The Mothership’s “College Gameday” show is, unfortunately, not coming to Fayetteville this weekend for Arkansas versus Alabama. Instead, the flagship Saturday show will go to College Station, Texas, where Texas A&M hosts Tennessee.
The selection makes sense. Both teams are undefeated and Tennessee, which has just two truly difficult games left on its schedule, is a dark horse College Football Playoff contender, accordingly. But Saturday marks the third time Gameday has visited a Volunteers game this season, which has locals here calling foul.
ESPN was at the Tennessee-Virginia Tech game at Bristol Motor Speedway and again when the Volunteers played Florida two weeks later. It’s a bit much, even if Tennessee earned it with a ridiculous Hail Mary to beat Georgia last week. Arkansas senior shooting guard (and for my money, the best shooter in the nation) Dusty Hannahs was bummed.
That Hail Mary literally took Gameday from Fayetteville. That's weak
— Dusty Hannahs III (@D_Hannahs) October 2, 2016
Hannahs’ tweet was echoed by Arkansas fans across the state. We get it. Tennessee and Texas A&M looks fancy, but Arkansas-Alabama is big. It’s the first time in five years Donald W. Reynolds Stadium has had a matchup between two Top 25 teams.
Brendan Oman, a fan, was a little more pessimistic. He has been around for those last four seasons (plus some) and has seen enough bad luck with the Razorbacks.
Arkansas not getting Gameday because of a missed extra point in Tallahassee totally should have been expected.
— Brendan Oman (@BrendanOman) October 1, 2016
And then there is this take.
@CollegeGameDay why in the hell aren't y'all coming to Arkansas for college game day? Y'all always at a Tennessee game.
— Pawpaw Jaden (@JadenBell_) October 2, 2016
I have been in the room when the Gameday decisions are made and while I may bag on ESPN for some things it does, the place is fair. There is no Arkansas hatred. That said, there might be some Tennessee love, at least this year. But hey, that’s what happens when you’re that good. Arkansas is seeking to get there.
Look, no college football coach is perfect. They’ve all been known to shine folks on about injuries, suspensions and countless other things under the sun.
The good ones stand out from that pack. Plenty of good ones exist, but Bret Bielema is great at this. I’ve been on the record before as calling him a master marketer, and I think he is. I also think he’s a genuine guy most of the time.
A young fan named Keagan waited on the Razorbacks inside the team hotel upon their arrival to Little Rock over the weekend. Keagan is 6 years old and has multiple surgeries to remove brain tumors. Bielema and a handful of Arkansas players took a few minutes to visit with him instead of rushing off to their rooms.
Some things are bigger than football, being able to meet Keagan and experience the joy for life he has was something special for us all!! pic.twitter.com/H2zgzpGIU9
— Austin Allen (@austinallen8) October 3, 2016
Stopping to say hello isn’t the remarkable part. What makes it remarkable is Bielema has done this time and again. Media cameras aren’t out. He isn’t stopping for a PR moment with a forced smile, handshake, hug and carry on. It’s legitimate enjoyment of brightening a child’s day.
If nothing else, Bielema is a caring guy. That counts for something.
Winter is coming
That means basketball is coming. At Arkansas, unlike a lot of SEC schools — ahem — basketball remains a big deal. Even with one NCAA Tournament appearance in five years under coach Mike Anderson, the team is consistently in the top 25 in attendance. And this year, with a revamped roster including loads of potential talent in junior college transfers and some freshmen, the NCAA Tournament seems like a near-given.
This tidbit broke last week (sorry, by the way, I was off as my daughter was born just over a week ago and I took some father time. Thanks, SEC Country and thanks to my colleagues Jason Kersey and Trent Shadid for holding down the fort), but it bears mentioning again: The team’s annual Red-White game will be Sunday, Oct. 23 at Bud Walton Arena.
Get your first look at the #Fastest40 next month at the annual ?⚪️ Game in BWA!
