Ask Mike: 1-21

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Mike Irwin: Our first question this week is from Lanny who says: In Central Arkansas one can see the excitement with the basketball team and football coaching staff. Is the same excitement building in NW Arkansas?
Yes. I think it’s everywhere. Even out of state. It’s all over social media too. They didn’t do much of anything right against Kentucky had to be a bid letdown for the fans but the usual freak out anger stuff wasn’t there. The fans love this coach and the excitement is starting to build with football. It might not be too long before Hogs fans will have both football and basketball winning in the same year.

Sed76 asks: If you could change the outcome of any one of the Razorbacks heartbreaking losses over the years which would it be and why?

For younger fans it would have to be that dropped foul ball game at the College World Series against Oregon. Cost Arkansas a national championship. But for the older crowd it’s the 69 football shootout with Texas. That loss has been a dagger in the heart of Hogs fans for over 50 years and counting.

holman24 wants to know: Of all the QBs we are looking at, who do you feel would be the best fit?

The one they signed Feleipe Franks. It’s interesting because there’s been a lot of pushback from Hogs fans on Facebook who don’t want him. Most of them either preferred D’eriq King, the grad transfer from Houston. Or they don’t want any grad transfer quarterbacks. So let’s break down both of those complaints.

  1. D’Eriq King is better because he’s a better runner. Hog fans on social media are obsessed with run pass quarterbacks. Whick is the main reason why they are infatuated with redshirt freshman KJ Jefferson. They also know that Sam Pittman said he wanted a run pass quarterback in his first press conference. There is also a belief that Kendal Briles feels the same way. Well he does….sort of. But Briles told our Tera Talmadge that while he wants a QB that can run, passing is a priority because running too much in the SEC will get a QB hurt. Franks can run and he a big QB at 6-6 and 220. But he was the number 5 drop back QB in his class coming out of high school. A four star who had strong passing numbers at Florida.
  2. Let’s address this notion that that bacause Ben Hicks and Nick Starkel didn’t pan out the new staff should bypass grad transfers and stick with developing Jefferson. Sorry but those folks are nuts. Do they really think Kendal Broyles doesn’t know what he’s doing but they do? Do they underatand that while Jefferson had a few nice moments later in the season he still very raw.? And what happens if Jefferson gets hurt which is a very real possibility? You got Jack Lindsey and John Stephens Jones and that’s it. Now I’ve gone on record as saying that Lindsey is better than a lot of fans think but if you don’t think this team doesn’t need another expereinced QB you need to find another sport to follow. The more options they have the better.

Now look, Franks has a reputation of being kind of a loose cannon. We saw him taunt Miami fans after a touchdown for Miami early last season. It’ll be up to Briles ot deal with that but there’s no way he would have gone after that kid if he thought he was a problem. To me Franks is the single biggest addition to this team in Pittman’s first recruiting class.

I was there in 1969 asks: Which was the greatest Razorback football team ever at the UA ? I think it was the 1977-78 Ron Calcagni led team who destroyed a great OU team in the Orange Bowl. I was 17 and I witnessed it with my parents in Miami. Most fun I had ever at a sporting event.

That’s the best Arkansas a team I’ve covered and they were fun to watch. Outstanding on both sides of the ball. But I still have to go with the 64 national champs. The only undefeated un-tied team in school history. The only D-1 team that season without a loss,

BloodRedHog says: Scotty Thurman, the new coach at Parkview, received a technical and removed his team from the court the other night. Thurman complained about officiating and said many in the LRSD were not happy with Thurman being the coach. What is this all about?

I don’t cover high school sports and I work out of Northwest Arkansas so I asked Wess Moore of our Fox affiliate in Little Rock about this. He said it had more to do with the way Scotty believes officials react to him. Like he’s a famous ex Razorback off the national championship team but they’re out to prove he’s not going to intimidate them. He wants to be treated like any other coach. Wess say he knows of no resentment in the LR school district toward Scotty.

redleg wants to know: Whom do you lay most of the blame on for the downfall of the Razorback football program? I feel that a lot of it goes all the way back to John White, and then continued through Jeff Long.

You’re on target. John White was a good chancellor who saw himself as an expert on college athletics. His meddling not only cause the football problems but had he stepped in an mediated the various disputes betwen Frank Broyles and Nolan…you know.,..act like a leader…. Nolan might have coaches for several more years. Also he pretty much blocked Bill Self from replacing Nolan in favor of that geat college basketball coach Stan Heath. And gave us thesearch firm that brought in John Pelphrey. And then there’s the role he plaed in running off Garry Blair who is one of the great coaches in women’s basketball at Texas A&M. So John White screwed up Razorback Football, Razorback basketball and Razorback Women’s basketball. There good news….after all these years it looks like all three sports are on the way back up.

porksoda asks: If you had to guess, regarding scoring per game, will the offense or defense improve more?

That’s a tough one. Almost a brain buster because both could not have been much worse. I’ll take a stab and say offense. I think the Q situation gets much better with a better QB coach. I think the O-line situation will improve dramatically with Sam Pittman running this team. He may not be the O-line coach but I have to believe he will be involved. With Kendal Briles as the offensive coordinator and his credentials in using running backs in his offense and with Rakeem Boyd coming back I think you’re gonna see an immediate impovement on the offensive side of the ball. But Barry Odom will made a difference with the defense too. Might not happen quite as fast as the offensive improvment but I could be wrong about that too.

jbcarol wants to know: How do you foresee this Hog basketball team faring in the NCAA Basketball Tournament in March?

First of all I wouldn’t pencil them in just yet. It’s gonna be interesting to see how they bounce back from that Kentucky loss. The SEC has a lot of teams like Mississippi State that have been up and down but are fully capable of getting hot and getting themselves in the tournament. Some think this team is starting to run out of gas. Mason Jones scoring has been down for three sright games. Isaiah Joe is battling a sore knee. Looks like it’s affecting his shooting. There defense has been off lately. I still think they’ll get in but the bracket will determine everything as far as how far they can go. I’d say two wins max. Probably one. The best days of this program are in front of it.

To baseball. Baconthesaddleagain asks: The preseason rankings are starting to come out for baseball, and the Hogs are a consensus or near consensus top 10 by the various polls. Who is the odd’s on favorite to get the ball on Friday games between Noland and Wicklander? Who are the likely candidates to get the ball on Sunday?

Full time practices begin Friday. We should hear from Dave Van Horn soon. Right now the scuttlebutt is that it’s a tossup between Wicklander and Nolan on which on goes on Fridays. The other one will probably be the Saturday guy. My best guess is, Kevin Kopps will be the Sunday starter. Maybe Caleb Bolden or one of the newcomers. There are several of them.

That’s it for another week. We’ll go on Monday next week. Things got pushed back a day this week because I had the flu last week. I’m fine now. Join us again then for another edition of Ask Mike.

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