Ask Mike: 10-19

Pig Trail Nation

Q: Let’s begin with our weekly COVID update.

A. A lot going on this week and most of it was not good. We had our first two SEC games postponed because of COVID. Vanderbilt vs Missouri and Florida agsint LSU. In addition Florida head coach Dan Mullen was one of those at Flordia that tested positive. A lot of people are suggesting that the statement he made earlier about wanting to fill their stadium up with fans was somehow the reason why the team has a COID problem. That it showed he is careless about COVID guidelines. At this point there is no proof of that. Flordia officials are saying that a couple of player came back from the A&M game with COVID and didn’t report symptoms and it started to spread. If that’s true Florida fans sould be furious. That’s inexcusable. Also Alabama head coach Nick Saban tested positive but after working from home for several days he was allowed to coach his team after testing negative for three consecutive days. Some are saying that his orginal test was clearly a false positive. The situation at Arkansas continues to be good according to Hunter Yurachek who praised Sam Pittman’s handling of COVID guidelines as applied to his players. Also it was announced that the SEC handed out $100,000 fines to Tennessee, Ole Miss and Texas A&M because their coaches have been too lax in following mask guidelines during games. Greg Sanky, the SEC Commissioner, indicated that the fines will double for each additional volation.

Q. Our first question this week comes from Sed76 who asks: If the Big 12 called and said, ‘We are expanding. We can come very close or match the money you get from the SEC.’ Do the powers that be take that call and seriously listen? I get the prestige of the SEC but the regular screw jobs show exactly what the conference thinks of Arkansas.

A. Arkansas isn’t going anywhere. The athletic administration isn’t going to make a change and the majority of fans are against it. It’s one of those things where the fans get outraged when an incident occurs like two weeks ago at Auburn but you win a big game like Arkansas did against Ole Miss and the grumbling dies down until it happens again.

Q. WizardofhOgZ says: I have read some debate about having a nine game conference schedule with just three non-conference games. This pandemic has forced a change. After seeing how much fun this expanded conference schedule can be, I think many more will be for nine game SEC schedule sooner than later.

A. I don’t think it’s going to happen, Non conference games are necessary. Watching big games every week may be fun for you as a fan. It’s hard on coaches and players. Games against mid majors aren’t guaranteed wins but it’s usually not like playing an SEC game. Plus I hate to think about the effect it would have on some of these teams in non Power Five conferences if they don’t have the revenue from playing Power Five schools.

Q. PorkSoda wants to know: After what you have seen so far, what order would you objectively rank the new SEC coaches? Pittman, Leach, Kiffin, Drinkwitz?
Bonus Question: What do you think it will take to make a bowl and, which of the new coaches will make a bowl this year?

A. It’s way to early for that. A lot can change in a week two. Right now I’d go with Pittman, Kiffin, Drinkwitz and Leach. I think Pittman and Kiffin will make a bowl game.

Q. Semper_a_Hog wants to know: There is still a lot of emotion from the poor call at the end of the Auburn game. Has anyone ever done an objective historical review of calls that have gone against teams and impacted the outcome of games? It’d be interesting to see where Arkansas falls in this review.

A. I know of no such study. My guess is Arkansas would fall into a category of schools where these calls tend to be more frequent. But that’s just a guess. The bottom line is what I said here last week. The SEC needs to improve it’s football officiating. It’s basketball refs do a better job. Why? Football is too important to have all these controversies. So do something about it.

Q. #hammerdown says: Coach Pittman keeps the injury status of his players very quiet. He seems to be dissatisfied with players tweeting about their own health. Does it really make it harder for the opposing coach to game plan based on which players will be on the field.

A. The NFL has an automatic injury update policy. Honestly I think this has to do with betting on games. If everybody knows the injury situation of each team there’s going to be no insider information at work when it comes betting on games. In the NCAA it’s up to each coach to decide how much to reveal about injuries. As a coach I wouldn’t want my opponents to know about injuries so I would be like Coach Pittman. But honestly I don’t see a right or wrong in this. Just go what you think is best as the head coach.

Q. RazorRunner says: The box scores for college basketball routinely include a list of each player who got in the game and number of minutes played. It would be great to have something like that for football. Is there a good reason that this kind of reporting could not be done?

A. Yes. In basketball we’re talking about around total 14-15 players. In football it would be like 60 plus. The stat people would be overwhelmed. Take a look at this. This is a copy of the complete stat book for the Arkansas-Ole miss game. You know what it looks like for a basketball game. Like four pages. You add the stuff you want to what’s already here and it would be like a bible. I know some people are totally into stats. To me there has to be a limit on that stuff.

Q. Superhog 1959r says: I watched the Auburn game play several times. If the whistle had been blown and the play was dead, how could the Auburn players hold and tackle our guys going for the ball without a personal foul? Activity after a whistle can still result in penalties right? Why was that not called, it was reviewed

A. Holding calls are not reviewable but all we need to know about the refs ruling on that play after review and the SEC offices’ attempt to cover it’s backside is that the people in charge of the rules for college football announced last week that whistle or not, a play like that is reviewable and the team that comes up with the ball has recovered a fumble. Period. Too late to help the Hogs in that game but it sure says a lot about the attempted coverup by the SEC office.

