It is time once again for our weekly Q&A with veteran analyst Mike Irwin as he answers your questions about Arkansas Athletics.
Q: Our first question comes from “JHicks3636” who says, This is more of a suggestion than a question. Every week you get one or more questions about the potential Covid effect on sports. Until the situation eases could you maybe start off each program with your update on the situation.
A. Good idea. We’ll start doing that. After a rash of stories two weeks ago about various numbers of players testing positive at different schools around the country there’s been nothing new for several days. In this case no news is good news. I’ll continue to say this, as long as these players continue to test positive with no hospitalizations involved then we’re taking about a 10 to 14 day quarantine and they’re back working out again. There is an issue with the need for all athletes to follow existing guidelines to avoid infecting others. Wear a mask indoors. When you’re indoors don’t stay in close contact with anyone for a long period of time, say 10 minutes or more. Avoid the elderly.
We’ll have another update next Monday.
Q. Arkansas Redneck says: These coronavirus cases among various college football teams since they started back practicing seem to vary greatly. Some schools like LSU and Clemson have had a bunch of them. Other’s seem to have had no problem so far. What do you make of this?
A. In some cases I think some schools are not reporting their cases because the athletes in question are not sick. Also long as they’re not sick they are simply isolated so they can’t spread the virus. When they test negative they rejoin their teammates and continue with the strength and conditioning workouts. But I also think that some athletic departments are doing a better job of keeping their players away problem situation than others. Specifically bars and night clubs. Data show that that’s where a lot of the spread these days is coming from. Young people out partying. Teams with athletes sticking to the guidelines set down when they returned from he shutdown will have fewer players in quarantine and will probably be better prepared for the start of workouts in July and August. Teams with players that don’t might find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. But of course that’s not the real reason why these guidelines should be followed. The fewer players that get infected, even if they don’t get sick, the less chance they have of infecting people in the general public. People that do get sick.
Q. DeltaBoy asks: Are you excited about this Season? I am excited about seeing Franks at QT
A. Absolutely. Tera as you know I went out to the Bella Vista Country Club on Saturday to cover the final round of the Women’s All Pro Tour tournament there. Former Arkansas and now LPGA tour member Maria Fassi lead wire to wire and won the event. I followed her pretty much the entire round. It was the first real sports competition I’ve covered since the last Razorback baseball game was played back on March 11th. That’s almost 4 months. Man was that fun. Hopefully we’re a little over two months away form the start of Razorback Football. I’m hoping to get some kind of a look at Feleipe Franks before that. Maybe they’ll let some of us in the media go to a few of the practices which start next month. If not maybe August camp.
Q; MJ2 wants to know: In your opinion why did Chad Morris fail so badly?
A. We get some version of this question almost every week. The answers is always the same. It started with his two coordinators who both failed miserably. Joe Craddock couldn’t teach his offense. John Chavis went from being an attacking defensive coordinator to putting a very passive defense on the field. As time goes by and I more and more from people who knew Morris, they think he was never comfortable in Arkansas. His family never lived here except for a daughter who was going to school at the university. This is what you get when you don’t have a real AD hiring coaches.
Q. Kdogstew2u asks: Can Arkansas begin setting up 2021- 2022 recruits with financial deals based on their likeness? I don’t hear any explanations of when schools will begin taking advantage of that policy so maybe it’s not “in use” at this time? As a follow up will a school like Arkansas be helped or hurt by the new rule?
A: I’m pretty sure there will be some strict rules against making deals with recruits. This would come after an athlete has become a big name at a specific school. He would have to be a proven marketable product. It might be the sophomore year before something would be set up. Whats more likely in recruiting is coaches telling a recruit, our current running back, quarterback, receiver made this much last year. Just give them an idea of what is possible. Yes, I think Arkansas would be in a good position when all the major companies here in the state. But I still say this plan is gonna blow up in the long run. You can’t have one or two guys on a football or basketball team making big bucks off endorsements while their teammates get nothing. That’s gonna be trouble.
Q. LZH says: I’m curious as to what Razorback head coaches that you’ve covered really worked the ‘good cop/bad cop’ routine and was very effective with it?….or maybe it was coordinators or other assistants. I enjoy these types of stories and am quite sure you have some that stand out.
A. I’ve heard stories about Wilson Matthews playing both parts. He’s run a kid into the ground after practice and then tell ’em he loved ’em afterward. There was one story when where one the the players from the 60’s…can remember who….was so exhausted that he was sitting on the floor in the showers long after his teammates had dressed and left. Finally Matthews stuck his head around the corner and said something like, You know Ole Wilson wouldn’t take the time to even fool with you if he didn’t love you and think you could be a great football player. See you tomorrow. Supposedly the kid went on to become a great player.
The coach I’ve covered who did the good cop, bad cop thing was Nolan. He’d climb all of his guys. Mike Anderson would come back and smooth it all over after Nolan had left. It must have worked because we all know what happened during those years.
Q. Iwastherein1969 wants to know: Do you view Coach Pittman’s walks with DC Barry Odom as more of a nervous reaction to being a head coach for the first time in your career at a place like the UA, or is CSP picking the brain of a former SEC head coach to know what to expect or a combination of both.
A. It’s not a nervous reaction but there’s no question that they’ve covered a lot of situations in those walks. Mostly Odom telling Pittman, I did this as a head coach. I’d do something else I had to to do over again. Here are some of the lessons I learned. They also talk a lot about what do to with this team. Odom says Pittman is all ears but once he makes up his mind about something the discussion is over. You don’t keep pressing a point with him.
Q. EarlCampbellsHotLink asks: Will we win more than one conference game?
A. I think so. Missouri and Mississippi State both look winnable. Also Auburn lost a big chunk of its O-line. With Chad Morris on that staff and how these players feel about him there’s going to be a lot of motivation for that game.
Q. 1highhog wants to know: Do you think Treylon Burks will be used on special teams as a kickoff returner, a punt returner or not at all?
A. My gut instinct says not at all but it’s a really good question. Sam Pittman could well decide to risk it. If so I think it would be as a kickoff returner. But I’ve got an idea that they’ll come up with somebody we’re not thinking about right now.
Q. onebadrubi asks: Where do you think we need a first rounder the most?
A. If you’re talking about the immediate future as in this season I’d go with quarterback. We know that Rakeem Boyd has all the tools but if Feleipe Franks had the kind of season that made him a first rounder, we’re talking a big time season for the Hogs. Is that likely to happen? Of course not.
Now if we’re talking long term..in the future I’d still go with quarterback. You’re not going to be a first round draft choice at quarterback on a bad team.
Q. razorbackinthegrove wants to know: What are the odds on Isaiah Joe returning next season?
A. Good. He’s still got some time before the deadline to withdraw from the draft but the fact that he’s on campus with the other guys is a good sign, Also We’re not hearing any skuttlebutt but about Musselman going after other grad transfers. That’s a good sign too. The guys that follow these draft projections on message boards claim Joe’s stock has gone down lately. That could be because teams know he’s staying in school.