Sometimes old Facebook posts can put you in your place, and show you exactly just how much you don’t know.
I had that experience Thursday when a post I made after the No. 7 Arkansas Razorbacks defeated No. 11 Kansas State Wildcats, 29-16, in the 2012 Cotton Bowl popped up on my Facebook feed.
Here it is:
This will be the first time the Hogs have finished in the Top 10 since 1982. Hatfield’s 1988 and ’89 teams had a shot, but lost in the Cotton Bowl each year. Nutt’s 1998 and 2006 squads had a chance, too, but losses in the Citrus and Cotton bowls left them in the second 10 as did last year’s loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
While I believe Arkansas may have had more complete teams in other years, this is the best season any Hog football team has compiled since Frank Broyles left Lou Holtz an incredibly stacked team for the 1977-78 season.
That squad smeared the Oklahoma Sooners in the 1978 Orange Bowl. That team finished third in the AP and UPI polls at 11-1 with its only loss to Earl Campbell’s Texas squad… As a fan, the great thing is I don’t think we’ve come close to seeing Bobby Petrino’s best Razorback squad.
Next up for the Razorbacks
Opponent: vs. Georgia
When: 2:30 p.m. p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9
TV: SEC Network
Current Record: 9-2
Next four games
Jan. 13 – at LSU (8 p.m. ESPN2/U)
Jan. 16 – at Alabama (2:30 p.m. SEC Network)
Jan. 20 – Auburn (8 p.m. SEC Network)
Jan. 23 – at Vanderbilt (12 p.m. SEC Network)
OK, everything I wrote up to that last sentence was absolutely accurate and correct. My prediction, well, it was about as off base as possible.
Who knew Petrino’s lust would blow all that he and his staff had crafted together in four years up in a matter of months?
None of us will every forget that fateful motorcycle ride out toward the Pig Trail.
The Razorbacks have been struggling on the gridiron ever since. Certainly, Bret Bielema had a trio of winning years on the Hill in 2014, ’15’ 16, but that eroded so quickly in 2017 to 4-8 that boosters and fans were clamoring for Gus Malzahn to return to his roots and bring glory back to the program. They were ready to move or remove heaven and earth to get him here.
Little did those boosters know that Arkansas had lost their true chance to actually hire Malzahn after his lone season as Arkansas State’s head coach in 2012. Malzahn accepted the Auburn job minutes after word spread that Bielema had accepted the Razorback job in December of 2012. Malzahn was hoping for a Hog call.
in 2017, Malzahn’s agent Jimmy Sexton flirted with Arkansas to drive up his price at Auburn when Arkansas boosters sought to bring Gus home as they booted first athletics director Jeff Long and then Bielema with his princely buy-out, out the door.
Malzahn probably was interested in the Arkansas job that season for a week or two as a contingency plan when his Tigers were struggling, but by the time his they clenched the SEC West title with a surprise win over Alabama, he was staying on the Plains of Auburn. The only question was for how much.
Obviously, Sexton continued to court offers from Arkansas to sweeten the pot of gold Auburn would offer. No one should have been surprised when Malzahn spurned Arkansas to stay at Auburn.
However, Arkansas was dumbfounded and without an athletic director.
Even though Sexton had played them like a fiddle to drive up Auburn’s price, those in control snapped up his client Chad Morris like a bream nabbing a cricket, only to face the sting of the hook when Morris found himself vastly over his head as head coach in the SEC during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Before officially hiring Morris, Arkansas’ Board of Trustees actually got their act together and made a good hire in Hunter Yurachek as Long’s replacement as athletic director.
Yurachek seems to be in the process of righting the Razorback ship with his hires of Eric Musselman and Sam Pittman now heading up the basketball and all-important football programs respectively.
Mind you that’s a guarded assessment, which isn’t like my 2012 prediction for Petrino, or at least I hope not.
Even in the short time that Pittman and Musselman have been on campus, they’ve shown that they know their stuff. One hopes their moral compass doesn’t become compromised like Petrino’s. I honestly don’t think Hog fans have to worry about anything like that, but that was also the furtherest thing from my mind back in 2012.
However, returning the Hogs to greatness on the gridiron and the hardwood is no easy feat. The SEC is so competitive in nearly every aspect of athletics that even great coaches aren’t a guarantee of success.
Right now, Musselman’s struggling to find the right fit with his basketball squad, which has lost two consecutive SEC games after starting the season 9-0 against an admittedly weak-sister schedule.
The loss of grad-transfer Justin Smith for another two to five weeks has thrown a huge kink in the Hogs’ lineup. Smith could score, but his strength and dirty work on the boards and on defense is something the Razorbacks have struggled to replace.
Nolan Richardson and Mike Anderson used to talk about how they liked to be a blue-collar team with blue-collar players. Musselman could use a little bit more of that kind of grind and grit from his Razorbacks.
The Hogs shot much better Wednesday in a 79-74 loss to No. 8 Tennessee than they did in their meltdown 81-68 loss at home to Missouri, but 20 turnovers and too many fouls handcuffed them with their second loss in a row.
Those back-to-back losses make Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game with Georgia (7-2, 0-2), an almost must-win situation with back-to-back road trips to LSU (7-2, 2-1) on Wednesday and Alabama (8-3, 3-0) on Jan. 6.
The Razorbacks do not want to be sitting on a 1-3 record going into to those type of road tests.
It’s going to be a big game for the Hogs Saturday in Walton Arena. It’s a shame Covid-19 is limiting the crowd so severely. The Razorbacks could use the support.