Q. BloodRedHog asks: With the Hogs now 3-1*, do you have a new prediction for their final season record? The defense appears to be one of the SEC’s best.

A. I’ve said since the Mississippi State game that I think 4-5 wins is likely. To get more they’ll need to cut out these special teams gaffs and get the offense more consistent. But 4-5 SEC wins will likely earn them a bowl bid.

Q. DeltaBoy wants to know: Will Barry Odom be Defensive Coordinator of the Year in the SEC this year?

A. I’m not sure there is such a thing but there are two or three organizations that name a top assistant coach of the year and that’s nationally. If Arkansas defense continues to play at the level it has in the first four games I’d say Odom has a shot at the Broyles award. No current Razorback assistant coach has even won the Broyles Award but Gus Mazahn won it in 2010 when he was at Auburn. Greg Davis was at Arkansas in 93 under Danny Ford and won it in 2005 at Texas. But I think Odom has a shot at being the first current Arkansas assistant to win it. No other defense in the country has turned it around in one season like Arkansas has.

Q. my3boneheads has a similar question: How many awards do you think the Arkansas coaching staff will be considered for? Also, how will COVID affect the bowl season? Games are already being postponed.

A. There is an SEC coach of the year award. Sam Pittman might have a shot at that. Six wins might get him there. COVID and the bowls? Who knows? I think it might depend on how soon a vaccine is available. Also there is a new device that’s about to go on the market. It’s a contact tracer. You wear it and it basically sends contact data back to some sort of a super computer. So if somebody you’ve been in close contact with for a few minutes tests positive you get an alert. You would get tested and go into quarentine for 10 days. Supposedly if this became a thing like masks it would drop the COVID numbers to almost nothing,

Q. PooWig wants to know: How hard will it be to keep this coaching staff together? As we’ve become more and more successful and had more and more positive press, concerns are already growing of Odom or possibly even Pittman being courted for other jobs. How valid would you say these concerns are?

A. Concerns are growing where? On facebook? Sam Pittman is not going anywhere. I don’t think Odom would leave for another coordinator’s job. He and Pittman are really close. Anybody that knows anything about coordinators will tell you that who they work for is huge. Odom will get a good raise once this COVID stuff is over. As I have mantioned before he might leave for a good head coaching job but without asking him, and nobody has, there’s no way to know about that. If you notice Pittman keeps his assistant coaches pretty much away from the media during the season. That’s by design. He doesn’t want them distracted and I’m guessing that they appreciate that.

Q. austin.hogfan says: It seems like TAMU is playing much better and has the same opportunity to get healthy as we do with an extra week. So other than potentially COVID keeping players out of this game, what do you feel like is the biggest priority we should focus on?

A. Getting the offense more consistent. Especially the running game. Work on the goal line or red zone offense and fix those special teams problems. Honestly, special teams, as bad as it was under Morris, this is worse.

Q. NashWPS18 says: I’m pulling a Bob Holt here and going for a 2 for 1. What’s going on with Trey Knox? Is he buried on the WR depth chart? I’m assuming he’s healthy because I see him on special teams. Also.. Do we see this offense flow better with a future true dual threat in Hornsby?

A. He’s hardly buried. He’s one of the three starters at wide receiver. He’s just off to a slow start. He had a good game against Mississippi State. Dropped a couple of balls against Auburn. He’ll be fine. As for a future quarterback I’m not impressed with Jefferson, Hornsby or Lucas Coley who is committed for 2021. But mayby Kendal Briles can work some majic with them. I’d like to see another proven grad transfer. Like Ole Miss’ backup QB. That guy can run and he’s got a decent arm. There’s no indication that he’s leaving Ole Miss but he should. He’s too good to sit behind Matt Corral.

Q. bosshawg33 wants to know: By playing @A&M this year and (hopefully) in Fayetteville next year if Hunter gets his wish, does that extend the Jerry World contract 2 years to 2026, or not?

A. I’m told that decision has not been made. I’m going to speculate. I’ve mentioned this before. There’s no question the Aggies want this as a home and home game. When they expanded Kyle Field to 100,000 that was a no brainer. Arkansas needs that game on is Fayetteville schedule too. It’s big draw conference game. I think the Aggies will be let out of that contract and Arkansas will start playing a series of non confefrence games there each year. You still have a presence in Texas evey year for recruiting purposes. Hogs fans love to go to Dallas and to Jerryworld. There are also lots of Arkansas alums in he Dallas area. Keep the contract going but with different non conference opponents each year.

Q. EngrHog asks: Hypothetically if a bunch of new stud recruits wanted on board for 2021, you have to honor current commitments first, right? I wouldn’t think this staff would be the type to go back on their relationships with current commits. Right?

A. Right. There are a bunch of three star committments that they really like. Feel like they are under rated. Backing out of committments does happen but it’s never a good idea in my opinion. Pittman is not like that at all.

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