PTN’s “Ask Mike” Segment 8-3-20

Local Sports

Q. Okay let’s start thing off with our weekly Covid-19 update.

A. More good news. Hunter Yurachek said in a Zoom interview that all of Arkansas athletes, coaches and staff members were tested last week. There was not one positive case. Three current athletes were in self isolation at the time. He gave a great deal of credit to the athletes. Said that have shown a lot of discipline by staying away from places that might put them in contact with COVID-19. He also said the athletic department has been helping them socialize safely by setting up outings at Top Golf in Rogers just for them. They’ve been showing current movies on the big screen at Bud Walton Arena. In answer to a question Yurachek also said that he expects them to avoid problems when the students come back because, as he said, nobody wants to compete in fall sports more than they do.

Q. Okay our first question this week comes from MetropolisHog says: With Notre Dame reportedly playing a 10 game ACC schedule and sharing their NBC revenue, I feel like the ACC is one step closer to becoming the first super conference. If Notre Dame decides to stay in the ACC, do you feel like that will cause the SEC to start making moves to go to 16 teams in the off season?

A. I don’t think anything relating to expansion will happen that fast. There have been some rumblings that the power 5 conferences are ticked off at NCAA president Mark Emert and the positions he’s taken during the pandemic. Some feel he’s been trying to run the show with no input from the Power 5. They are especially concerned that he will cancel playoffs in sports other than football. FBS schools already control the football playoffs but in others, the NCAA is in charge. There have been some warning shots across Emert’s bow lately to the effect that the Power Five might pull out of the NCAA so they can control their championships in all sports. If that happens you would likely see some midmajors pulled into the Power Five. That’s when expansion would take place.

Q. parallaxpig asks: Are you in favor of moving this years Texas A&M game to College Station so we could get return game in Fayetteville?

A. Seems like it would be a good deal. Arkansas would play the Aggies in a socially distanced situation. Maybe 30,000 fans instead of 100,000. Next year A&M would come to Fayetteville with maybe 78 thousand fans. So that’s a good trade. I still think after those two years the series would go back to Arlington until the contract runs out.

Q. Lanny wants to know: Now that the SEC has announced a 10 game, conference only schedule, which two extra SEC East teams will Arkansas play?

A. That will probably be announced later this week. There have been a lot of guesses. Some say they will just add the teams from the East that Arkansas is scheduled to play in 2021 and 2022. That would be Georgia and South Carolina. But they could also take the last two East teams Arkansas played, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and add them. That would be Kentucky in Fayetteville and Vandy in Nashville. That would be ideal so it probably won’t happen. The SEC does not have a history of doing Arkansas any favors.

Q. Hog Fan n Tx asks: If our scheduled 10 games starts on Sept. 26, when can the team start practicing?

A. Well they’ve been practicing since early July. Right now they are still in the wall through stage. Actual August Camp, full scale workouts start on Friday. All eyes will be in that. For the first time these players will not be socially distanced. This are normal, pre COVID type preseason workouts. Some team have gone to a plastic or acrylic-type face shield to take the place of a mask. Not sure if Arkansas will do that. But some are saying when these players start getting face to face, with full body contact that’s when the chances of infections and a spread of COVID will go up. As I’ve said they’ve done a really good job of controlling things so far. This is new territory. Even Hunter Yurachek admits that. But again, to answer your question, pre season type practices begin on Thursday and for a lot of fans that’s exciting. it is for those of us in the sports media.

Q. claycohog wants to know: Will students be a part of the 25% that can attend games at DWRRS if that is indeed the correct percentage?

A. Yurachek was not asked that in his last Zoom when he discussed the 25% figure. I’m assuming he’s have to allow a certain percentage of students. Next time we’re talking to him we’ll ask to try to get a specific number.

Q. hobhog says: Apparently there are rumblings to allow players to put phrases on back of their jersey’s instead of their names. Think this has legs? Do you think it’s a good idea? Will Pittman and HY think it’s a smart thing to do?

