Q. RazorAlex88 says: I’m not questioning the hire of Marcus Woodson but what made me really curious was how a portion (not sure how big to be honest) of Florida State fans were glad that we took him off their hands. I don’t quite understand that.
A. Most of the time when a coach leaves a school in what is seen as a lateral move, some fans are going to explain it as, we’re glad he’s gone. It’s a defensive mechanism. The key here is simple. Were Florida State fans criticizing Woodson before he took the Arkansas job? I can’t see why they would. Before Woodson, Florida State was 12th in the ACC in pass defense. This past season they were first.
So why did Woodson leave For Arkansas? He had worked with new Arkansas defensive coordinator Travis Williams at Auburn under Gus Malzahn where Woodson was a co-coordinator. He got the same deal here and Williams’ defensive scheme fits him better.
By all accounts this appears to be a home run hire by Sam Pittman.
Q. LostinSwine says: I’ll try again. Do you know more about the “cancer” in the locker room? Was it just the S&C coach or was there
more going on?
A. What we’ve got here are rumors vs what is said in public. Publicly Sam Pittman said he fired the former strength coach because one of the problems in the 2022 season was a lack of physicality among the players on the team.
The rumor is that he was badmouthing the head coach to the players in the weight room. Like I keeping saying, if I wasn’t there to see it or hear it I’ll go with the public version over rumors.
The same is true of an assistant coach that is no longer on the staff. Supposedly he was criticizing the head coach to some of the players. Some fans on Hogville and Facebook are claiming that the team will be much better off in 2023 now that that staff has been reorganized with everybody on the same page.
I still believe that what happened in 2022 was mostly the result of injuries to KJ Jefferson and in the secondary.
But as a fan you can believe whatever you want.
Q. Swine American says: Many of us heart driven Razorback fans see Dan Enos as a retread with an offensive system that wasn’t special when he came here the first time. Are you optimistic about Enos? If so, why?
A. Very Optimistic. First of all I disagree with your statement that Enos’ system was nothing special at Arkansas. The one season that Enos and Pittman worked together was 2015. Arkansas has some early issues and bounced back to earn a trip to the Liberty Bowl where they beat Kansas State convincingly. There was an amazing comeback at Tennessee where they were down 14-0 early in the 1st quarter and came back to win in front of 100,000 Vols fans. If you ask Brandon Allen or his dad, who was a longtime assistant coach at Arkansas, they will both tell you that Enos’ coaching got Brandon into the NFL. The passing game was incredible that season.
In 2016 Pittman left for Georgia. Bret Bielema hired an offensive line coach who was in over his head. You can’t have a passing game without pass blocking. So yes, the offense went backwards the next two years but that wasn’t on Enos.
I like this hire because the head coach hired a guy that he has worked with before. He knows what he’s getting. They are on the same page. That wasn’t always true of Kendal Briles.
Q. WV Hogfan asks: Has the U of A ever consider retiring the #5 jersey to honor Darren McFadden?
A. The athletic department has a basic policy against retiring numbers because it causes problems with current rosters. Instead they prefer to honor numbers, rather than retire them. There are only three retired numbers. Clyde Scott, Brandon Burlsworth and Sidney Moncrief. The athletic department is probably going to recognize D-Mac’s number at some point but there there’s no indication that it will be retired.
Q. Dr. Strangepork says: When talking about Razorback recruiting the phrase “it is hard to recruit to Fayetteville” is how I used to describe it. I always wonder why they say that when there are a LOT of colleges located in some pretty awful places. Is it really hard or is it just negative recruiting?
A. There are stereotypes about NW Arkansas. Like it’s a backwoods, hillbilly place. Some coaches use it against Arkansas in recruiting. But if Arkansas can get a recruit on campus they quickly see that claim is nonsense. There are out of state kids who fall in love with this place the first time they see it and they live here after their playing days are over.
The only disadvantage I see in recruiting is the smaller recruiting base Arkansas has compared to several other other SEC schools. Arkansas coaches typically have to go farther away from their campus to bring in the number of quality athletes they need to win.
Q. pghawg1 says: Next yr in football our 1st 3 conference games are on the road. I know 2020 was a COVID schedule, but why could the SEC not schedule our game with Florida in Fayetteville this yr instead of us having to there again? Can’t HY address his concerns on this .
