Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.
The five stages of grief apply to Arkansas this week. At least, with no game on Saturday, there is probably not a better time to go through them. Saturday’s 56-3 shellacking at the hands of Auburn gives players, coaches and fans a whole week to emotionally deal with the aftershock.
First, the denial. Week after week, we were told the Arkansas offensive line was OK. Better than OK, sometimes. Problems with the defense were “correctable.” Eight games in and both have gotten worse, not better.
Then comes the anger, showcased in social media and message boards, mostly. The calling for heads peppers online experiences with the Arkansas masses. Robb Smith should be out of a job, they say. Kurt Anderson, too. A handful blame coach Bret Bielema. The blood lust is real.
Now we’re on to the bargaining. I took a text Monday morning about Denver Kirkland, the would-be senior who should have stayed at Arkansas instead of declaring for the NFL draft in the spring and who went undrafted.
Later comes the depression, the “we stink” remarks. Some have creeped into this territory already, suggesting Arkansas won’t win another game this year. While that’s possible, it’s unlikely.
Finally, the acceptance. My recommendation: Arkansas is what it is. A good-but-not-great team that was embarrassed on a national stage but probably won’t be again. Seven wins is what Arkansas should be tabbed for. It’s what they always should have been tabbed for. That’s where this program is right now.
As to whether or not you accept that part, well, that’s another story.
That’s just the worst
Three games immediately come to mind as the worst I can remember in my modern memory of Arkansas football.
The Citadel, 1992
This game, in retrospect, is more embarrassing for the timing. Arkansas had just joined the SEC over the summer. The Razorbacks’ introduction into “big-league” college football was to play a Division I-AA team, a military school no less. Even with double-digit starters back from a bowl team the year before, the Razorbacks stunk up the joint. The Citadel came to Fayetteville and won 10-3, resulting in the stepping down of coach Jack Crowe. Arkansas was ultimately an atrocious team that year, finishing 3-8-1, with one of those wins coming by a single point. What’s forgotten, though: The Citadel finished 11-2 that year, losing to eventual I-AA runner-up Youngstown State in the playoffs.
No one was sure what to expect from Arkansas just a few months after the Bobby Petrino debacle. The Razorbacks were not sharp against Jacksonville State in the season opener a week before but won by 25 points. Louisiana-Monroe rallied from a three-touchdown deficit in the second half to win in overtime, 34-31. The Razorbacks won three more games that year, none of which really mattered. The Warhawks went to the Independence Bowl.
The most yards allowed in school history. Some competent halves against superior teams in Alabama and Texas A&M. A Top 25 ranking, ahead of the Tigers, even. Then a touchdown on the first Auburn play and some concerns about “quitting” thereafter. Considering the talent on this team compared to the two other options here, this is the game that gets my vote as most embarrassing.
Note: Some folks might have either one of the Razorbacks games against Southern Cal in 2005 and 2006 on the list. The 2005 team lost to the Trojans 70-17, but that was the same Hogs team that lost to Vanderbilt the week before. They were known to be bad. Much more was expected of the 2006 team, which lost 50-14 to the Trojans.
- Good friend Doc Harper over at Arkansas Fight wrote a good piece on how the Arkansas defense, despite returning loads of players, is magnificently worse this year compared to last.
- Our Trent Shadid is doing some fun work during this bye week as he’s doing a position-by-position analysis of every unit on the roster. Not just “grades,” Shadid is going a bit more in-depth. This one is his quarterbacks piece.
- Brad Nessler, recently of ESPN fame, will make his CBS debut with Arkansas’ game against Florida on Nov. 5. Nessler is preparing for his role as lead SEC on CBS play-by-play announcer when Verne Lundquist retires at the end of this season.
- Speaking of Arkansas-Florida, the game time and network was announced Monday afternoon. Arkansas has beaten the Gators only once, in 1982.
- Longtime Arkansas beat guy Clay Henry gives a blow-by-blow of everything that went awry against Auburn.
- Two Tigers earned SEC Player of the Week honors after the Arkansas game. This from Brandon Marcello of 247 Sports.
Arkansas’ Jose Salazar is a regional champion. The No. 45 player in the nation beat Matic Spec of Minnesota in three sets to win the ITA Central Regional singles crown. The victory ensures his participation in November’s USTA/ITA National Indoor Championships.
Nine former Arkansas athletes were inducted in the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame on Monday. Joe Falcon (track and field), Quinn Grovey (football), Dan Hampton (football), Bev Lewis (track and field, administrator), Lee Mayberry (basketball), Kevin McReynolds (baseball), Frank O’Mara (track and field), Cliff Powell (football), and R.H. Sikes (golf) were all honored as part of a luncheon in Little Rock.
The Arkansas women’s golf team leads the Maryb S. Kauth Invitational by eight strokes after two days of play. Alana Uriell is in first-place individually in the event, which concludes Tuesday.
Golfers on the men’s side are third at the Quail Valley Intercollegiate after one day, just two shots behind leaders Michigan State.
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
Hannon. Paul Hannon.
He claimed to be 007. Instead he was taken down by a woman and her husband over the weekend in Little Rock after he tried to come at them with a knife.
When arrested, Hannon told authorities he was James Bond.
Oh, Little Rock.