Ask Mike: 1/13

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Our first question this week is from YellCountyHog21 who asks: When will the media get to interview the coordinators/assistants?
The two coordinators have already been interviewed. I’m guessing the rest of the staff won’t be available until after signing day but we’ll see. As I mentioned last week. We still don’t know a lot about how Pittman will handle the media. Every head coach has his own way of doing things.

coolhog reminds me: You had recently said you were told Hunter didn’t hire Mike Leach because he wanted too much money. Now that Miss. State has hired him, do you think your information was accurate.

Not exactly what I said. I said that Hunter Yuracheck got the impression that money was the deciding factor with Leach.
I’m told be people close to Leach that he really did want the Arkansas job but he was not willing to leave a comfortable job in a conference much leas competitive than the SEC West without getting paid to leave. Mississippi State clearly understood that because they’re paying him 5 million a year. With Leach it was all about the school being willing to make a commitment. Like if you’re willing to meet my salary requirement…. you’re really committed to me.

2and10Again wants to know: Do you think we are 1 solid QB away from a possible bowl appearance next season?

That’s probably an overstatement. It will take a better effort from the offensive line and a much improved defense. But the receivers are a big plus. So having a better situation at quarterback would make a big difference. Just not sure about a bowl game. The schedule is tougher next year.

BaconTheSaddleAgain says: Most Razorback coaches tend to focus on the traditional recruiting footprint. Pittman is doing something non-traditional with Texas, and Louisiana but also Georgia, Florida, and JUCOs. Do you think this strategy will play off?

I talked about this last week. The diversity is what I like. Having assistant coaches with really good ties to high school coaches all over Texas, in South Louisiana, in the Atlanta metro, in Missouri… with a head coach that is a proven recruiter in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas..;.that’s big.

BloodRedHog asks: With the football staff focused on recruiting and the first spring practice not until March, what can the current staff do with the players on campus now? Are there NCAA rules regarding what a staff can do in the off-season in regards to diet and exercise programs?

It’s all about the winter conditioning program. That’s up to the head strengh coach and his staff. Pittman has hired the top two assistants from Georgia and he’s gonna put those guys to work. The coaching staff cannot coach these guys until spring football starts but Pittman has already done somehting very important. He’s pushing back spring football as far as possible to give the strength and conditioning coaches more time to work with the players and more time for the coaches to get to know these players. Chad Morris was just the opposite. He went ot spring football early and finished early I think that was a mistake plus the weather in early April is usually too cold for a Red-White game. That first spring game in Little Rock under Morris was awful with a wind chill under freezing. So right off the bat I think Pittman is making a better decision for the players, the coaches and the fans.

Sed76 asks: Who was really responsible for the Chad Morris hire in December of 2017. Internet rumor that some swear by says Jerry Jones insisted on the hire. Others blame Julie Cromer Peoples. Jeff Long had been fired so who was truly running the circus during that search?

Nobody is ever going to know for sure. The official word has always been that Peoples hired Morris. She bragged about him being her best hire ever. I’ve been told by people I trust that the same boosters that tried and failed to hire Gus Malzahn took his recommendation of Morris and ran with it. Jerry Jones gave Morris a thumbs up but he did not force the hire. Peoples and chancellor Steinmetz were okay with the hire. Mike Leach was totally rejected by Peoples and for some reason she and others believed that Mike Norvell supposedly had character issues, something he flatly denied and something to this day has him really ticked off at the U of A about. It’s the main reason why he never considered the Arkansas job this time around. The bottom line…that job search was a mess. Never, ever, ever let boosters get involved. End of story.

holman24 wants to know: With the staff complete would u say this is a top 5 Arkansas coaching staff?
It’s hard to make that kind of judgement without seeing this staff coach this team on the field. Top five at Arkansas? Maybe. Frank had some good ones. Lou, did too. Hatfield? No. Crowe? No way. Ford? Nope. Nutt? No. Petrino? No. Bielema? No. Morris? You gotta be kidding me.

Iwastherein1969 recalls: Several years ago at Tiger Stadium you were doing a live report back to Fayetteville and suddenly were surrounded by several inebriated fans. (1) was that the most upset you’ve ever been at opposing fans, and (2) which SEC institution, in your opinion, has a fanbase with the least amount of class ?

