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Arkansas coach Bret Bielema

Second straight day ESPN digs at Arkansas, predicts Hogs football for 6 wins

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.

So, I have to start this Breakfast the same way I did Wednesday, with an addendum:

Full disclosure: I’m a former ESPN employee. A two-time ESPN employee, actually. Take that for what it’s worth. And the addendum: I was actually a part of the team that developed the Football Power Index, and I have former colleagues and current friends who help maintain it now.

ESPN’s Football Power Index isn’t exactly a friend to the Razorbacks. They are, based off the FPI numbers, expected to be among the worst teams in the SEC West next season. Maybe even the worst.

Now, the FPI’s aim is stated as such:

“The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily.”

It is 100 percent a data-driven analysis tool. No “eye test” stuff. No inherent bias. Of course, the season hasn’t begun yet so the data being used in the offseason is data from previous seasons. I’m sure my buddies up at the Worldwide Leader in Sports have some algorithm that includes roster additions/newcomers and the like, but those are projections. Nothing based off concrete evidence.

That isn’t to say FPI is bad. Far from it, really. Having known a little of the meat and potatoes that goes into the index, I’m actually rather fond of it. Proud, even, considering the extremely small role I played in its development.

And I don’t, honestly, see it as some ESPN conspiracy against Arkansas (Although, between this and Joe Lunardi’s too-early bracketology on Wednesday, it’s been a rough week for Hogs.). I don’t even think it’s all that far off the mark.

ESPN’s spring Football Power Index No. 30-38

Arkansas is, per FPI, expected to finish 6-6. Based off those simulations, Arkansas finished with an average of 6.1 wins and an average of 5.9 losses. Rounding is fun. What it means is the likelihood of the Razorbacks finishing with six wins is quite high. Relatively.

Ole Miss, on the other hand, is actually ranked lower in the FPI, as you can see in the screenshot. But Ole Miss’ win-total upside is higher at 6.4. A greater chance the Rebels will finish with more than six wins than Arkansas.

FPI doesn’t differentiate between in-conference wins and nonconference victories and these could change over the summer. But it’s a decent snapshot of how Arkansas is being treated nationally.

Little expectation, though, means the Razorbacks could, in theory, shock the (college football) world.

Baseball ‘bracketology’ has Diamond Hogs hosting

Always take NCAA Tournament projections with a grain of salt. Basketball or baseball, doesn’t matter. The ones at this time of the season — less than halfway through conference play — are even more side-eye worthy.

But they’re still fun. And they’re especially fun right now if you’re an Arkansas fan.

Baseball America released its first batch of NCAA Tournament projections on Wednesday. Authors Teddy Cahill and Michael Lananna have the Diamond Hogs pegged as a regional host. That’s right. Postseason baseball is predicted to return to Baum Stadium in 2017.

As of right now. April 6. With half a season left to play:

arkansas-baseball-ncaa tournament-regional
Arkansas is predicted by Baseball America to host an NCAA Tournament regional.

In fairness, Cahill and Lananna admit in the first paragraph the seedings will change a lot in the coming weeks. At this moment, though, it’s fun to think about the possibilities. I mean, Arkansas finished in last place in the SEC last season and are now figuring as a potential regional host.

Mind-blowing. Dave Van Horn, man.

LSU trying to poach Hogs recruit

When high school football coaches in New Orleans began to boycott LSU from recruiting their schools this past year, Arkansas hopped into the fold quickly.

Make no mistake, even though Arkansas-LSU isn’t *the* rivalry (Hi, Missouri) for the Razorbacks anymore, no love is lost. Arkansas folks don’t care for Tigers folks. And now, after Wednesday, they have another reason to dislike them.

Turnabout is fair play. If Michael Smith, Arkansas’ wide receivers coach, who is an ace recruiter, is going to take advantage in NOLA, don’t think LSU is afraid to go after Hogs commits.

The whole idea of thieving commits is weird to me. I get it. It’s business. But it feels like trying to after somebody’s man/woman right under their nose. Shady.

Speaking of LSU hate

Carson Shaddy, Arkansas’ second baseman, was asked about the Diamond Hogs’ matchup with LSU this weekend after the Grand Canyon sweep on Wednesday.

Short and sweet.

Find a way to get to Baum Stadium. Just do it. This is gonna be a boatload of fun.

Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas

OK, I’m from Oklahoma, which, to both the Sooner State’s and Natural State’s dismay, I’m sure, is awfully comparable to Arkansas. So, I can say this would be a thing where I’m from, too.

But I still, personally, find it hilarious this was something the state’s largest newspaper felt the need to write a story about:

Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez ate at a Little Rock steakhouse this week.

That’s it. That’s the story. US Weekly on line 1.

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