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New Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads

Turning s— into sugar: Rhoads has done it before; now he must at Arkansas

With your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas Razorbacks. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! No place like it on the Web.

I will give you three minutes. No Google. No Internet, period.

Who was the best player on Paul Rhoads’ Pittsburgh defenses in the 2000s?

Hell, name me *any* player on those defenses in the 2000s. Odds are, you can’t. Darrelle Revis if you’re up on things. I do this stuff for a living — it’s literally my job to know such things — and I had trouble naming them into double-digits. And you may be telling yourself, “This is Arkansas, not Pitt.” Fair enough. Pitt isn’t exactly a powerhouse football program. Occasionally good. Never great. Honestly, this past generation, the Panthers are a lot like Arkansas.

This table shows you exactly what Rhoads did during his time as defensive coordinator in the Big East during that era. It notes the year, Pitt’s total defense ranking nationally, the team’s record and which defensive players went to the NFL that next spring.

2000 — 29th (7-4)
2001 — 7th (6-5) — Ramon Walker, Bryan Knight
2002 — 12th (9-4) — Gerald Hayes, Torrie Cox
2003 — 79th (8-5) — Shawntae Spencer, Claude Harriott
2004 — 73rd (8-4)
2005 — 31st (5-6) — Josh Lay
2006 — 87th (6-6) — Darrelle Revis, HB Blades, Clint Session
2007 — 5th (5-7) — Kennard Cox

Now, even looking at that, how many Pitt defenders do you know? Point is, Rhoads made magic out of mincemeat. Something he will be tasked to do again this next season with the Razorbacks, especially if you believe “the problem is talent” notion that seems to come from the Robb Smith apologists.

And, really, they’re not totally wrong. They’re just putting the primary on the wrong thing. Arkansas isn’t as talented as other teams in the SEC. But that’s been the case for a long, long time now, and the defense had held its own better than it did last year.

Anyway, between Rhoads’ résumé and the anecdotal stories from coaches elsewhere who know and have worked with the man, by all accounts, Rhoads is a home-run hire for Bret Bielema at defensive coordinator.

The man’s worked miracles before. Perhaps he can in 2017.

This is going to happen — mark it down

Charlie Partridge will be on Arkansas’ football staff next season.

That’s it. That’s the entire section.

Boom: Arkansas hoops is back

For now.

On Wednesday morning, a few hours after Arkansas slipped past Texas A&M, 62-60. Doesn’t mean this is going to hold, but it’s a step in the right direction. Plus, here’s the thing: A lot like Arkansas football, these Razorbacks have exactly the record they were supposed to have at this point.

Arkansas F/C Moses Kingsley (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Arkansas F/C Moses Kingsley (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Like football, as well, it’s a little deceiving. Arkansas should have beaten Mississippi State at home and should have lost to Texas A&M on the road. Either way, the Razorbacks are 2-3 in conference play at this point. The record isn’t a shocker. At the very worst, they’re a game below what should have been expected.

Arkansas can make hay now, though, as the schedule opens up. A bad LSU team visits Bud Walton Arena later this week. Next week, a trip to ‘meh’ Vanderbilt and underachieving Oklahoma State of the Big 12.

The Razorbacks are better than all three of those teams. Win them and Arkansas is suddenly on a four-game winning streak, including 4-3 in the SEC, and sitting pretty. Lose them — especially the LSU game — and we’re back where we were before the win against Texas A&M on Tuesday night. Maybe even worse.

My how things can change.

Danberry upgrades

We all know it. Nobody will outright say it. Something fishy is going on with the Arkansas women’s basketball program.

Jordan Danberry, who quit the team earlier this season, will play with Mississippi State when her college career resumes. That’s current No. 4 in the country Mississippi State wanting a player who lost her starting job at Arkansas this season.

All righty, then.

OK, she lost the job. Those things happen. But she was getting almost no run just a season after being maybe one of the three best players on the roster. How’s that work, especially when the Razorbacks are 1-4 in the SEC and have losses to Missouri State and Oral Roberts?

If you believe that loss in Danberry’s playing time was completely unrelated to her and her teammates’ national anthem protest during the exhibition season, you have some steely faith. Of the six players who knelt that day, three have left the team; one is redshirting (another story in and of itself to me); another is out with an injury, apparently; and the final one is starting.

Arkansas is second to last in the SEC in the meantime. Rumors float around that program like wildfire. Everything ugly you think only happens with the men’s basketball or football team, that’s the stuff that’s lingering around the women’s program right now. It doesn’t smell nice.

And it’s a real shame.

ICYMI

Arkansas landed 10 recruits from its 2017 class early.

All 10 have officially been announced, including seven high school recruits. Our Trent Shadid breaks them down with detail and some expectation of what to expect from them.

D.J. Williams’ name might not be dropped any more anytime soon from Bielema. The Arkansas coach blocked the former NFL tight end on Twitter recently. Williams played for the Razorbacks and won the Mackey Award in 2010. Williams now, among other things, serves as an analyst and storyteller for Razorback Nation, aka: He’s “media.” A little surprising.

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