With Memorial Day in the book and June staring us in the eye, college football fans are no doubt getting that itch that can’t really be scratched until preseason drills begin in August.
That’s when news sources will once again be brimming with information on Razorbacks football, and the various radio sports talk shows won’t have to dig quite as hard to find something interesting to draw listeners and keep them from moving on to another station.
Of course, in many instances, it’s not good for your favorite football program to be in the news during the months of May, June and July. Just ask programs like Baylor, Ole Miss and Alabama
Baylor, of course, fired its head coach Art Briles, demoted its president Kenneth Starr to chancellor and placed its athletics director Ian McCaw on probation for covering up incidents of sexual assaults perpetrated by Baylor players. There is an ongoing debate whether, the university responded to the injustice strongly enough. Many ask why Starr and McCaw retained their jobs. (Update: McCaw resigned after the university hired former Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe to coach the Bears for the 2016 season. Starr resigned Wednesday.)
The situation at Ole Miss doesn’t register as high on the crisis meter as Baylor’s, but anytime a program offers up 11 scholarships to the NCAA as penance in hopes that actual sanctions won’t be much more severe, you know there is dirt under somebody’s fingernails. This NCAA investigation does not involve Laremy Tunsil’s admission of taking money from Ole Miss coaches on the night of the recent NFL Draft. So, there is likely more bad news coming for Rebel fans.
Even Alabama’s not immune. Nick Saban forced his veteran defensive line coach Bo Davis to resign amid rumored recruiting violations. No doubt in the coming weeks, we’ll here more news of players from various schools being arrested like Crimson Tide players Cam Robinson and Hootie Jones were a few weeks ago.
As a Razorbacks fan, one might be tempted to poke fun or laugh at those troubles on a surface level; however, when I read stories like those my stomach just turns because I remember too many instances where the Razorbacks program was on the butt end of these types of stories.
Just last summer, Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks basketball program took a big hit over forgery arrests, and the Petrino fiasco isn’t far enough in the rearview mirror to be forgotten either.
Crazy things happen, and no program is immune no matter how well respected it is or pure it may seem. Who in the world ever would have imagined a program like Penn State has such a dark underbelly?
So in a very real sense, it’s a good thing for the Razorbacks if they’re not making headline news over the next two months, particularly with Arkansas’ baseball program on the sidelines for the NCAA Baseball Tournament.
With the golf team failing to make the cut in the NCAA Championships and placing a very strong 12th in the nation, only the men and women’s track teams are still competing.
With Lance Harter’s women’s and Chris Bucknam’s men’s teams combining to qualify more than 40 athletes for NCAA nationals, we could be getting some very good news on that front, perhaps championship-caliber news. Going into the NCAA Championships, held June 10-13 at Eugene, Ore., Arkansas’ women are ranked No. 1 and the men are ranked No. 5.
Hopefully over the next two months Razorbacks fans can be content by perusing other news or activities to tide us over during this fallow news period for college sports.
I noticed over the weekend that the college football preview magazines have already begun to populate news racks of local retail stores.
As a kid growing up in the 1970s and ‘80s, those magazines were a godsend to a little football fanatic like me. In the pre-internet age, newspapers didn’t follow recruiting as aggressively as they do today, so after spring practice there was even less football news reported in the summer than there is today.
I’d buy a different one each week in June with some of my lawn-mowing money, and I’d have the Razorbacks stories just about memorized by the time Arkansas’ press guide would come in the mail in August followed by Sports Illustrated’s college football preview magazine.
I still thumb through the new magazines today if I have time while grocery shopping, but the only one I usually buy is Hooten’s Arkansas Football. It has fine Razorbacks and SEC coverage, but what stands out is the enormous amount of space it allots to high school football.
Generally, high school sports news is good news, and during the summer good news is just my speed.