Zero times have I heard a chant of “S-E-C, S-E-C” this season. Not in football. Not in basketball. Arkansas fans are more prone to calling the Hogs, anyway, but the chant has made its way through Fayetteville a time or two in the past.
Ben Kercheval at CBS Sports has a theory about it: The SEC is only the fourth-best conference in the country this year.
And you know what, I’m not totally sure he’s wrong.
Kercheval uses an algorithm, which is something I could not do, to compute his facts. Ultimately, the figures show the Big Ten as the best (obviously), the PAC-12 as second and the ACC as third. The SEC was dragged down, he says, by the lowly play of the SEC East. Of course, Florida beating LSU doesn’t look good for the West. Auburn falling against Georgia doesn’t help, either. Arkansas losing to cellar-dweller Missouri leaves a bad taste, too, clearly.
Yes, the West is clearly better than the East, but there a few too many pickoffs of the better teams in the Western Division.
Look at the bowl point spreads. Las Vegas has only LSU (versus Louisville), Alabama (vs. Washington), Florida (vs. Iowa), Texas A&M (vs. Kansas State) and Tennessee (vs. Nebraska) as favorites against schools from various other Power 5 conferences. All of those teams, except Alabama, have edges so close— three points or fewer — that the lines could flip to the opposition and no one would bat an eye.
That does not a powerful league make.
The SEC isn’t bad. It isn’t even mediocre. The teams are all, on a whole, still pretty decent. But Kercheval’s argument that three leagues are better isn’t as far-fetched as it would have been pretty much any other year this millennium.
Resident good, bad boy
Drew Morgan, man. That dude. Sometimes he defies explanation.
Morgan, Arkansas’ senior wide receiver, was given the inaugural Bequette Award for Media Cooperation on Wednesday because of his, well, cooperation with the media. He was the winner by a grand margin, too.
Morgan plays with a chip on his shoulder. He talks with a chip on his shoulder. The guy knows when to give stock answers and when to shoot the stuff with reporters. He’s always good for a story, too, whether it’s about his little brother’s tattoos, his juice, his man bun, whatever. Morgan can talk.
He’s even a bit cocky. Maybe not even a bit. Coach Bret Bielema often chuckles to himself when asked about Morgan’s attitude. Morgan wants to be the best player on the field and sometimes thinks he is. And that’s fantastic. It may be a character flaw at times, but in football, that’s who coaches want.
The kid I saw play in the state championship game at Greenwood four years ago, the one with no Arkansas offer and bound for Arkansas State, he’s turned himself into a potential NFL player. And he’s done it without great size or speed. He’s done it with an ever-present “I can do this and you’re not going to stop me” attitude.
But on the flip side, the man can be humble.
“I wanted to say ‘thank you’ because I have a lot of really good relationships with people in here. I know the time and effort that you guys put into your job,” Morgan said. “I just graduated with a business marketing degree and I have written a lot of papers, but none of them compare to what you guys write. You get these little bitty quotes and turn them into like a huge bible of a book. It’s impressive. I don’t think people really appreciate it and grasp ahold of what you guys do. I have a lot of appreciation and am very thankful to get the first Bequette Award.”
Nice to see not everyone hates us.
Thanks, Drew. I, for one, am going to miss him. At least we have Dusty Hannahs and Daryl Macon with similar traits in basketball.
Help is on the way
A starting tight end and a likely starting wide receiver on the 2017 team have staked their Arkansas claim.
The Razorbacks picked up three notes of good news Wednesday when junior college transfers Jeremy Patton (tight end) and Jonathan Nance (wide receiver) signed. Another JUCO wide receiver, Brandon Martin, said Wednesday he will sign later today. Nance and Martin played together and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where Nance had the better numbers last season, but Martin is rated the No. 2 JUCO wide receiver in the country.
Patton slides perfectly into the role vacated by Jeremy Sprinkle next season as Sprinkle’s eligibility runs complete. He’s a receiver more than a blocker, though he can do that, too, and next to a year-older, year-wiser Austin Cantrell, there may not be much of a letdown at tight end.
Martin — and Nance — will get a shot to play quickly, too, as Arkansas returns only Jared Cornelius with any experience in the wide receiving corps. Cornelius could theoretically turn his eyes to the NFL early, too, which would make any additions at wideout even more important.
Frank Ragnow spoke openly Wednesday about his emotional season and the possibility he might leave Arkansas early for the NFL. Our Trent Shadid has the details.
Four high school recruits signed financial aid letters Wednesday, paving the way for them to make it to campus in January to help Arkansas sooner rather than later.
So, Forbes Magazine, eh? The money magazine is rather impressed with the facilities at the University of Arkansas. That’s pretty high praise.
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
No story here. Just this awkward tweet:
— AR Democrat-Gazette (@ArkansasOnline) December 14, 2016