Just as Razorback football fans were absorbing the news that starting safety Joe Foucha had entered the transfer portal after recording six tackles, a sack and an interception in Arkansas’ Outback Bowl win over Penn State, the hammer fell again. Cornerback Greg Brooks Jr., who also had a pick in the game, added his name to a list of 15 Razorbacks so far who have entered the portal.
Foucha was a senior this past season, and until his announcement, the only question about his future seemed to be whether or not he would declare for the NFL draft. His decision set off alarms in the minds of some fans.
Brooks will be a junior in the 2022 season but has two years of eligibility if he wants it.
Since both players are from Louisiana some Hogs fan on social media believe that LSU was involved in their decisions. Did the new coaching staff in Baton Rouge offer the pair NIL deals that they couldn’t turn down?
Another internet theory, one that actually appears to have merit, involves Arkansas cornerbacks coach Sam Carter. Carter, the story goes, is difficult play for, tearing into players coming off the field for mistakes made during games. Maybe he needs to be replaced by a position coach more to their liking, the Internet crowd suggests.
One obvious fact strikes me when discussing this, “the coach is too mean” theory. Carter works side-by-side with defensive coordinator Barry Odom. If Carter was a problem Odom would certainly know about it and do something about it.
The rumor mill theorists have an answer for that too. Odom is considering leaving for Oklahoma (or some other school) after watching half his starting secondary hit the portal.
It’s extremely hard for me to accept any of this. Not that Carter isn’t a demanding, in-your-face coach. From what I’ve seen clearly he is that. But I find myself wondering why these players would prefer their previous secondary coaches. Have they already dismissed how this nine-win season came about?
Maybe they should pick up the phone and call some of Alabama’s defensive backs. Ask them if Nick Saban fills his staff with sensitive “players coaches.”
Maybe somebody should explain it to them. Saban wins national championships because he signs five-star players and holds their feet to the fire in every practice and during every game.
Frankly any Razorback fan who would like to see Carter replaced because he’s too tough on his cornerbacks needs to study the game more. Check out what players who actually win conference championships say about their position coaches.
Finally linebacker Andrew Parker, who was in good position to become a starter, is also rumored to be entering the portal and there’s been no chatter that Michael Scherer is a meanie. Players hit the portal for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons make sense. Some don’t.
As for the panic over alleged NIL tampering, I’m told that’s not the issue with any of these transfers. Keep in mind that Sam Pittman has had very good success so far using the portal and there’s no reason to suggest that he’s suddenly losing his edge because other schools are offering much better NIL opportunities.
Imagine the panic if these same fans woke up tomorrow morning only to learn that their quarterback was transferring back to his home state of Mississippi based on NIL money?
Not happening. Jefferson is a committed Razorback.
What about the Hogs three returning running backs? Each will return knowing full well that they will continue to share playing time. As a fan do you want young men in this program who stick with the team because they are not interested in any school but Arkansas? Or would you prefer that the coaching staff try to retain guys who are looking for reasons to transfer?
When the dust settles on signing day we will see how of this plays out. Back in mid December Pittman predicted that several players would hit the portal after the bowl game. Why would we assume that he doesn’t have a plan to replace them even if he’s had a two or three surprises thrown at him?
That’s not the Sam Pitman I know.