Usually, when I’m watching a college game not involving Arkansas, my default rooting interest is based on what outcome will best benefit Arkansas - be that due to conference standings, boosting our SOS, or whatever.
But, there are games when none of that really applies. For example, last season - when we won just four games - NO outcome of another game really affected/enhanced how the rest of the nation perceived the Razorbacks, because we were irrelevant regardless. So, my question to all is, when you are watching such a game - one in which there is really no vested interest or impact on Arkansas - what are three teams you would normally root for?
For me, it would be TCU, Stanford and Georgia Tech. Back in the day, I kind of liked Tennessee too - before we played them in SEC play. Probably, upon reflection about why that was, it was because they sort of were to Alabama in the SEC what we were to Texas - almost always “pretty good”, but playing in Texas/Alabama’s shadow to the rest of the country most of the time. However, once we started playing them annually (which ended long ago) in the SEC, that changed.
So - why TCU, Stanford and Georgia Tech?
In the case of TCU, I simply respect how that program was turned around from a perennial doormat (for decades) into a consistent top 20 team over the last 15+ years. That’s incredibly difficult to do, so they have my respect. Plus, I like the fact that they did it based primarily on solid defense first; the offense came along later. And, they didn’t just turn around their product on the field. Having attended many Arkansas games at Amon Carter stadium, it was moribund in the past. When I went there for our game in 2016, it was a very good college football atmosphere. I was really impressed.
Stanford plays the style of football I most enjoy - dominant offensive line, strong running game, very good tight ends, and solid defense. In other words, the same type of program that Bielema was attempting to implement at Arkansas, but ultimately failed to do successfully. Plus, you never hear anything about them cutting corners or doing anything illegal. And at a place like Stanford, you know they aren’t getting any favors from the admission office. Just seems to be a program doing it the right way.
Finally - and I know I’m in the minority - but I’m a fan of a well-run, classic triple option offense. If run correctly, with precision and good decisions by the QB, it can be frustratingly difficult for even very good teams to stop. I’ll admit that 35 years ago - when probably half of the country went through a phase of trying either the wishbone or veer option for a few years - it was a little bit boring to watch many match-ups of option team vs. option team every week. But now that there are just a handful (mostly, the service academies), I enjoy watching Tech move methodically down the field against their opponents.
How about you? Who do you “kind of” root for, if the Hogs are not involved or impacted by the outcome?