Q. Our first question, more of an observation, is about Arkansas overtime win against Texas A&M on Saturday night. Sonny Scott says: There will be a little talk about clock management at the next practice.
A. I assume he’s referring to the two quick fouls Arkansas got near the end of regulation play. J.D. Notae got one with about 1:04 to play and Arkansas up by six points. That foul occurred just a few seconds into the shot clock. With :58 seconds left Chris Lyles hit two free throws so the lead was back to six. Four seconds later Stanley Umude fouled during a three point shot. A&M missed the shot but made all three free throws. The lead was now three and that ended up allowing the Aggies to hit the tying shot with nine seconds left. If Arkansas just plays defense without fouling I don’t think it would ever gone to O.T.
But that’s getting picky. It was a big win any way you look at it. A&M might be the toughest defensive matchup Arkansas will face. Those guys are relentless. They keep coming at you. Hardly ever lose focus and are hell on players who try to dribble into their defense which Arkansas does a lot of.
Honestly I didn’t think the Hogs would win. I give them credit for stepping back on the gas every time the Aggies got close. They never trailed in regulation and only trailed briefly in OT. This team is miles better than it was just a couple of weeks ago.
Q. Craig Hannah on the Facebook site “Going Hogwild on On The Hill With Coach Musselman” posted: I have been going to games on the Hill for over 40 years and this is the first time I have been disappointed with the crowd. Why did so many people leave at the end of regulation?
A. Bud Walton was close to capacity. Well over 18,000 fans. Anytime you get that many fans in that building you have fringe fans who only show up for the really big games. I’m guessing here but I think those people figured Arkansas had no chance in OT with Notae fouled out so they figured they’d beat the crowd to the parking lot and get out of the area before traffic started to pile up. Several players commented on how great the crowd was as did coach Muss. I wouldn’t read too much into it. Maybe some of the fans still aren’t convinced that the turnaround is for real. That will change if this team keeps winning.
Q. Brad Welch asks: Why do we need a DJ at home basketball games? We have a great band that generates a fan frenzy our team feeds off of. Let the cheerleaders and band do their jobs, making BWA a place to be feared, not entertained.
A. This came up last week. Fans wanting less DJ music and fewer sponsored promotions. As I said last week, it’s hard to gauge just how many season ticket holders feel this way. The athletic department sends out a survey to season ticket holders every year. If enough fans make this point I have to believe that the athletic department will respond.
Q. whippersnapper wants to know: Is Kelsey Plum still a part of the women’s basketball staff? I know it seemed to be a limited role when it was announced beforehand.
A. She is still playing in the WNBA. Limited role is correct in that she’s a grad assistant who works remotely. She’s still listed in that role on the basketball website.
Q. Let’s turn to football. Stu says: One of the articles I read indicated that Briles pulled a Nutt – that is, feigning interest in another job in order to get a raise here. Sounds very Sexton-ish, if true. Is it? I’m all for people getting whatever salary they can get, but…still not a fan of this method (again, if true).
A. I doubt that you read “an article” on that. More than likely you saw something about the Twitter war that erupted between a Razorback fan and a producer on the Dan Le Batard podcast.
Let’s take a look at how that started.
The producer, Mike Ryan Ruiz on Twitter posted: “Briles was never offered the Miami job and CAA (Jimmy Sexton’s Company) wanted Miami to so they could leverage it for a raise and loyalty clout at Arkansas. Miami never offered and they leaked the offer anyway. Briles really wanted to go to Miami fwiw.”
An Arkansas fan with the Twitter name of “Pinto” came back with this: “This is completely false. Miami offered Briles a deal he couldn’t refuse and he actually refused it, not once but twice. Briles left over seven figures for three years on the table to stay with Pittman and Arkansas. Nothing but respect for KB…”
The producer then fired back with an insult: “Respectfully, you don’t know (expletive)”
And finally Briles himself stepped in and posted: “Get a reliable source.”
Once Briles posted that, a small army of Arkansas fans joined in, many of them pointing out that multiple media outlets reported the story that Briles had turned Miami down. None of them wrote anything about Briles agent allegedly faking the story to get his client a raise.
What do I think? I think you’d have to be Briles, his agent or Miami coach Mario Cristobol to know for sure. Cristobol hasn’t said anything. Briles clearly says that claim is wrong so I’ll go with Briles, especially since coaches almost never comment on stuff like this. To me, the only reason Briles commented is because he didn’t want people thinking he did something like that.
