“Through thick and thin and through it all, I’m gonna be for Arkansas.” – Old Arkansas saying.
If you’re not an Arkansas football fan, you might not be interested in this. If you are an Arkansas fan, you’re probably depressed and hurting right now.
Before the season started, there was national championship talk. It was probably unrealistic but not completely crazy. Last year’s team lost only two games, and both those games were to teams that were ranked number one in the country at the time. The team started this season ranked tenth, and moved up to eighth after an opening win over Jacksonville State.
Then the wheels came off, the bottom fell out, the shit hit the fan. First the Razorbacks lost in overtime to Louisiana Monroe. Never mind that LM has a damn good team this year. Arkansas just isn’t supposed to lose to them, ever.
Then Alabama came to Fayetteville and administered a humiliating ass whipping, 52-0. Arkansas was playing without their starting quarterback, and would probably have lost anyway, but not by this wide a margin. Getting shut out in front of your fans is unacceptable.
Then Rutgers came to town. The Razorbacks were favored by the oddsmakers. They lost anyway, letting Rutgers come back, the defense playing like a bunch of girls, unable to stop the passing game.
Then they had to go down to College Station, Texas, where A&M blew them away, 58-10. Oh, the shame of it all.
What the hell happened to the team that was supposed to compete for an SEC title? There’s no simple answer, but the biggest factor was our new head coach John L. Smith.
Up until last year, Bobby Petrino had been building a team that was getting better and better. Hope buoyed in the hearts of Razorback fans. Hope for football glory.
When Bobby Petrino had a motorcycle wreck with his girlfriend on the back of his bike, Razorback fans were second only to his wife and family at becoming the victims of his firing. The university hired a makeshift interim coach. John L. Smith, and it was all over right then. John L. Smith is a nce guy, too nice to be a football coach, and not a dumb guy, but not smart enough to coach in the highly competitive SEC.
Personally, I think firing Petrino was a screw up. Bill Clinton philandered all the way from Arkansas to Washington. But his wife forgave him, and so did the American public. If the university had suspended Petrino without pay for a few months, and then let him come back, things would be different now.
We wouldn’t have lost to Louisiana Monroe. Smith lost that game through bad clock management. We would probably have beaten Rutgers on our home field. It’s now obvious that Smith doesn’t know how to get the team ready and that they are not in top physical or mental condition.
We might have lost to Alabama and Texas A&M, but it would have been more competitive and Arkansas wouldn’t have looked just hopeless.
Instead of 1-4, Arkansas should be at least 3-2 at this point. That’s the difference between Petrino and Smith.
There’s an important lesson to be learned here. Don’t put a nice guy in charge of your football team. Find the biggest asshole you can and put them in charge. Football players are by and large assholes, so you need an even bigger asshole to rule them by fear and intimidation. That’s what football players understand.
A lot of people think Nick Saban at Alabama in the best coach in the country. He may be the biggest asshole in the country too. When Alabama was in the middle of drubbing Arkanas by a bunch of points, the TV folks showed Saban shouting angrily into the face of one of his players over some mistake. That’s how you coach winning football.
Now, this Saturday, the Razorbacks have to go down to Auburn, Alabama and play. The handicappers say they are ten point underdogs. It’s hard to know if they can overcome all the adversity and win. It will be up to the players. The coaching staff has proven they can’t win.
The Arkansas Razorbacks mean a lot to the people of Arkansas. There are no pro teams in the state. There is only one major university. The Razorbacks are all we have. We’re a small state with few resources competing in the best football conference in the country. Over the years, the fans have watched a lot of teams struggle, but the fans here are great. They never stopped supporting their team, even in the darkest moments. The fans deserve better than this.