A. I think Hunter Yurachek has done all he can do to push Arkansas issues with the SEC office. He has a very good relationship with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. I think that’s one reason why that targeting call in the Liberty Bowl was changed and when there was a public admission of a mistake by an SEC replay official in the Missouri basketball game. But there’s only so much he can do. Trying to be fair with the schedules of 14 football and basketball teams is not easy. But I remain convinced that Arkansas is at the bottom of the list when these things come up. I think it’s mostly because the state of Arkansas has the smallest number of TV homes in the SEC footprint.
Theoretically one way to erase this is to win big. But Arkansas has the best NCAA tournament record of any SEC team over the past two seasons. And yet it seems like every year they early part of the SEC schedule is loaded against Arkansas.
As far as playing Florida at Florida two straight times, the league office says the 2000 game was a COVID scheduling issue. Once that season was over the league office went back to its regular rotation. Which is why Arkansas played Georgia in both 2000 and 2001.
Q. Sharkansas asks: Have you ever met the writer “Kent Smith”? Is he a real person? Thanks.
A. I don’t recall meeting him but I might have. He works for Andy Hawkins who owns an Arkansas based athletics website brokered by Sports Illustrated. Ken Smith is from Warren, Arkansas. He was a quarterback there in the mid 90’s and is a UCA graduate.
Q. Darren DeLoach says: Whining about officiating is a loser’s mentality, but gee whiz, this is getting a bit ridiculous. Our basketball team is accumulating fouls at an alarming rate while not getting the same in return. What on earth is going on??
A. The Baylor game was more imbalanced in the second half. Arkansas shot just four free throws in the last 20 minutes of the game. Baylor shot 15. As you pointed out, basically the refs called a tight game when Arkansas was playing defense but they swallowed their whistles when Baylor was playing defense.
Arkansas plays a very aggressive defense so yes, they’re gonna get fouls call on them. But it’s not a level playing field. It wasn’t at Vanderbilt. It wasn’t at Missouri and it wasn’t at Baylor.
There’s no question that refs get influenced by the crowd. That’s why they always say, you’ve gotta be several points better than your opponent to win on the road.
Saturday morning I watched one of my grandsons play basketball in an elementary school league for fifth graders. The volunteer refs in that game did an amazing job.. Not one time did I disagree with anything they called. The parents in the stands never got on them. These are kids and they made a lot of mistakes. Traveling. Double dribbles. Stepping on the baseline. Staying in the lane more than five seconds. Over and back. The refs are actually helping teach these kids how to play the game by the fouls that they call. But they also got it right.
Then I went to work and watched the Arkansas-Baylor game. I was stunned at the difference. The players were much, much better but the refs were worse.
How can that be? To me there’s only one explanation. The volunteer refs were under no pressure and just did their jobs. The college refs were influenced by the crowd, the coaches and the players because of the aggressive nature of the game at that level.
Q. Billy Barber asks: Do you believe calls in SEC games is the reason the football team and basketball teams seem to do much better in NCAA non conference games and in tournaments??
A. It’s different in the two sports. In football you’re gonna win more non conference games because mostly they are played at home and because most non conference opponents are not the same level of competition as SEC teams.
Bowl games are going to be more evenly officiated but winning a bowl game usually has more to do with one team being happy to be in a bowl game and an opponent that feels like it deserved a better bowl.
In basketball you’re gonna win most of the non conference games you play that are at home because they are usually against a mid major type opponent.
SEC play is home and home. The competition is better and road games are tough to win. With neutral site tournament games, the officiating tends to be more even so more often than not, winning or losing comes down to which team is actually better.
Q. Hogdogger says: It seems like there there isn’t much movement on the coaching carousel in college basketball like there is in football. Am I wrong in comparing the turnover ratios for basketball vs football.
A. I don’t think there is a huge difference but yes, SEC schools are much more likely to dump a football coach after a couple of average seasons than a basketball coach. The reason is simple. Football is the revenue producer. There is no comparison in the amount of money generated by football and basketball. So the more frequent coaching turnovers in football is all about money.