Q.ChitownHawg says: I have seen posted on several social media sites that Hornsby has been told he will be moved to WR. Has there been a more legit source of this revelation?
A. No, and there’s been no word from Sam Pittman to indicate that he’s being moved. It’s all over social media and several of us in the media have heard the same thing but the word I get from Otis Kirk, and I trust what he says, is that Hornsby is not being moved to receiver.
The story that was floating around went like this: Hornsby entered the portal because his coaches were trying to convince him that his future in football was as a slot receiver to make use of his blazing straight line speed. He didn’t want to do that so he entered the portal. So when he came out of the portal there was an assumption that he was coming back as a receiver
But until Pittman clears this up it’s still going to be out there.
Q. TL Slaten says: If Hornsby is moving to receiver that means that Lucas Coley will probably move up to the backup QB position. Hornsby has been on the field in a critical situation (A&M game). Coley hasn’t. Is he ready for a jump like that?
A. Well again don’t assume that Hornsby is changing positions but regardless, Coley needs to have a really good spring. I do like the way this kid works. He went home to San Antonio after the bowl game and had some intense workouts during the rest of the semester break. He’s got quick feet. Stops and accelerates instantly; what they call “football speed.” Also he’s extremely impressive in public and in front of the cameras. You can tell he’s a guy who can command the huddle and that is huge. The first time I talked to Clint Stoerner that’s what I came away with. He had a kind of confidence and determination that told me he could command a huddle.
Q. Lanny asks: How serious is this knee surgery situation with KJ? Will he miss spring football?
A. It’s not an ACL injury. Just some loose cartilage that needs to be scoped. That’s typically a one month to six weeks recovery. So he would be back in time for spring ball. I’m not sure how much the coaches might limit him in the spring to be sure he’s okay. They really do need to get the backup QBs a lot of work. Spring ball is a development period. Somebody with KJs experience level doesn’t need to go all out in the spring but we’ll see.
Q. AlabamaHog asks: Do you have an idea(s) as to why Sam Pittman “Fired” Jermial Ashley the DL coach? Are you hearing any names as a possible replacement?
A. Recruiting. Arkansas has done a great job in the portal and with their 2022 class in most areas but the D-line still needs help. Arkansas lost out on Jaxon Player a D-lineman from Tulsa who Ashley had recruited to Tulsa. Supposedly Sam Pittman said to him, If you can’t get a kid to come to Arkansas who you got to go to Tulsa then you’re not doing your job. The truth is Player is from Waco and got no offer from Baylor out of High school. So not landing him may not be the whole story.
Some say that the players had issues with Ashley. This same story popped came up when Joe Foucha and Greg Brooks Jr. hit the portal right after the Outback Bowl. Supposedly they had issues with cornerbacks coach Sam Carter. So I’m skeptical that this anything to do with Ashley’s firing.
It is unusual for it to become public that an assistant coach has been fired. “Parted ways” is a more common given explanation. So maybe there was something about Ashley that made Pittman angry. But if so I haven’t heard about it.
There were also problems with the pass rush this past season but again, recruiting was the main reason I was given. If you will recall Pittman did this last year, fired two assistant coaches because they weren’t recruiting to his satisfaction. This man is dead serious about blowing up the notion that Arkansas will always have recruiting issues because it’s base is a small state with a limited number of top power 5 prospects. Arkansas just got a commitment from the top player in the state of Oklahoma. They doing well in Texas and Georgia. If you ever hope to win an SEC title at Arkansas you have to up the level of talent coming in by quite a bit.
Possible names for the next D-Line coach? The fans are going nuts over the fact that Ed Orgeron is available. He’s a great recruiter and has extensive experience as a D-Line coach but I’d say that’s a real longshot. After his last game at LSU coach O said he had plenty of money with his LSU buyout. He was going to move to Florida, sit on the beach, eat a lot of hamburgers and chill. Sounds like he wants to take a year off or even two before he jumps back into coaching. Or maybe he’s done.
Otis has a story up on our Pig Trail Nation Facebook page listing three more realistic possibilities. The one that caught my eye was Calvin Thibodeaux, currently at SMU. He was on OU’s staff until the head coaching change there. He is a past nominee for the Broyles award and has a reputation of being a strong recruiter. He had a five-star defensive lineman committed to Oklahoma before Lincoln Riley left for USC. At that point the young man flipped to A&M.
Q. austin.hogfan wants to know: What is your current assessment of the incoming portal talent? On paper seems like we’re improving overall? What’s missing?