A. No I don’t. Pro sports fans are already mad about the politics being injected into the game by players. If this spreads to the college level I’m afraid the reaction will be even worse. A lot of fans I talk to say this: I’m the customer. Just like I wouldn’t appreciate if if I walked into Walmart and their employees starting telling me about their political beliefs, I don’t want players doing this. Play the game. If you want to get involved in politics do it on their own time, not mine when I’m at a game. I don’ know if this will happen at Arkansas. I’m guessing not but I do expect it in the Pac 12. Again it’s not only a bad idea it could impact attendance and TV ratings Ad and conference commissioners really need to think this out.

Q. myriad_rocker asks: Have you heard how they’ll handle ticket refunds? Credit for next year? Cut checks? Also, how do you think they’ll shuffle around the ticket holders? Do you think they’ll offer refunds for those who don’t like or want their assigned seats?

A. The specifics of that have not been released. My guess is the type refunds will be optional. A full refund or a credit for next season. I’m guessing again but if your original assigned seat is different from the one your’re given I think they’ve give you a refund and add somebody who has season tickets but is not on the list in the reduced capacity for this season.

Q. I wastherein1969 wants to know: At what point in the season are we likely to see the immense talents of Malik Hornsby behind center for the Hogs ? Don’t you think it would be a waste of Malik’s talents to not get him in at least 4 games so as to maintain his red shirt season yet get him valuable playing time for next year ?

A. That’s anybody’s guess. There’s two ways a rookie QB is going to get into a game if the starter is healthy and playing well. 1. You have a big lead. 2. You’re so far behind you can’t win the game. With an SEC schedule only I think we all know which of those is more likely. I’ll just say this. Playing freshmen who are going to redshirt in the minimum four games maybe be desirable. With this staff and what they’re trying to do I would not count on it. They have to try to win some games this season. You don’t do that by putting Feleipe Franks on the bench to play a Freshmen QB.

Q. nchogg asks: Do you have any tidbits on the first couple of days of football practice. I know full pads start on the 6th.

A. We haven’t talked with Sam Pittman since they starred the walkthoughs. My guess is they’ll wait until at least after the first August Camp practice on Friday before he’s available. So we should hear from him on Friday evening, Saturday, Sunday or next Monday at the latest. They only thing I can tell you about the walkthough practices is that’re manage to do it without any infections.

Q. chop sooie wants to know: If all of college football adapts an abbreviated schedule and cancellation of certain games this upcoming season, do you think there will there be a “stigma” attached to whatever team wins the NC with people saying it was easier to accomplish?

A. I think some fans will do that especially if their team doesn’t win it all. But let’s say for argument’s sake that Oklahoma wins this year’s college playoff. I don’t think Sooner fans would have any issue with it and I think most fans would accept the results. But the team that wins the national title this season will probably always be known as the COVID year champion.

Q. ReddieHog19 asks: If we play a full basketball season, do you see the Hogs competing for or even winning the SEC championship?

A. I don’t make those kind of predictions but Aaron Torres of Fox Sports Radio said after Isaiah Joe announced he was coming back to school that Arkansas was his dark horse to win the SEC. I think Joe’s decision will have a big impact on the season. Rather than predict the Hos will win the SEC I’d say they have a much better chance of reaching the sweet 16 this season, something that hasn’t happened since Nolan was the head coach.

Q. JHicks3636 says: As it appears basketball season will greatly overlap football season, will we most likely see a reduced slate of games and might it have an SEC only component as well?

A. Honestly it’s way too early to talk about that. The COVID threat could be greatly reduced by then. Might even have a vaccination by the end of the year. But since you asked I’m gonna guess and I think they’ll play a full basketball season.

Q. Lanny is back and wants to know: How will the seating arrangement work for the games? Will it start with Annual donation members?

A. Nothing has been said about the specifics but that’s what everybody is assuming. Your seats, if you get them, will be based on your level of donation. Honestly that’s about the only way I can see it done. I guess they could draw seat assignments out of a hat but can’t see that.

Dark Helmet Hog asks: What do you think the chances are of having bowl games this season? Playoffs only maybe? If there are bowls, would they probably change the 6 win requirement?

A. I’m guessing again because the bowl people haven’t said but ‘s logical to assume that those bowls set to host the two first round playoff games will go ahead. I think the others will decide based on TV money. If it’s good they do it. If not they won’t which almost certainly eliminate a lot of those strangely named bowls like the Billy Bob’s Mowers bowl or whatever. Long story short, I don’t think they’ll play any bowls that might take a five win team.

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