Chasing that Escalade: A Parable of Razorback Football

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman on the sidelines against Auburn during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

As car owners, most of us have faced a situation where we’ve had to make a decision on whether to keep what we are driving or to make a change.

I have to be honest with you, if money were no object, I probably wouldn’t be driving the car I’ll be driving today and most likely next year.

If money were no object, I wouldn’t just make a change; I’d make an upgrade.

I’d trade in my Ford Explorer and purchase a 2023 Cadillac Escalade.

But let’s face it, for the majority of us, money is always a concern.

I’ve got three and half years left on that Ford Explorer’s note that has to be paid one way or the other.

Yes, I’m facing a major repair job to keep it running, but I’m so far underwater on that note that making a change right now just does not make sense with my budget.

I mean, I could make the change.

I could just get rid of the Explorer and buy a new vehicle right now. I’d have to absorb that three and a half years left on the Explorer’s note, and then take on another, likely more expensive, note on top of it to purchase my new ride.

I could do it at the cost of all my other plans.

But is that the wise thing to do? Is it my only choice? What ramifications would such a brash decision make?

Also being realistic, that new ride would not be the 2023 Escalade of my dreams, either.

Four years ago when I bought this Explorer — which on the whole has been good to me — I had my eye on three other vehicles, but other customers outbid me on those.

If I trade now while I’m underwater, I might have to go with a late-model trade-in that would provide no guaranteed improvement over what I’m driving right right now.

In an emotional moment, with my Explorer broken down on the highway, making a change seemed like exactly what I wanted to do.

However, in a more rational light — when reality sets in — the prudent decision is to repair some issues that the Explorer is facing and drive it a bit longer.

I realize at some point a change is inevitable. It just is.

If the Explorer blows up this weekend on what should be an easy Saturday evening drive, maybe I’m forced to make a change?

However, at this moment, I’m going to make these repairs and see if I can get one, two, three or more productive years out of this Explorer before I let it go.

The expense is too great otherwise.

Jefferson seeks passing record as season winds down

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) passes with blocking from offensive lineman Brady Latham (62) against Texas A&M defensive lineman Walter Nolen (0) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Arkansas head football coach Sam Pittman said earlier in the week that he has not discussed with his starting quarterback K.J. Jefferson whether or not the record-setter will return for his final season of eligibility next year.

Jefferson, who is in his fifth year at Arkansas, has another year of eligibility remaining because of the additional year the NCAA granted to all athletes whose 2020 season was compromised by the coronavirus pandemic.

Pittman said that conversation will be had with Jefferson and several other senior Razorbacks who have remaining eligibility on Nov. 27, the Monday after Arkansas’ season finale on Nov. 24 against the Missouri Tigers.

When the Razorbacks take the field in Razorback Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Saturday against Florida International, they will be looking for a victory and a record that Jefferson no doubt covets, Arkansas’ career passing total.

Jefferson needs just 44 yards passing to add that record to his long list of Razorback accomplishments, which includes touchdown responsibility (85), touchdown passes (64), and total yards (9,493).

Records are made to be broken, but in this day of NIL and the transfer portal, the standards Jefferson finishes with at Arkansas aren’t likely to be challenged too soon.

The Hogs are a 32-point favorite against FIU. One hopes Jefferson and the Hogs earn that passing record and a decent lead early so that backup quarterback Jacolby Criswell can get some extended playing time.

Speculation has been rampant among fans and pundits whether Jefferson would return to Arkansas next year or attempt his luck in the NFL Draft, or even transfer elsewhere for his final year of eligibility.

My guess is that Pittman wasn’t showing all his cards in answering that question about Jefferson earlier in the week, but that media conference wasn’t really the time or place to fully address the situation, particularly with Jefferson not there to speak for himself.

Plus much can and will happen during the next 10 days that could play a role in Jefferson’s final decision, if his plan is not yet set in concrete.

Whatever Jefferson’s plan turns out to be, I wish him well.

If I were him, I’d take some of the NIL money that he earned and hire a trainer that could help him transition to playing tight end and then take a shot at earning an NFL roster spot by catching passes instead of throwing them.

Quarterback isn’t his position in the NFL with the struggles he’s had reading defenses, delivering passes on time, and throwing them on target this season. Jefferson throws a nice long ball, but his short and intermediate passes are inconsistent.

While I would enjoy seeing Jefferson play another season for the Hogs, I’d rather see him try his hand at the NFL than watch him play quarterback for another program.

Certainly this has not been the dream season anyone had in mind for the Razorbacks or Jefferson.

Even the most pessimistic of Hog fans didn’t see this season coming back in the dog days of summer when most were fairly optimistic about seven, eight or more wins.

There’s no way to rectify this season, but the Razorbacks can stop the bleeding by defeating Florida International, and then putting up a fight against No. 11 Missouri the day after Thanksgiving.

Arkansas Razorbacks 2023 football schedule

Overall: 3-7   SEC: 1-6   Streak: L1

Sept. 2 – Arkansas 56, Western Carolina 13
Sept. 9 – Arkansas 28, Kent State 6
Sept. 16 – BYU 38, Arkansas 31
Sept. 23 – LSU 34, Arkansas 31
Sept. 30 – Texas A&M 34, Arkansas 22
Oct. 7 – Ole Miss 27, Arkansas 20
Oct. 14 – Alabama 24, Arkansas 21
Oct. 21 – Mississippi State 7, Arkansas 3
Nov. 4 – Arkansas 39, Florida 36 (OT)
Nov. 11 – Auburn 48, Arkansas 10
Nov. 18 – Florida International (6:30 p.m. ESPNU)
Nov. 24 – Missouri (3 p.m. CBS)