Jason Kersey/SEC Country
Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium

Arkansas House to vote on guns exemption Thursday for Razorbacks, others

Eric Bolin

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.

Our long national (state-tional?) nightmare may be coming to an end.

The Arkansas House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Thursday on SB 724, the so-called Exemption Bill.

Because, if you haven’t heard, as of right now concealed weapons will be allowed into collegiate sporting venues across the Natural State starting in 2018. Such venues include Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and Bud Walton Arena, two homes of the Razorbacks. SB 724 was written in response to HB 1249, the bill that allowed firearms in state buildings. The Senate response bill exempts sporting events from the provisions of the House bill.

Greg Leding is a state representative from Fayetteville. He is a Democrat in favor of the exemption. Beyond the tweet, however, very little is publicly available as to whether the bill is expected to pass through the House on Thursday. It’s unclear, even, when the vote for the exemption would take place. Governor Asa Hutchinson has previously said if an exemption for sporting events crossed his desk, he would sign it.

Arkansas football players spoke about their level of comfort with HB 1249 on Tuesday, the first day of spring practice. None of the five players I spoke with thought firearms in the stands among spectators was a good idea. They called the notion “weird,” “panicked,” and “uncomfortable,” among other adjectives.

SEC Country will cover the vote when it happens.

Chain pullin’?

So, coach Bret Bielema made a wave Wednesday.

During Sports Talk with Bo, a syndicated sports radio show across Arkansas, Bielema told Bo Mattingly, the host, he was considering playing center Frank Ragnow on the defensive side of the ball.

Why? Ragnow could fit well in the team’s new 3-4 defensive formation.

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Could Frank Ragnow be playing both sides of the ball next season? (Jason Kersey/SEC Country)

Bielema has been known to have some fun with the media over the years. Sometimes purposeful. Sometimes not. Given his interview with Mattingly took place on the radio — no chance for non-verbal cues — it’s hard to say whether he was completely serious, half-serious or just messing around. My vote is for the middle.

Ragnow on defense is an intriguing, albeit terrible idea. The Arkansas senior is coming off a season when he was named best offensive lineman in college football by Pro Football Focus. Not best center. Best offensive lineman. On a team with a pretty mediocre offensive line. Imagine if Ragnow was hurt stuffing the run against Texas Christian or something. Whew.

Don’t count on the suggestion coming to fruition. Unless, of course, the Razorbacks look terrible in the middle; in which case, never say never.

The new breed of wideouts

Quick, name Arkansas’ second-most-experienced receiver after Jared Cornelius.

You’re pardoned. The Razorbacks only have two other players who have even caught a ball — sophomores La’Michael Pettway and Deon Stewart. Accordingly, quarterback Austin Allen has to develop new relationships with his targets this spring. It’s one of the most important things to watch, frankly.

Allen said he likes what he’s seen so far from a pair of his new guys. Junior college transfers Brandon Martin and Jonathan Nance are both expected to fit into the rotation come the fall. Both wide receivers come from Mississippi Gulf Coast. Martin was the top wide receiver JUCO recruit in the country. He’s a bigger, prototypical No. 1 type. Nance is a smaller, slot type.

Arkansas wide receiver Jared Cornelius (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Potential wide receiver depth chart come first open scrimmage:

  • WR1 — Brandon Martin, La’Michael Pettway
  • WR2 — Jared Cornelius, Jordan Jones
  • WR3 (slot) — Jonathan Nance, TJ Hammonds/Deon Stewart

Arkansas is the fourth-best SEC basketball program in modern era

That is according to the Associated Press.

The AP (full disclosure: my former employer) released its list of the top 100 college basketball programs of all time on Thursday. Arkansas checked in at 31st. Florida (T27), Alabama (29) and Missouri (30) — all three SEC schools as well — checked in just immediately in front of the Razorbacks.

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Former Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The list was established by the following criteria:

To determine the all-time top 100, the AP formula counted poll appearances (one point each) to mark consistency and No. 1 rankings (two points each) to acknowledge elite programs. Keep in mind that AP doesn’t release a poll after the NCAA Tournament, so eventual national champions are not factored into these rankings. Instead, this list focuses more on those programs that consistently appear in the poll and/or at the top during the regular seasons.

So, it’s wholly objective, but not necessarily the best possible, in my opinion, way to compile such rankings. Fun exercise, though, and I highly recommend the full list. Some whoppers on there.

ICYMI

Arkansas baseball assistant coach Tony Vitello’s father and sister were involved in a life-threatening car wreck over the weekend. The wrecked required the Jaws of Life, and Vitello had to leave one of the Diamond Hogs’ games against Missouri to tend to his family. WholeHogSports has the details.

Baum Stadium’s “Bark in the Park” will make its return Tuesday, April 4. The event, which welcomes spectators’ dogs, is always a fan favorite.

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