Complain about the direction Arkansas football is headed. Gripe that the Razorbacks are stuck treading water. Carp about the coach or athletic director or assistants or the marketing team.
Do not say Arkansas is a bad program.
Every single day it seems like some other program in college football faces some nasty-looking issue. Baylor is the most famous one this year. Now, it’s Minnesota.
No matter what your opinion on what is going on at Minnesota, every single one of us — myself included as a media member — should be glad it isn’t happening in Fayetteville.
In fact, it isn’t even close to happening. What’s been the biggest scandal in Bret Bielema’s tenure? A couple instances of underage drinking and driving have occurred. And those are terrible, dangerous offenses. I’m not even close to excusing them. On a curve, they’re not dissimilar to things taking place in other programs across the country.
For a lot of people, simply staying clean isn’t good enough. Understandable. Football is a game that requires wins in order for people to keep jobs. Bielema could graduate 100 percent of his players, but if he were winning four games a season, he’d be out of a job.
But that doesn’t mean that off-the-field stuff isn’t important and shouldn’t be taken into consideration for the coach’s future job status. Bielema has run a tight ship, as far as we know, and should be lauded for doing so.
Because Arkansas could always be Minnesota.
The next five
Bowl games are great and all, but good luck finding a coach who thinks the game is more important than the few weeks leading up to it.
The biggest reason coaches want to make a bowl — when they’re not in the hunt for a national championship, anyway — is because doing so adds several weeks to the season. More time to practice. And coaches will tell you, too, those practices can make a world of difference.
To a certain extent, I buy that. Younger players, especially, can use every practice they can get. Older ones, especially seniors, don’t need them so much anymore by that point of the season. And Bielema runs his as such: Some days the graduating or departing players get the day off, more or less. Bielema runs practices exclusively for developmental players on occasion.
With that in mind, here are five current roster members who stand to gain the most from these extra weeks of practice
Note: Class standing corresponds to what the player will be in 2017.
5. Deon Stewart, sophomore wide receiver — Stewart played regularly this year, but almost exclusively at kick returner, where he struggled. He’s on the small side and a slot receiver when he makes it offensively. But coaches have been high on him since his arrival. They’ll need him after losing four (at least) of their top five wideouts in 2017.
4. Dee Walker, redshirt freshman linebacker — The most talked about of the three linebackers in the 2016 recruiting class who redshirted. Walker may not be a starter off the bat, even with Arkansas’ move to a 3-4, but with a serious lack of depth at the position, he seems the one most likely to take the next step among the sophomore-or-younger backers.
3. Cheyenne O’Grady, sophomore tight end — O’Grady and Bielema were at odds several times this past year. The Fayetteville product was regularly in the coach’s doghouse. But his talent is so tantalizing, he’s hard to keep off the field. Even with Jeremy Patton coming in from junior college, O’Grady, with dedication in practice, will make a play for reps. Without such dedication? Yikes.
2. Briston Guidry, redshirt freshman defensive tackle — I wrote over the summer that Guidry was my favorite of the incoming group of freshmen and the most likely to make an impact first. Guidry wasn’t the second one as an injury limited him early, and the decision was made to redshirt him. But he can be a real player in a 3-4 scheme if he reaches his potential.
1. Hjalte Froholdt, junior offensive guard — Froholdt is my No. 1 by far. Arkansas and Bielema are going to ride this thing out. Froholdt had some serious issues early in the season, his first as an offensive lineman. He improved as the year went on and he’s gifted enough when he gets his paws on someone. He literally can use every single practice to improve. His improvement next year could be monumental.
A Texas chowdown
Arkansas versus Texas. Giddy-up.
The men’s basketball team (8-1) heads to Houston this weekend for a Saturday afternoon game with the Longhorns (5-4), those old rivals. When they meet, it will have been a week since either has played, so they’ll be plenty fresh.
And, boy, is there a lot on the line for a nonconference game.
Arkansas, troubled for years now by an inability to win tough games on the road, can put an end (at least some relief) to that with a win against a good and hated-by-the-fans team. More importantly, in what is clearly another year of SEC mediocrity in basketball through the heart of the conference, a win against a major conference school on the road is something that every other SEC team is having major difficulty realizing.
An Arkansas win against Texas would look dynamite on a résumé come March if the Razorbacks find themselves on the bubble with other SEC schools. So, while it isn’t a league game, it’s by far the most important of this young season.
This is the greatest TV show ever
OK, this is just for fun and has zero to do with Arkansas or football or Arkansas football. But it’s been a pet project I’ve had stewing over almost four years and I’ve finally gotten around to it.
My goal is to find out what is the best television show of all time. Using a very (read: not very) scientific formula, I’ve bracketed out 64 TV shows into a March Madness-style tournament. Four categories: classics, network dramas, network comedies and cable combined.
It’s your job to pick the winners in each “game.” Give it a whirl. If nothing else, you can look at it and gripe at me for leaving off your favorite.
For the record, here is a picture of the bracket:
- Arkansas landing 4-star JUCO wide receiver Brandon Martin is an even bigger deal than you think. And you already think it’s a big one. Our Trent Shadid has details.
- Dalton Wagner may be an Illinois high-schooler right now, but in a few weeks, he’ll be an Arkansas collegian. And it fits him perfectly, writes Jason Kersey.
- Arkansas coaches will see a bonus for making the Belk Bowl, writes Matt Jones over at WholeHogSports.
- Congrats to the basketball team’s Dusty Hannahs, the college grad.
When you are going miss graduation you have an impromptu ceremony at practice!
— Razorback Basketball (@RazorbackMBB) December 15, 2016