They’re knocking it out of the park. They got a four-star D-line transfer and a four-star secondary transfer from LSU. They have a five-star transfer receiver from OU, a five-star linebacker transfer from Alabama and just landed a full time starter in the secondary from Georgia.
Let’s see, players from Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma and LSU and we still have fans freaking out over the portal. As I said last week, Sam Pittman can work the portal.
What’s missing? As I mentioned earlier, they need another quality defensive lineman. A nose guard or tackle.
Q. tophawg19 says: Dowell Loggains can recruit. 3 – 4 star tight ends. We have never had that before.
A. It’s interesting, when Loggains was hired his experience was all in the NFL and there’s no recruiting in pro football. So there were assumptions that he might not work out with Pittman. Obviously that’s not true. Otis Kirk told me that Loggains really out-recruited his own expectations for those 2023 tight ends. He thought he was gonna get two of them and ended up with all three.
Q: Reacting to Arkansas landing those three four-star tight ends for 2023 D.J. Pyles says: Awesome. But no way I see us keeping all 3 for next year’s signing day…… The money offers from elsewhere will be coming.
A. I addressed this NIL panic last week. I’m not saying that throwing big money at recruits will not affect some situations but I continue to be told that there is a good indication right now that recruited players and players already on scholarships are not being lured to other school in large numbers based on NIL money.
I will say that, as always, when a high school player commits over a year in advance of his signing day there is a chance he could change his mind for any number of reasons. That’s why coaches are never 100 percent sure of any commitment until the young man’s signature is on a national letter of intent. But I have been told by multiple sources with knowledge of he NIL situation that at this time buying players before they sign a National Letter of Intent is not a huge issue. It could become one but right now most players are still ending up at schools because of how they fit in at those schools. They like the school. They like the coaches.
Q . Dr. Strangepork wants to know: What is this new constitution that the NCAA voted on? Is this the beginning of the end of the NCAA as we know it?
A. That’s an overstatement but there will be big changes and it’s about time. The biggest change is a simplification NCAA constitution from 43 pages to 14 1/2. A lot of that is reducing the rules and trying to make the NCAA less open to lawsuits like the one that gave us NIL.
But these changes may not be over among power five schools. Remember when the Big 10 and the Pac 12 voted not to play football in 2020 because of COVID? The SEC, ACC and Big 12 said, to heck with that, the NCAA does not control football schedules and we are playing.
The hot button issue right now is over expansion of the college football playoffs. The SEC is solidly for it. Other conferences are not so sure. There is talk that the SEC may start adding new members again with the idea of creating it’s own national championship. Twelve or even sixteen teams in a playoff. An SEC conference with maybe 32 members. The SEC could say, if you want a legit national title go along with us or get left out.
So yes, big changes are coming and who knows where it stops?
Q. Pigsfeat asks: If the NCAA saw the NIL coming, why did they not put some rules in play rather than allowing anything schools can arrange and then trying to reign everybody back in?
A. They didn’t see it coming. That’s why it’s such a mess. There was no time to figure out what to do. They lost in the supreme court. They tried to get Congress involved. Good luck on getting those people to agree on anything. So they established a couple of no brainer rules and took the position that after a couple of years they would see where the obvious areas of abuse are and then address those areas. For now it’s almost anything goes.
Q. Finally there is this from teamOTIS: Do you think Arkansas will ever have an e-sports team? Also what’s your favorite video game?
A. There are quite a few collegiate e-sports teams. Most notable: Maryville University in Missouri, Northwood University in Michigan, Harrisburg University in Pennsylvania, UC Irvine and UT Dallas.
Some schools actually do offer scholarships. That’s not gonna happen at Arkansas, not as a part of the athletic department’s budget.
I used to play video games in the late 80’s. I decided I was spending too much time on it so I quit. PGA golf was probably my favorite. In college several of my friends and I would play Photo-Electric football. Kind of a crude late 60’s video game. There was a light bulb inside a box. You’d select an X’ & O’s versions of various plays on cardboard paper and place that over a transparent piece of plastic on top of the box. A defensive scheme would go over that. You’d then pull out a sliding piece of opaque cardboard which would reveal the play.
We played the entire SWC 1969 football season. My best friend, who was a huge Arkansas fan won the whole thing. He was actually sick the week of the big shootout so I took over for him and beat the guy who was playing for Texas. Arkansas went undefeated in our Photo-Electric version of the ’69 college football season.