? = FREE
— Razorback Basketball (@RazorbackMBB) September 29, 2016
The game is open to the public and folks can get in with a can of nonperishable food donation collected upon entry. Doors open at 3 p.m.; show starts at 4.
Week 4 of the NFL season is mostly finished after Sunday’s games.
- Travis Swanson – Detroit center
Started for Lions at center in 17-14 loss to Chicago
- Alvin Bailey – Cleveland offensive lineman
Benched for Browns’ 31-20 loss to Washington after arrest for driving-while-impaired
- Alex Collins – Seattle running back
1 carry for 1 yard in Seahawks’ 27-17 win over the New York Jets
- Knile Davis – Kansas City running back
3 kick returns for 51 yards, 1 carry for -2 yards and 2 catches for 14 in Chiefs’ 43-14 loss to Pittsburgh
- Trey Flowers – New England defensive end
3 tackles in Patriots’ 16-0 loss to Buffalo
- Hunter Henry – San Diego tight end
4 catches for 61 yards and his first career touchdown in Chargers’ 35-34 loss to New Orleans (see the score here)
- Darius Philon – San Diego defensive lineman
2 tackles in loss to New Orleans
- Ryan Mallett – Baltimore quarterback
DNP in Ravens’ 28-27 loss to Oakland
- Brett Goode – Green Bay long-snapper
Packers were on a bye in Week 4
- Jason Peters – Philadelphia offensive lineman
Eagles were on a bye in Week 4
- AJ Derby – New England tight end
Recorded no stats in Patriots’ 16-0 loss to Buffalo
- Chris Smith – Jacksonville defensive end
2 tackles and a sack in Jaguars’ 30-27 win over Indianapolis (his season debut)
- Martrell Spaight – Washington linebacker
Recorded no stats in Redskins’ 31-20 win over Cleveland
- Robert Thomas – New York Giants defensive tackle
Plays Monday night against Minnesota
- Jonathan Williams – Buffalo running back
Recorded no stats in Bills’ 16-0 win over New England
- Jarius Wright – Minnesota wide receiver
Plays Monday night against New York Giants
- Brandon Allen – Jacksonville quarterback
- Sebastian Tretola – Tennessee offensive lineman
What they’re saying
Michael Casagrande at AL.com is on an Arkansas-Alabama comparison ahead of the game this Saturday.
The legendary Bob Holt at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said don’t believe the stuff about Arkansas downplaying the game this week.
Over at Arkansas Fight, Mr. BVC gave a memorial of sorts on War Memorial Stadium, because, frankly, the Alcorn State game lent little other writing material.
Back from a three-week hiatus, the Arkansas men’s golf team starts Monday in Alabama at the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate. The Razorbacks have finished fifth in the tournament the last two years while host Alabama has won the thing every year it’s existed. Auburn, the third-ranked team in the nation, is the favorite. Arkansas, by the way, is receiving votes in the national top 25.
Razorbacks hockey is still in the top 25 — barely — after three straight losses over the weekend. Central Oklahoma beat Arkansas once and Oklahoma beat the Razorbacks twice to sweep the weekend. The team travels to Illinois State this weekend, seeking to snap a seven-game losing streak.
This is what I imagine the Chile Pepper Festival looked like this weekend.
The fifth-ranked Arkansas men’s cross country earned more hardware Saturday while most of us were watching Alcorn State get stomped. Arkansas pasted everyone in this event, too. Alex George set a personal 8K best of 23 minutes, 33.12 seconds in winning the Chile Pepper Festival team title, while the Razorbacks beat runner-up Wichita State in the meet by a whopping 83 points. Hogs runners finished first, second, fifth, 10th and 12th. The team gets two weeks off before pre-nationals in Indiana on October 15.
Yee-Haw! Only in Arkansas
Well, it could be more nationally embarrassing.
Per my old employer, Arkansas News Bureau, a former Arkansas state *senator* tested positive for methamphetamine (!!!!) after being pulled over for a traffic stop in August. The toxicology report was released last week.
Allllll righty, then.