Trent Shadid/SEC Country
Arkansas coach Chad Morris is winning over the fan base early in his Arkansas coaching career.

One thing Chad Morris has to do to stay ahead of Bret Bielema (Hint: It isn’t just ‘win’)

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.

If you thought the answer to the the question posed in the headline was simply “win more games,” you are going to be disappointed. Winning more games will help up to a point, definitely. But only up to that point. Bret Bielema won games at a steady, if unspectacular clip, and a 14-game dip in quality was all it took for the masses to turn on him.

Chad Morris needs to win games, yes. Losing them will immediately put him on the bad side of the state. More importantly, if Morris fails to win games — or doesn’t win them at a pace acceptable under his predecessor — he better be likable. Right now, so far, so good.

Morris is winning over new fans every day. His personality and attitude are built for the South. When he was first hired, the comparison was made that he was a cross between a Burt Reynolds character and a preacher. Nothing he’s done over the last two months has changed that. Those sort of traits are surefire ways to ultimately win the hearts of the naysayers.

If this seems an odd topic to bring up today, look at the videos below. Or, even more, read the Question of the Day. The wonder, and it’s common, is if Morris can fix what Bielema (supposedly) broke. Thing is, Bielema didn’t break anything. He had a run of bad luck that was exacerbated by his personality.

Morris, however, is the anti-Bielema. He’s folksy and engaging, not sarcastic and engaging. Morris is self-deprecating and a disciplinarian, not self-mocking and a player’s coach. Part of it is putting on the best possible face for a new job. Lots of it is reality. Morris knows what he’s doing in more ways than one.

He’s winning over Arkansas.

Basketball picks up a must-win

Don’t kid yourself. Arkansas could not afford to lose to Ole Miss on Tuesday night. Thankfully for Razorbacks fans, the Hogs didn’t.

Arkansas won its third straight game overall and rose above .500 in SEC play for the first time this season with an 11-point win against the Rebels. Solid, handy win, even if it wasn’t sexy. And, boy, was it important.

The Razorbacks’ are a projected No. 10 seed in ESPN’s bracketology. No viable projection has Arkansas, as of Tuesday night, higher than an 8 seed. Most are at 10. That means the margin for error is small. Mike Anderson’s bunch needed that win over Ole Miss, especially given what’s coming.

Texas A&M is next. The Aggies beat Arkansas earlier this season and handily.

Kentucky follows that game. At Bud Walton Arena, but it’s Kentucky. Arkansas doesn’t exactly have the best track record against the Wildcats.

After that, it’s Alabama on the road, Auburn at home and Missouri on the road. Road games at teams higher in the standings and a home game against the top team in the conference. Goodness.

So, yeah, Ole Miss was must-win.

ICYMI

  • Always a fun thing to check out: Arkansas baseball players have made public their walk-on/walk-out songs for this season. Short on irony, unfortunately, although there are a couple.
  • The swimming and diving teams is headed to College Station, Texas, for the SEC championships. The meet starts Wednesday and ends Sunday.
  • Maleek Barkley was recruited by Bielema to be a wide receiver. Morris and the new staff are turning him into a running back. Rather, they’re turning him back into a running back.
  • Arkansas women’s golf, ranked No. 4 in the nation, won the individual and team titles at the 2018 Lady Puerto Rico Classic in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday. Maria Fassi took home the individual honors.

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Tweets and the like

• They’re getting after it over at the indoor facility. You can tell by the video.

• Has it really been three years since “Benny Baseball” amazed us all in a Diamond Hogs uniform? Only a couple days away now.

• Club sports do not get the funding NCAA sports do. Your Arkansas hockey team — the SEC champs — could use a little help.

arkansas-arkansas hockey

• If you thought three years ago was awhile, how about 39 years ago? The conversation about greatest Arkansas basketball player in history holds two people: Corliss Williamson and this man: