Bill Ingram on Bo's show yesterday....

He provided lots of insight into the deterioration of football in LR area public schools. Basically, bad facilities, can’t play football year around like basketball, lack of organization and probably poor coaching, and parents don’t really encourage kids to play football because it doesn’t keep them busy on the weekends and in the summer. Basketball, in contrast, can be played year around and the view is that it keeps kids out of trouble.

I’ve got a couple of ideas that may or may not be feasible. Here goes –

  1. If the Razorback Foundation is really a private concern (exempt from public information requests, etc.), then why can’t it raise and pump dedicated money into the LRSD to improve football? Facilities improvements (including weight rooms and stadiums), coaching salary enhancements, summer 7 on 7, uniforms/gear – all the stuff that the kids want, but are not getting. It won’t be cheap. But, I mean, what better ROI would there be for UA football? In my view, $30 million spent on LRSD football would benefit UA football a lot more than, oh I don’t know, adding 10,000 seats, more luxury suites, and new AD offices to the NEZ. We need better players – recruits. Winning pays all sorts of dividends, long term. I’m sure someone will tell me the NCAA would prohibit this. Wouldn’t be surprised.

  2. Why can’t the LRSD tell young me that, “look, if you want to play basketball, you also have to play football.” Or something like that. Not sure why that would be improper, but I’m sure someone can articulate why it is. I don’t think any students are guaranteed a right to participate in athletics. So placing conditions on participation ought to be proper.

Something needs to be done about LRSD football. It’s really hurting our football program. Like it or not, Razorback football is probably the most important institution in the state. I see nothing wrong with the UA proactively trying to better it by spending real money on it. Plus, wouldn’t most state politicians go along? What better way to get votes than to campaign on the fact you’re trying to get kids off the streets into football so the Razorbacks can win more.

Your suggestion in #2 is ridiculous and un-American.

Also I hope they don’t do anything that hurts basketball in the name of football. Basketball is thriving in LRSD and I am loving it.

Why would the Razorback Foundation pick football over basketball? I don’t get it. I love football, but I don’t see that the Razorback Foundation should do anything other than fund the efforts of the teams on campus. I believe that it’s barely capable of doing that. I think you are way off base in what you have suggested.

AAU basketball gets a bad name, but it has helped a lot of kids.

To be honest, if the Little Rock school district and/or the community don’t want to change these issues, I don’t think anyone else is going to have a real impact.

I do know that in the Arlington, TX area, if kids want to participate in any sport, they must first “go out” for football. My Gransdson is just plain great at Cross Country, but before he could do that, he had to try out for football (8th grade). Turned out, he is the best QB they had and starts for their Jr. High team. Then, he discovered basketball and is good at that. Finally, he still gets to run CC.

Now, I don’t know that I am for this arrangement. I think they should be able to do what they want, but at least it is done in other places. Of course, it is Texas.

One small benefit for me was when I went to the A&M game last year, I got to see him play and really enjoyed it. Even sent Clay a few videos. Enjoyed a Jr. High game far more than a Razorback game. Guess that is the nature of being a Grandpa!

I do agree that some money (form whatever source) needs to be pumped into football at the LRSD.

I don’t know that you can make kids go out for football before they can play basketball, but I (and I know I am probably in the minority here) think it is a good idea for basketball kids to play football. I know by the late 70’s at my high school the basketball coach was putting pressure on the good basketball kids to NOT play football, but concentrate on basketball. Both programs dropped off after that. The football team lost some very good athletes and the basketball team lost a lot of toughness (in my opinion). Can I be sure the loss of toughness was due to the kids not playing football? No, of course not. Maybe it was just coincidence.

I sure like the idea of basketball kids being at least STRONGLY encouraged to play football. Does that mean it trumps basketball? Of course not.

I don’t think you are suddenly going to get high school athletes to play football. I believe the decision to concentrate on basketball (and not football) is probably happening in the seventh or eighth grades.

I do not think this is a Little Rock issue. It’s probably a national issue for urban areas.

Disagree wholeheartedly with #2. As a long time high school basketball coach this is totally unfair. If a kid just wants to play football, that is great with all of the football coaches, but it was my experience at some schools that the football coach/AD wanted to try to make kids play football. If they don’t want to play, why would you want to make them play? Don’t get me wrong, I love football and basketball, but to make kids play one sport or the other is totally ridiculous. If they want to play both, good for them. If you have to make them play a particular sport, how much effort do you think they are going to really put into that sport that they are being made to play? Let’s face it, basketball is a fun sport to play and a fun sport to practice. Football is a fun sport to play on Friday nights, but during the week practices…not so much fun and I am speaking from my experiences as a player and a lot of years coaching.

Encouraging kids to play other sports is never a bad thing, but forcing them to is wrong. It is not LRSD’s job to supply the UofA football players any more than it is to supply the UofA band members. As a Hog fan, it’d be great to see the Little Rock public schools return to their football heyday, but extracurricular activities are just that. There are good athletes (perhaps even some D-1 players) walking the halls of schools throughout the state who are perfectly content with Physical Education. That’s their choice for whatever reason. Maybe they don’t like the contact. I knew a HS running back who was chiseled, looked like a great athlete, but feared short-yardage running. By all appearances, the young man should have been an outstanding back (had D-1 size and speed), but he hated the contact. Rather played basketball.