Actually the only trouble I had at LSU was with a couple of drunk coeds. They were nice but I wasn’t about to put them on the air in their condition. LSU actually has a media arena for live shots and they have security. Those girls slipped in unnoticed
but they were quickly escorted out. You may be referring to that infamous College World Series incident that keeps popping up on the Internet. I thought they were LSU fans but it turned out they were part of a youth baseball team from Ohio in Omaha for a tournament. Clearly their coaches let them runs lose that week.

The school I like the least is Ole Miss. It’s not so much their fans but the frat boys on campus. With all this talk about what a wonderful experience the Grove is I’ll take Mississippi State in a heartbeat.

Jumpty asks: What are your thoughts on Pittman making his final on field coach a special teams coordinator? I personally like the hire because it has been a while since our special teams have been “special”.

I agree. Poor performance from the special teams can get you beat and as we saw under Chad Morris it can make your coaching staff look silly. This is just another early indication that even though he’s never been a head coach before Sam Pittman knows how things should be done.

LakeCityHog is curious about Briles: How do you see the quarterback position playing out? Does Briles seem to prefer a larger body type at QB or the smaller/quicker body type? I guess I am asking Jefferson or Jones?

He prefers a duel threat QB but like any coach he’d like to have one that is tall and is quick. I don’t think either Jefferson or Jones will be he starter next fall, Briles has already said he’d wants to bring in a grad transfer. There’s one out there he’s fore sure looking at. I can’t name him at this time. If he comes I’m not sure if he would be here for the spring or by the summer. Right now we know that Briles will be working with KJ Jefferson, Jack Lindsey and John Stephen Jones. Arkansas is also recruiting a 4 start run-pass quarterback out of Texas.

Hogapalooza wants to know: In your four decades of covering the Hogs have you ever seen a coach so candid in dissappointment and still be optimistic as coach Muss was the day after the LSU loss?

Good point. I’m not sure I have but it’s interesting. When his name first came up during the job search one of the boosters who didn’t want him was spreading a rumor that he was a real jerk in press conference after a loss. Obviously that was completely wrong. to me he’s a coach that will break down a loss in the same detail as a win. But once he’s done that he has such faith in these guys that he’s convinced that the problems that popped up in the loss are going to be corrected. He also really likes these players to the point where he can tear into Mason Jones when he does something crazy during a game but tell us afterward that he loves the guy.

BloodRedHog wants to know: What’s the story with the shirts Coach Musselman wears in press conferences? One day it’s Pepsi, then Hellmann’s mayo, then some other well-known product. All have Razorback logos on them as well.

From what we are told… those are companies that sponsor Hog basketball through the University. Musselman reached out on his own and offered the wear the various logos on his shirts. He doesn’t get paid extra for this. It’s his way of thanking those companies that support the basketball program

Lanny says: This basketball team never quits and is 13-2 but we have fans still complaining in games about mistakes then they look silly when Arkansas comes back and wins. What will it take to satisfy some of these people?

I think a lot of fans are convinced that Razorback athletics is snake bit or maybe cursed. Remember the curse of Nolan concept? Supposedly the program won’t have the success it had under Eddie and Nolan until they made it up to Nolan for firing him. Well, they finally named the court after him and Nolan is happy these days. His wife is ill and that keeps him from going to some of the games but he likes Musselman and supports the program 100%. So if you believe in curses maybe it’s over. I don’t but I also don’t sit around worrying about when is the hammer gonna drop and the basketball program suddenly goes bad. But some fans have seen this happen too many times and they’re still worried about it. The longer these guys continue to win the more the fans will become convinced that it’s real. However I look at this season as extra gravy. No matter that happens the rest of this season the program looks like it’s going to another level next year and beyond. However, that’s a two edged sword. The better a program becomes, the more demanding some fans become. That’s he way it works.

We’ll close it out with a baseball question…..

Arkansas WR asks: Will this be our best baseball team of the DVH era? Last year for Martin and Kjerstad, also Top 5 recruiting classes for the last couple years.

Was out at Baum Stadium for the first workout of the season today. True freshman Robert Moore caught my eye. He’s an early enrollee out of Kansas City. His dad is the GM of the KC Royals so he has baseball in his DNA. Dave Van Horn told me that Moore turns the double play quicker than any player he’s ever recruited. He’s also a switch hitter. Throw in the returning starters on this team and three different college baseball polls have Arkansas in the top 10 to start the season. In order to be the best team of the Van Horn era this team would need to win the national championship. I won’t go that far but I would not rule it out either.

That’s it for another week. Join me next Monday for another edition of Ask Mike.

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