Trent Shadid/SEC Country
This was taken hours before Bret Bielema was fired.

Bret Bielema is back! In a way; these are Arkansas’ end-of-year awards

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.

Arkansas held its annual Hogspys on Monday night at Bud Walton Arena. The celebration/awards ceremony has been around several years now. The idea is a riff off ESPN’s ESPYs (thus the name). The athletic department showcases all its sports at a big blowout. They load up. They party.

You can find winners at the Arkansas website. What’s more fun is our categories here at SEC Country. More telling and honest, anyway. They are as follows:

  • Non-revenue Women’s Team of the Year
  • Non-revenue Men’s Team of the Year
  • Revenue Team of the Year
  • Personnel Move of the Year
  • Player of the Year
  • Game of the Year
  • Moment of the Year

Without further ado, here we go.

Non-revenue Women’s Team of the Year

This is the first year of these awards but for the umpteenth straight year — if these existed for that long — this one would go to the women’s track team. Granted, the school year isn’t over, but it was named No. 1 team in the nation as recently as Monday.

Non-revenue Men’s Team of the Year

A bit more difficult than the other. For these purposes, by the way, revenue means both basketball teams, baseball and football.

The winner here isn’t even an NCAA-sanctioned team: Arkansas hockey. The Razorbacks’ Division III team made the national tournament and should have advanced to the final rounds, but a scoring quirk eliminated the Hogs in pool play. Go watch a game at the Jones Center next year.

Revenue Team of the Year

Football!

Just kidding. No chance.

Has to be baseball. The Diamond Hogs are ranked No. 3 in the nation and are in line to host the NCAA Tournament as long as they stay alive in it. Coach Dave Van Horn is a legend.

Personnel Move of the Year

Not the hiring of Chad Morris, believe it or not. Can’t, in good faith, give him the honor when he hasn’t even played a game yet. Can’t, also, give the “honor” to the fired Jeff Long and/or Bret Bielema.

This one goes to Nate Thompson. He’s in his first year as Van Horn’s lieutenant and because Arkansas baseball is doing what it’s doing. Had big shoes to fill with the exit of Tony Vitello (now coach at Tennessee) and so far, so good.

Player of the Year

Maria Fassi, women’s golf.

Admittedly, we don’t do a lot of golf around here. Good opportunity to pub Fassi, who has won five tournaments this year for the No. 3 team in the country.

Game of the Year

Senior night for gymnastics. Arkansas set a school record with a score of 197.300 in dispatching Denver and Iowa State, the 15th and 26th-ranked teams in the nation.

Moment of the Year

The firing of Bielema. We have been told it happened mere moments after he walked off the field after his football team’s loss to Missouri in the season finale. The next two weeks were an abject disaster.

State of Arkansas producing big-time quarterback talent

Lately, Arkansas starting quarterbacks have a Natural State vibe. From Tyler Wilson to Austin Allen, the last three full-time Razorbacks starting quarterbacks have all been Arkansas natives.

That may not change in 2018. Ty Storey, a junior from Charleston, received the most first-team reps this spring. Connor Noland, a 4-star recruit from Greenwood, looks like he may be the future. It’s a boon for the state, one that hasn’t been known to produce a ton of high-end talent in the last few generations.

Look at Arkansas quarterbacks before Wilson. Ryan Mallett was from the border town of Texarkana, but he went to school on the Texas side. Casey Dick and Robert Johnson were not Arkansas natives. Matt Jones was before them, though. Robbie Hampton and Clint Stoerner were not. The position isn’t one in which Arkansas natives generally have led.

Things have been different since Barry Lunney Jr., who is Arkansas’ tight ends coach, a Natural State native and former starting quarterback for the Hogs, came onboard. Perhaps that’s a coincidence, though. Perhaps not. He has stayed on staff through multiple coaches largely because of his connections at Arkansas high schools.

Such connections may yield Arkansas its next 2020 quarterback commit, too. Jacolby Criswell, from Morrilton, is a 4-star prospect and the half-brother of Arkansas linebacker Dre Greenlaw.

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ICYMI

Tweets and the like

• Jared Cornelius is a wide receiver, a real DJ and, apparently, the owner of some photos on Arkansas’ Instagram. He was the photog for the Hogspys.

• Interesting statistical tidbit about Arkansas closer Matt Cronin here:

• Arkansas women’s track and field appears to be the team to beat at nationals this year.

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