Yes, Arkansas, there is a Santa Claus.
Metaphorically. He’s a man who brings all the good men and women of Razorback country gifts around Christmas time. He’s big, has a bit of a belly — though not like a bowl full of jelly. He wears red a lot. Some white, too. He’s friendly to all. No beard, though.
Has anyone ever seen Santa and Bret Bielema together? Didn’t think so.
Bielema’s tenure at Arkansas has been a blessing. The Razorbacks are just 10 days away from playing in their third straight bowl game and, with a win against Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl on December 29, Arkansas can win its third straight postseason game for the first time in school history.
Every year Bielema has been at Arkansas has been a little better than the one before. It could be argued perhaps 2016 wasn’t as good as 2015, but I submit Arkansas wasn’t nearly as talented this season as it was last. Given the Razorbacks had a first-year quarterback and, ostensibly, two first-year running backs and still produced the offense they did, that’s impressive.
Bielema is underappreciated in Arkansas. No, he isn’t perfect. But Arkansas is doing things with a consistency it never has, producing winning seasons at such a clip. The next step, obviously, is increasing those number of wins every year.
Make no mistake, this isn’t a “Bielema rules and you should appreciate what you have” piece. But the man is a good coach, one of the better ones in the SEC. And this is regardless of what happens next week against the Hokies. In fact, that game has very little overall impact on what Bielema has been doing in Fayetteville.
All this is said as something of a warning. Arkansas may take a step back next year. May. The Razorbacks have so many unknowns in 2017, it’s hard to tell, but it appears next year’s team won’t be quite as good as this year’s. Not on paper, anyway.
But if anyone can continue the upswing, the likes of which Arkansas hasn’t seen in ages, it’s gotta be Bielema.
Road wins are the best wins
Something funny happened in Houston over the weekend. Funny strange. Not funny “ha-ha.”
Arkansas’ basketball team now is 1-1 on the road this year after beating old rival Texas on Saturday afternoon, 77-74. The Razorbacks, for all intents and purposes, are doing exactly what they need to this nonconference season. A win against Minnesota in November would have quieted some of the noise, but that grousing is mostly been relegated to the back burner after Arkansas beat the Longhorns.
The Razorbacks now own the No. 27 RPI in the country. And one team ahead of them, Texas-Arlington, the Razorbacks have already beaten. A few more nonconference games against “lesser” teams will drag it down a touch before SEC play begins in a little over a week with Florida, though a win there would certainly keep spirits high.
Bottom line: Arkansas is a good team. It’s time the Razorbacks be recognized locally as such.
Here are the goods on Arkansas’ win against Texas from the weekend. Our Trent Shadid had it on lock.
Congrats are due to Bielema and his wife, Jen, as the couple announced they are expecting their first child. The coach is already quick with the jokes.
I’ve long been on this boat: Arkansas high school basketball is pretty good. Not even pretty good. Awfully good for a state its size. Rick Fires at Arkansas Democrat-Gazette agrees.
- Travis Swanson, Detroit center
- Denver Kirkland, Oakland offensive line
- Alex Collins, Seattle running back
No stats in a 24-3 win against the Rams.
- Knile Davis, Kansas City running back
- Trey Flowers, New England defensive end
2 sacks and 3 tackles in the Patriots’ 16-3 win against the Broncos.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 19, 2016
- Hunter Henry, San Diego tight end
3 catches for 37 yards and a touchdown, his seventh, in a 19-16 loss to the Raiders.
— Razorback Football (@RazorbackFB) December 18, 2016
- Darius Philon, San Diego defensive tackle
No stats in the loss to the Raiders.
- Ryan Mallett, Baltimore quarterback
No stats in the Ravens’ 27-26 win against the Eagles.
- Brett Goode, Green Bay long snapper
No stats in a 30-27 win against the Bears.
- Jason Peters, Philadelphia offensive line
Started for the Eagles in a 27-26 loss to the Ravens. Per usual, had some good words after:
"Ain’t nobody putting a whooping on us. We’re beating ourselves.”
– Jason Peters pic.twitter.com/MUmO1VZuOi
— Corner Pub Sports (@CornerPubSports) December 19, 2016
- AJ Derby, Denver tight end
4 catches for 45 yards in a loss to the Patriots.
- Chris Smith, Jacksonville defensive end
- Martrell Spaight, Washington linebacker
Redskins play Monday night.
- Robert Thomas, New York Giants defensive tackle
- Jonathan Williams, Buffalo running back
3 carries for 10 yards in a 33-13 win against the Browns.
- Jarius Wright, Minnesota wide receiver
1 catch for 2 yards in a 34-6 loss to the Colts.
- Brandon Allen, Jacksonville quarterback
- Sebastian Tretola, Tennessee offensive line
- Cobi Hamilton, Pittsburgh wide receiver
1 catch for 21 yards in a 24-20 win against the Bengals.
The Best TV Show Tournament continues
The non-football fun continues as I’m relying on y’all to pick the Greatest TV Show of All Time. So go vote in the Network Drama bracket.
- The West Wing vs. Monk
- Taxi vs. Modern Family
- Always Sunny in Philadelphia vs. Dick Van Dyke Show
- Cheers vs. The Practice
- Mary Tyler Moore Show vs. Golden Girls
- Friday Night Lights vs. Six Feet Under
- Arrested Development vs. House
- Breaking Bad vs. The Jeffersons
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
Liquor stores are not uncommon locations for robberies, but usually the people robbing them want the cash they hold.
This cat wanted the booze. Seven thousand dollars worth of booze, in fact, per the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Someone is throwing a massive party soon, methinks.