Admittedly, I haven’t followed Arkansas men’s track and field program as closely as I did 10-15 years ago. Until just now reading up a bit on this week-end’s SEC outdoor championship, I didn’t realize how far we had fallen in relation to other SEC teams. We are now ranked 8th in the SEC according to the national rankings (We are still 20th nationally). Are the other SEC teams that much improved, or is it that we’ve just fallen off the national radar?I had noticed that we haven’t done much on the national scene, but it seemed like we were top 3 or so at many recent SEC Championships the last 5 years or so.
It’s hard to believe that we are now just a mediocre SEC Men’s track program. Nearly as bad as football, but not quite.
The last couple of years, I guess I’ve followed the Women’s track program more than the men’s. They have become a strong national program, like the Men’s team used to be.
Are there no rumors of a change of our Head men’s track coach?
Bucknam has won 19 SEC championships, a national championship and has had four national runners-up in a sport that has become much more diversified and regulated than in the hey day of John McDonnell. I’ve said many times, no one is going to be able to be competitive in all three sports and come close to winning like he did again.
For comparison’s sake, during the same time frame as Bucknam has been at Arkansas, Lance Harter’s teams have won 17 SEC championships, three national championships and have been national runner-up twice.
The men’s team is down a little this year. I think the program is fine. Just two years ago, the men’s program was the national program of the year, which is a results-based award on placement at the three national meets.
Some people must have not seen when they passed the rules for getting to the Nationals by limiting the numbers the better teams could qualify, rules IMO aimed at Arkansas, Oregon and Wisconsin at the time. It is now impossible to get 35 or so points in any one event like coach Mac used to do regularly.
What is the trajectory of the men vs the women programs though? In outdoor track, the men have won one SEC championship out of the last 5 years, while the women have won 4 of 5 and are favored this year. It sure seems to me that the 2 programs are headed in opposite directions.
And on the comparison of the football program to the men’s track program, obviously the men’s football team is currently (last 3 years) much worse than the men’s track program. The comparison I was trying to make was that the football team, the last 20 years has been close to a mid-pack football program in the SEC. The men’s track program, this year , is a mid-pack SEC program, ranked 8th in the SEC. The men’s track program, since joining the SEC in 1992 and through 2009, won 15 of 18 men’s outdoor track championship. I just found that the drop to a mid-pack SEC team this year to be a startling drop from the total domination they once had over the SEC.
I don’t think the trajectory is bad at all for the men. The competition is a lot stronger on the men’s side because there are four elite programs in the SEC - Arkansas, Florida, LSU and Texas A&M.
Arkansas has a younger team this year that was in the thick of the SEC meet and outperformed its projected finish. The same thing happened at the indoor meet earlier this year when the Razorbacks finished runner-up. I think it will be favored to win an indoor title in the next year or two, and possibly an outdoor, although LSU and Florida are stronger outdoors most years.
Had Gabe Moore not injured his hamstring the other night, he likely would have won the decathlon and Arkansas would have finished second over a Florida team that might win the national championship.
I agree with you. I don’t see anything wrong with the men’s program. It is just that the rest of SEC has upped their game by focusing on all events rather than just the sprints.
It is amazing how ex-SEC athletes dominate the USA world championship and Olympic teams along with USC and UCLA. And these athletes come from all different SEC schools. For example, top 100M guy is from Tennessee, top 400M guy is from the Aggies, too long jumper from Arkansas, top triole jumper from Florida, top Pole Vaulter from Ole Miss, and so on.
BTW, Dwight Stones, former American record holder in High Jump, is now ESPN announcer that covers NCAA Track&Field loves SEC and particularly Arkansas. If you watch any of the Diamond League meets, world championships or Olympics, he never fails to mention “Arkansas” when an ex-Arkansas athlete is lining up for the event. I just love to hear that.
Next time Dwight is in town to cover a meet, you should do an interview with him for WholeHog.
You’re selling Dwight short, PJ. Held the WORLD record three different times and won two bronze medals in the high jump in the Munich and Montreal Olympics. He was the heavy favorite in '76 at Montreal but they had a rainstorm during the competition and he slipped on his approach a couple of times. Also made the Olympic team in '84, finishing fourth.
A tidbit I remember from way back when: Although Dwight competed for UCLA and then Long Beach State as a collegian, his grandfather wrote USC’s fight song while a dental student at USC.
The men finished third. And we’re not far back. The SEC is far and away the best track conference. Chris Bucknam’s record is pretty darn good. It does not match John McDonnell’s but I do not think anyone anywhere could. I am a big fan of Chris as a person and a coach. Love Lance Harter, too.
The men’s SEC meet was incredibly balanced this year. Not much difference between first and fourth. LSU prob felt they snuck in and stole one.
I have been interested in how a few teams have used their scholarships in the SEC. Alabama does not try to compete in track & field. But does throw a lot of scholarships in cross country.
The Arkansas approach under Chris is to try to win in both. I think that’s the way to do it under the current rules.
There were two key events that may have kept us from seriously challenging LSU for the team title. One is the pulled hamstring in the decathlon that probably cost us six points. Another was in the 400 hurdles. Travean Caldwell was in third place at the last hurdle, didn’t seem to clip the hurdle that I saw, but stumbled on landing and was passed by three or four runners, finishing in eighth for one point. If he remains third, that’s another five points (and one of the people who passed Caldwell was from LSU so that gave them another point). Suddenly we’re at 102 and LSU at 104 (LSU didn’t score in the decathlon).
Oh, there’s one other thing. If there was any athlete at McDonnell Track Saturday who was a guaranteed 10 points, it was Mondo Duplantis. And I don’t have to tell you where he’s enrolled. We had the same thing with Mike Conley back in the day, except he was a guaranteed 18-20 points in the long jump and triple jump.
Florida and LSU load up on sprinters and jumpers, and it has worked for them on the track, but they stink at cross country. Bama and Ole Miss load up on distance runners. Ole Miss won cross country last year but finished 11th on Saturday. LSU was dead last in cross country, Florida was 8th.