Q. Pigsfeat says: I am happy for Baye Fall and am not sure what all is included in the process to beaMcDonald’s AA in basketball but how was Layden Blocker not on the roster?
A. Kevin McPherson, the basketball guru for Pig Trail Nation and Hogville called it a snub. Right before the team was picked Blocker dropped five spots in the ESPN rankings. He ended up 26th. However three players ranked below Blocker were picked. LeBron James’ son was one of them. Sounds political but that’s how it goes. Blocker will have plenty of opportunities to prove them wrong next season.
Q. Kevin says: I heard the excuses for the miserable performance of the women’s basketball team at USC, what is the excuse for the at home performance vs ‘Bama. Time for excuses should be over.
A. Well, Mike neighbors, who is not noted for criticizing his players in post game pressers was critical of their turnovers in that game, even to the point of hinting that he might make some lineup changes.
Look at was a bad look at home against a team they needed to beat. Alabama was aggressive, played much harder and much more focused than Arkansas. The story was pretty much the same for the Ole Miss loss on Sunday. Both Alabama and Ole Miss are good teams but Arkansas led Ole Miss by 19 at the half and just lost focus in the second half. Lost that game in OT.
I’m hearing two different things when I talk to people I trust about Arkansas women’s basketball. One view is that Neighbors finally has the players to compete successfully in the SEC but his better players are freshmen and sophomores. They think he’s on the right path.
Others tell me that he coaches a finesse style in a physical basketball conference. They also say he’s too soft as a head coach and his teams reflect his personality.
Regardless of what you chose to believe, this season is far from over and to me it could still go either way.
Q. Dr. Starcs asks: Care to address the complete lack of rebounding from the women’s team now?
A. The rebounding disadvantage against South Carolina was somewhat explainable. South Carolina goes 6-7, 6-5, 6-4, 6-3, and 6-3 inside. Plus Arkansas came into that game leg weary two days after a tough road game against LSU.
The rebounding disparity against Ole Miss is harder to explain. The Rebels have a 6-4 center. After that, their tallest player is 6-2. Arkansas goes 6-5, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-2. One thing that probably hurt, Arkansas two tallest players, Maryam Douda and Jersey Wolfenbarger played a combined five and a half minutes.
Q. TimTeNO says: It’s so close to baseball season! DVH has said he has the best pitching core he’s ever had.. is that true, or is he just using coach speak?
A. I would never associate the term coach speak with DVH. He’s the opposite of that. A lot of what he says is based on fall ball. He thinks he’s got at least five pitchers who are good enough to be in the weekend rotation, Jaxon Wiggins, Hagan Smith, Will McEntire, Brady Tygart & Zach Morris. DVH says that’s good because it means he can rest one of his starters later in the season if that starter begins to wear down a bit. It also means that he’s got some extra long relief guys in his bullpen, a bullpen that he says, is deeper than he’s ever had. They’ve got got a portal transfer pitcher they really like and two JUCOs who are very promising, plus a couple of freshmen from last year that they’re counting on.
That’s not just his opinion. Most of the various baseball publications have mentioned Arkansas as having one of the best pitching staffs on paper, coming into the season.
But we’ll find out. Arkansas’ scheduled is loaded with tough games starting with Texas, TCU & Oklahoma State the first three games of the season.
Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy wants to know: Do you have any stories of interest from the “old” press row? Wasn’t there a dust up with Gerald Myers once?
A. One year in Barnhill he got mad at the refs and was nailed with three technical fouls. So they kicked him out of the game. He went to the visitors locker-room but the door was locked. While was waiting for the door to be unlocked, Arkansas newspaper writer Grant Hall came out of the arena to talk to him and supposedly Meyers went off on how badly the refs were influenced by the crowd at Barnhill. Said he was sick of dealing with it.
There are those who said that Meyers was a nice guy away from basketball. I was never around him away from basketball. To me he was a complete jerk to the visiting media. I actually saw him play for Texas Tech when I was in junior high. He had he same sour look on his face as a player that he later had as a coach.
As Tech’s Director of Athletics he helped engineer the firing of Mike Leach which was the single dumbest thing ever done by the Tech athletic department.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he didn’t stay in Lubbock after he retired. The last time I checked he was living in the Dallas area.