Over the summer, before I began working for SEC Country, I ranked all the SEC stadiums in terms of how raucous/enjoyable they are to be inside when a really good game is going on. In that ranking, I put Arkansas somewhat low. Only ninth in the SEC.
Now it sort of feels like I might have to re-rank after Saturday.
Arkansas-Alabama this weekend could be an absolute barn-burner. The game depends, of course, on which Arkansas team shows: the one that played TCU for three quarters and an overtime, or the one that showed up against Texas A&M in the second half or Louisiana Tech for large chunks. If the former happens, and not the latter, expect a crowd that hasn’t been as intense as they will be since the Razorbacks recorded their first SEC win in the Bret Bielema era two years ago. Remember? This one.
That was my first season covering Arkansas and I had a glimpse of what Donald W. Reynolds Stadium could be like. The Alabama game a few weeks earlier, one in which Arkansas ultimately fell by a single point, was a sign of things to come. Arkansas was a team on the rise.
Saturday provides the opportunity for a statement. For my rankings (more fun) and for this season (more real).
Eureka, it’s Bama and beating Alabama is a big, big deal
If you don’t get that sub-head, you haven’t been in Arklahoma very long. If you don’t know what Arklahoma is, you’re probably east of Little Rock. That’s OK.
The tagline is from Eureka Pizza advertisements from the late 1990s or so. The jingle remains a cultural touchstone around these parts. Eureka Pizza, for the uninitiated, is an Arkansas-based pizza pick-up restaurant. Think Little Caesars only local.
The founder of the chain, Rolf Wilkin, put his money/pizza where his mouth is on Monday. Wilkin said he said he will give away, gratis, 1,000 free pizzas when Arkansas beats Alabama on Friday.
— John Nabors (@TheForumJohn) October 3, 2016
Note the wording. When.
Generous move, even if you figure just $6 per pizza. Wilkin, an LSU grad, has been based in Arkansas since starting the company in the early 90s. He is now Hog through and through.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Bob Holt wrote a touching eulogy of sorts on former football player Bobby Burnett. Burnett scored the game-winning touchdown during Arkansas’ only football national championship in the 1964 season.
Arkansas freshman fullback Hayden Johnson was left off the depth chart for the Alabama game. Coach Bret Bielema said Johnson won’t start, but almost certainly will play after being arrested for public intoxication over the weekend, our Jason Kersey writes.
ArDarius Stewart, Alabama’s No. 2 wide receiver, still has his status up in the air for the game.
Saban: No real injury problems. ArDarius Stewart (knee) will practice. Team is hopeful he'll be able to play: https://t.co/LIknZmP25k
— Marq Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) October 3, 2016
Frank Ragnow posted a heartfelt message and photos on Instagram in remembrance his father, Jon, who died Saturday after Arkansas’ game against Alcorn State.
My thoughts are with Ragnow as he spends a few days back home in Minnesota in mourning.
Major League Baseball’s regular season came to an end Monday night and a few former Arkansas players saw their team clinch a postseason berth at the night’s conclusion.
Andrew Benintendi was the jewel of this year’s professional Diamond Hogs. He made his MLB debut in mid-summer and proceeded to put up Rookie of the Year type numbers the rest of the way. He is expected to be the Red Sox starting leftfielder when Boston plays Cleveland on Thursday.
New York Mets shortstop Matt Reynolds also saw his team clinch a postseason berth. Reynolds has just one hit since September 3 and, according to NJ.com, he is unlikely to be on the Mets postseason roster. The same holds for Dodgers pitcher Mike Bolsinger, who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since June 18.
This how all the MLB former Arkansas players did this regular season.
- Andrew Benintendi (Boston outfielder): .295 BA, .359 OBP, .476 SLG, 14 RBI in 105 AB
- Logan Forsythe (Tampa Bay second base): .264 BA, .333 OBP, .444 SLG, 20 HR in 511 AB
- Drew Smyly (Tampa Bay second base): 7-12, 4.88 ERA, 1.272 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 in 175 1/3 IP
- Dallas Keuchel (Houston pitcher): 9-12, 4.55 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, 7.7 K/9 in 168 IP
- James McCann (Detroit catcher): .221 BA, .272 OBP, .358 SLG, 48 RBI in 344 AB
- Blake Parker (New York Yankees pitcher): 1-0, 4.67 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 7.8 K/9 in 17 1/3 IP
- Matt Reynolds (New York Mets shortstop): .225 BA, .266 OBP, .416 SLG, 13 RBI in 89 AB
- Brett Eibner (Oakland outfielder): .193 BA, .266 OBP, .353 SLG, 22 RBI in 187 AB
- Mike Bolsinger (Los Angeles pitcher): 1-4, 6.83 ERA, 1.518 WHIP, 8.1 K/9 in 27 2/3 IP
- Craig Gentry (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim): .147 BA, .237 OBP, .176 SLG, 2 RBI in 34 AB
- Andy Wilkins (Milwaukee first base): .125 BA, .222 OBP, .292 SLG, 3 RBI in 24 AB
For the record…
It’s just my two cents, but these are the definitive SEC stadium rankings (of the ones I’ve been to, so really, really definitive).
The swamp remains the scariest place when the Gators are rocking.
Size does matter in Baton Rouge.
3. Texas A&M
The stadium shakes. It’s friggin’ awesome.
4. Mississippi State
So, so, so loud especially since the end zone has been somewhat enclosed.
The team makes it a horrifying venue for visitors.
Several years ago this would have been a top three. It might be again this season. It wasn’t last year when I last went.
Gorgeous campus. Gorgeous town. Solid stadium.
Jordan-Hare is hit and miss. Mostly hit.
Good sized. Beautiful views. Just a little too clean for my tastes
10. Ole Miss
My second favorite campus in the league, but the stadium is ordinary.
People hate it here. I get it. I don’t hate it, but I get it.
A concrete jungle. Gross.
Zero atmosphere. Nicer than Vanderbilt and Missouri, but no chills upon entering. No anything.
N/A. South Carolina
Dying to go here as I’ve heard nothing but good things. Soon, hopefully.
Note: These are assuming the most exciting possible game with a full house in attendance.
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
Uusally this section is reserved for embarrassing things about Arkansas. Not this time. Today’s is kind of cool. Still Arkansas.
A pumpkin farm near Piggott was named by the Travel Channel as one of the 10 best in the nation. It’s a bit out of the way for those of us in NWA, but, they, if you’re in extreme northeast Arkansas, stop by Pumpkin Hollow. Looks legit.