Arkansas/Colorado State ain’t sexy, but it’s winnable and that matters
With your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points. There is no place like it on the Web.
The best thing about Arkansas announcing Colorado State as its home-and-home opponent in 2018 and 2019 was the jokes that came with it. The worst part about Arkansas announcing Colorado State as its home-and-home opponent in 2018 and 2019 was pretty much everything else.
Maybe because it’s March and lots of people are in football withdrawal. Perhaps that’s why so many were excited when coach Bret Bielema said Arkansas was on the verge of announcing a marquee series. Speculation ran rampant. I took a stab about it in the Wednesday edition of Breakfast. But I also warned it wouldn’t be all that exciting.
Lo and behold, it isn’t. Colorado State isn’t sexy. Colorado State isn’t even very good. The Mountain West used to be the best of the non-BCS conferences, when that was still a thing, but defections have left it a shell of its former shell.
A trip to Colorado is wonderful, though, for those of us lucky enough to head out there (hint, hint, SEC Country brass). Just, uh, well, just be careful when you’re out there.
— Todd Rudisill (@RudiTodd) March 8, 2017
The announcement left a lot of people disappointed. The hope was, with the word “marquee” dropped, Arkansas would get a high-caliber opponent. The Razorbacks were replacing one of the most storied programs in college football history for this. Michigan had left Arkansas high and dry after canceling the home-and-home for ’18 and ’19 when Notre Dame became available. Arkansas was left in a lurch and had to scramble. Colorado State was what resulted.
But if you’re the disappointed type, let me tell you why you won’t be:
Arkansas is better than Colorado State.
The Razorbacks almost certainly will remain better than the Rams over the course of the next two or three seasons. The catch with getting one of those truly elite teams as a replacement for Michigan would have meant Arkansas was getting, well, a truly elite team. College football isn’t college basketball. Arkansas doesn’t need to bolster its resume with difficult nonconference games. Arkansas needs wins. It gets enough difficult games through the SEC schedule, so many in league play alone would get the Razorbacks to the College Football Playoff if they came out unscathed.
So, yeah, as unspectacular as Colorado State may sound, it’s really the perfect opponent. Nice locale. Beatable team. Take it.
Oh, hi, Jacorey
Jacorey Williams spent three years on the Arkansas basketball team. Almost no one remembers him for his play but instead his connection to alleged assaults, including one against a woman, a shoe-throwing incident. And, of course, who could forget the arrest on forgery charges?
Coach Mike Anderson ultimately had to cut bait with Williams in 2015. The ex-Razorbacks forward landed on his feet just fine, though.
Williams was named Conference USA Player of the Year on Wednesday. He averaged 17.5 points and 7.4 rebounds a game this season for Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders are just as nearly locks for the NCAA Tournament as Arkansas, too, after finishing 27-4 and winning CUSA’s regular-season title.
Imagine what he could have done for Arkansas this season.
Note: Yes, I realize he might have been out of eligibility had he stayed. But I maintain the possibility Anderson might have redshirted Williams in the 2015-16 season (see: Mixon, Joe) to avoid having to suspend him for the forgery charge and alleged assault. Would have made him eligible this season.
Murph or Tacco?
Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn will have to make a decision soon.
The Diamond Hogs are in need of a third weekend starter. With SEC play beginning in one more weekend, Van Horn has tried two players (Kevin Kopps and Josh Alberius) there already. Neither especially stood out.
Against Louisiana-Monroe this week, he might have seen more positive results. Senior Dominic Taccolini and sophomore Kacey Murphy had stellar performances against the WarHawks. Taccolini struck out 10 in 6 innings and Murphy 9 in 5. Taccolini is the experienced one, having been a weekend starter each of the last two seasons. But moving him from the bullpen leaves the back end of games with more questions.
Granted, it’s not certain either will ultimately win the gig. It’s not certain anyone will. Van Horn could continue to spot-start the Sunday games. Or maybe even the Saturday ones. It was a pretty bad ULM team Arkansas dominated Tuesday and Wednesday, after all.
But with Mississippi State — the team current Arkansas pitching coach Wes Johnson coached last season — looming, gut-check time is coming soon.
Me? I’d go Taccolini.
State of the Hogs – Football
It depends on who you ask, but the level of faith in Bret Bielema and the Arkansas football team varies across the fan base. Most, it seems, think Arkansas is on the right track. But taking the fandom out of it, our Jason Kersey tried to take an analytical look at the state of the football program with his piece Wednesday. It’s worth a read.
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
First things first: Don’t drink and drive.
Now that that’s out of the way, if you’re pulled over by the cops and they suspect you’ve been drinking and driving, you’ll never find a better way to convince them you haven’t than this guy.
— AR Democrat-Gazette (@ArkansasOnline) March 9, 2017
The video raises so many questions. Not the least of which is why is the dude carrying around juggling pins in his car at, presumably, such a late hour?
You be you, man. Wicked cool.