I think the requirement to “go out” for football would be fine, just like they apparently do in Arlington. I’d never heard of a school district doing that, but glad to know that idea is not without precedent. Football in LR used to be good. Not so now (except for PA). Something needs to be done. Innovative thinking is required.

Clay, I guess we differ on whether investing in the LRSD football infrastructure is or is not “funding the efforts of the teams on campus.” Improving LRSD football creates a pipeline of football players, good football players lead to more wins, wins equal revenue and prestige, and so on. I think some study of doing this should be undertaken. And I’m not necessarily confining it to the Razorback Foundation. Maybe some other mechanism could be established. But it seems the RF would have the most ability and networks to raise the money.

And no where did I say that basketball ought to be ignored. Not mutually exclusive. I’m just trying to get football out of the dark ages in Little Rock.

I will say this, if you were on the football team when I was in high school you WERE on the track team. The football off season work outs were just integrated into the track program. Even big slow guys (O linemen) like me. I had to learn how to throw the shot and the disk. There was never any serious efforts to have guys like me run any races in meets, but by gosh I was running distance “races” as a part of off season and if I had been any good (no chance of that) I would have been running those at meets.

I know that is different than making basketball kids play football, but I do think the idea that kids ought to at least be encouraged to play more than one sport, even if one is their primary sport, is a good one.

Clay, I guess we differ on whether investing in the LRSD football infrastructure is or is not “funding the efforts of the teams on campus.” Improving LRSD football creates a pipeline of football players, good football players lead to more wins, wins equal revenue and prestige, and so on. I think some study of doing this should be undertaken. And I’m not necessarily confining it to the Razorback Foundation. Maybe some other mechanism could be established. But it seems the RF would have the most ability and networks to raise the money.

And no where did I say that basketball ought to be ignored. Not mutually exclusive. I’m just trying to get football out of the dark ages in Little Rock.[/quote

I am 100% sure you didn’t mean to imply that they should ignore basketball. But the result of your suggestion is that if a kid wants to play BB, he is required to play FB. The flip side of that is if you don’t want to play FB, you will not be allowed to play BB. That does ignore and hurt basketball.

If kids in LRSD are voting with their feet by staying away from football, I don’t see that large infusions of money from RF, the school board (fat chance of that) or anywhere else will do anything but put lipstick on what is still a very ugly pig.

The problem with the Foundation or anyone else sinking money into LRSD is that the district would not relinquish control of how the money gets spent.

If you want to see a LR program on the rise, go check out Robinson (not Pulaski-Robinson). They have sent kids to the UA the past couple of years and it looks like they’ll be sending a 1-3 each year. It can be done but it takes a commitment from the administration at the school/district to make it happen.

I do not believe the people who donate to the Foundation would be supportive of subsidizing the LRSD. Just curious, do you donate and would you support it?

I disagree that in infusion of money won’t help. Money isn’t the only issue, no doubt. But better facilities, better and more coaches, time and attention will make kids more interested. It isn’t surprising that kids are “voting with their feet” when the message from the district is that football isn’t a priority.

Now, not say the RF should or even could do it.

Folks you are trying to equate the LRSD with a normal school district, it isn’t. The LRSD is under control of the State of Ark Department of Education, the private schools have siphoned off the cream. My church in LR supports Hall High by providing tutors and other assistance and hearing a report recently by the church member who is in charge of this operation I was shocked to hear how bad things are academically and economically. It’s not up to the Razorback Foundation to try and save the LRSD and while a millon dollar infusion might help its still a long way from fixing things… LRSD is about to close elementary schools because it can’t afford to keep them open.

I don’t think it’s ethical or right to take Razorback Foundation monies and spend them in Little Rock on public school problems. I do see their are problems. Just not the way to do it. Yes we differ on how that money should be spent.

The fix has to happen at the LRSD School Board level because they are the ones that are stubbornly sticking with bad policies. The LRSD is an embarassment to our state for more than the Football program. This is seriously a bad situation that needs unique fixes.

Disagree. The Little Rock school board has never demonstrated it can do anything, athletics wise, in a competent way. It is too political and frankly just awful. And I cannot assume the state taking it over will be any better. Somebody needs to take the bull by the horns, pump some private money into it and fix the problems Mr. Ingram and Keith Jackson identify. They know. They are on the ground there. That is really all I am saying.

It would long-term benefit the Razorbacks for the RF or some other entity to do that, despite what those entrenched in Fayetteville apparently think. Cannot believe some people think it won’t. Long-term, strategic and innovative thinking is necessary here. Bielema’s recruiting is not really getting it done thus far. Ingram is dead on. Very few if any four and five stars are going to come to Arkansas from Florida, Louisiana, Georgia and Texas. We have to develop our own. This cannot be refuted.

And, again, it’s not going to hurt basketball any. And the infusion of money damn sure won’t hurt LRSD academics any. How could the academics be any worse? If an organization offering the money tells the LRSD it has to go to football, the LRSD will agree. High school football is important in a small state like ours. It builds a bond. And dare I say improving it might help some of the racial problems that have plagued the district for decades.

Please let me state that I fully agree with your sentiment about the need for the district to be fixed. I have advocated Dmac, Joe Johnson, Portis, Keith Jackson, and other LR PRO athletes to drive visibility and desire for a fix. To your point about the RF, I think they could add some legitimate support. I agree with you and Bill Ingram too about recruiting. I have talked to a few people that say the current LRSD leadership is a road block to improvement. I think we both want the same thing but have variations of attack.