this case we know.

Two things about Briles. He loves his trick plays which usually don’t work and he likes to probe the edges of a defense. It usually takes the first quarter before he adjusts his strategy. Yes, this often seems like a waste.

On the other hand I have to give him an A plus for his development of KJ Jefferson this season. That’s the biggest single reason for Arkansas’ 8-4 record. So like anything else, you take some of the bad with a lot of good that Briles brings to the table.

Q. PorkSoda wants to know: Looking back at who you thought might be a break out player, was there anyone that surprised you about how well they played this year?

A. What I just said. K.J. Jefferson. I thought he was going to struggle throwing the ball. Boy was I wrong. He ended up as one of the most efficient passers in college football. Frankly they didn’t let him throw it enough. I feel really good about the 2022 season because he’s coming back.

Q. George W Bush Hog asks: What is the back story behind what happened with Mizzou, Pittman and Odom? Pittman said in the postgame that he didn’t want to get into it. It sounded like there was something more than just Mizzou being Odom’s last job.

A. That freaked a lot of fans out who thought it had something to do with Odom taking another job but as far as I know it was all about Odom going up against his former team and in particular Eliah Drinkwitz, the man who replaced him. Drinkwitz had popped off about Missouri dominating Arkansas. Pitman’s not the kind to respond to stuff like that but I think there was some bad blood there and Odom really wanted to put Drinkwitz in his place, which he did. Arkansas was up 34-9 before a late touchdown made the scoreboard a little more respectable. But the so called offensive genius saw his team held without a touchdown until a minute twenty-five left in the game.

Q. PennHOG wants to know: What’s the deal with the slippery plastic on the sidelines? It looked like players were going to get injured every time a play went off to the sidelines. I thought several times KJ was going to be be hurt sliding across that plastic like he was on skates during the Missouri game.

A. It’s called a coaches box blanket. Not sure what it’s made of but they put in down in high traffic areas to keep from wearing out the grass. I don’t know of any players who’ve been injured because of it.

Q. Razorboo wants to know: With Texas coming to the SEC in 2025 will the powers that be restart the Tea Sipper-A&M game on Thanksgiving weekend and move Arkansas-LSWHO back to its rightful place on the Friday after Thanksgiving?

A. There’s no way to know for sure but I’d say no to that. My guess is, the LSU-A&M game will stay where it is. Texas and A&M will be on a different date. I think LSU sees the Aggies as a bigger rival than Arkansas and I also think the SEC is bound and determined to make Hog fans accept Missouri as its rivalry game.

Q. hobhog says: I hear that ESPN wants to extend commercials to 3 MINUTES for FB games. The current 2:40 breaks are excruciating and really take the flow and air out of the atmosphere for those there. Is there anything that can stop the constant money grab at the expense of the actual game?

Is there anything that can stop the constant money grab at the expense of the actual game?

A. Probably not. With the kind of money the networks are giving to SEC schools in particular, those schools are not likely going to complain. So if they add time to those breaks, nobody in a position to challenge that decision will try to block it. And by the way, those commercial breaks drive TV viewers nuts too. There’s too many of them and they are too long.

Q. Slobberslob says: Brian Kelly to LSU! 113-40 at Notre Dame. That’s just shy of 9-3 on an ACC schedule. How long does he keep the job at 9-3? Welcome to the SEC west. I hope LSU has another bag of money to throw out the window. (They do)

A. It’s what we were talking about earlier. You have schools like Texas and LSU hiring coaches for big bucks with huge buyouts and firing them two or three years later. On a lesser scale Arkansas did that with Bielema and Chad Morris. It’s idiotic and trust me even at schools with huge resources, at some point this is gonna stop. ADs who push this nonsense are going to start getting fired and when that happens it will slow down.. Anyway it’s going to be fun to watch what happens to LSU over the next couple of seasons.

Q. Alex4Hogs88 says: It’s kind of funny how we gave OU Mike Woods and they gave us Jadon Haselwood. Though it was a shame that Woods didn’t have a huge year at OU. How much of an impact would he have had if he had stayed at UA? He would have definitely added another threat for opposing defenses to think about.

A. It might have made a difference in some games but his decision also helped Warren Thompson develop and he will be big for Arkansas next season. There’s some really good talent coming in at receiver but it helps to have a fifth year senior who has gone through the SEC wars before.

Q: PatBoat asks: With Sam Pittman’s second year completed who would you say had the better recruiting between him and Chad Morris their first two seasons?

A. Some would say Morris. Recruiting was about the only thing that went well during those two seasons. But I’d say it was close. The big difference is the portal. Transfer rules were different under Morris so there’s no way to know what he would have done with the new rules but no question that Pittman’s staff has made really good use of the portal and it keeps getting better. Recruiting is also picking up for year three.

Q. HBTHogs wants to know: If Lance Alworth was Bambi, does that make Treylon Burks MegaBambi?

A. Different types of receivers. Alworth’s nickname came from his quick feet, his ability to change directions on a dime. Burks is about size, power and speed plus huge hands that can grab a football like he’s got velcro on his gloves. If Alworth was Bambi I’d call Burks Grizzly. Big, mean and fast. Don’t kid yourself Grizzly bears can flat run.

Q. Semper_a_Hog asks: Will Jadon Haselwood be eligible to play in the Outback Bowl? Is that realistic or advisable?

A. No. New grad transfers are not eligible for any type of team activities until classes start in early January.

Q. lakecityhog wants to know: Is there any chance that Bowl practices might have a bit looser restrictions for the media? I am sure that I speak for a number of Hog fans that would love to hear some practice reports.

A. The practice availability for the Outback Bowl will be similar to what goes in the regular season. The media will see parts of three practices with the final two closed. Players and coaches will be available on a selected basis.
The media will be allowed to follow the team during bowl activities like on a trip to Busch Gardens.

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