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Arkansas linebacker Dre Greenlaw's father is the Arkansas State defensive line coach.

Arkansas’ refusal to play Arkansas State is asinine and should be criticized

Eric Bolin

Arkansas football rules the world of Razorbacks sports. So, with your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast and get caught up. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas … especially Arkansas football. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points! There is no place like it on the web.

One of the dumbest things in college football is the University of Arkansas’ refusal to play Arkansas State. The fear is, one supposes, the Razorbacks have nothing to gain by playing the game.

Right. OK.

Oklahoma has nothing to gain by playing Tulsa.

Texas needn’t play Rice or Texas-El Paso.

LSU has played Lafayette (I’m sorry, “Louisiana”), Monroe and Northwestern State all in the past 10 years.

So on and so forth.

Arkansas ducks Arkansas State. So, on the rare occasions, like this season, the Red Wolves field the seemingly superior football team, they should absolutely take every shot they can at Arkansas.

That’s exactly what Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson did Monday. Basically, the long and the short of it, is he called Razorbacks fans losers.

It was a joke. Literally. Not one of those “I said something offensive, so now I’m claiming it was a joke” things. It was an actual joke. The setup was lengthy, so it isn’t worth repeating in text here, but if you want to see and hear it, it’s at the bottom of the page. No one took it seriously, thankfully. Though, I do wonder if Arkansas were 4-3 or whatever and the joke was made, fans would be livid and there would be calls of envy and all that.

Mostly, the joke doesn’t matter. It won’t matter until Arkansas gains some security and self-esteem in itself, realizes the state won’t melt down if it loses and the balance of power won’t actually shift to the northeast part of the state.

But none of that will happen.

As if things couldn’t get any worse for Arkansas

The best player on the team is now out for the season.

All-American center Frank Ragnow is done for his career with the Razorbacks. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema fought back tears when he announced Ragnow had a high-ankle sprain and would have a 12-week recovery period. Ragnow was a four-year starter at guard and center, with an occasional tackle duty. Pro Football Focus called him the best center in the nation last year as a junior.

Ragnow is not the only player out for a significant period, either. Freshman running back Chase Hayden will miss at least four weeks with a lower-leg injury, as well. Hayden had been the big-play back among Arkansas’ three-man unit this season.

The loss of those two, combined with the still questionable status of starting quarterback Austin Allen, and the Razorbacks may have more trouble than ever against Ole Miss on Saturday.

What saves Bret Bielema at Arkansas?

He is not out of a job yet. He very well might not be at year’s end. Stranger things have happened.

Really. They have.

Ole Miss is not very good. Coastal Carolina is a win. Missouri is not very good. Say, for example, Arkansas wins those three games. Only one more win is required to make this a 6-6 season, at worst.

Now, those odds are long. Supremely long. But you have to wonder, would athletic director Jeff Long keep Bielema if Arkansas went 6-6? It’d be a 4-1 finish, a fourth straight bowl and with one of the better recruiting classes coming, there are reasons to retain him.

One national writer, however, thinks it would not be enough. Even if Arkansas goes 4-1 the rest of the way, Tom Fornelli thinks Bielema is gone.

ICYMI

  • This is not an excuse for Arkansas’ season. Heck, it’s not even a reason. Told you Monday (and all summer) this was going to be a 2-5 team at this point. But, man, the Razorbacks have had some absolutely horrible luck with injuries in 2017.
  • Bielema had more to say than words about Ragnow’s and Hayden’s injuries at his weekly Monday press conference.
  • Things are so bad at Arkansas, the Razorbacks are relegated to the SEC Network alternate game next week against Coastal Carolina. Not ESPN, ESPN2 or CBS. Not even SEC Network. SEC Network alternate. Even Mississippi State/UMass received a better channel.
  • Paul Rhoads doesn’t like his defense’s energy. Clay Henry wrote that for WholeHogSports.

Tweets and the like

• Here is the Anderson joke, complete with context:

• In a far more important comment, Anderson had great and kind things to say about Bielema:

• Impressive beginnings for former Diamond Hogs corner infielder Eric Hinske’s coaching career. He’s the Angels’ new hitting coach. He’s only been retired for four seasons.

• Take note of this if you’re into going to coaches shows. There’s a new location for some of basketball coach Mike Anderson’s shows.

Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.