After watching year after year of dismal results for nearly a decade, I’m beginning to see that the Houston Nutt years were sort of the last heyday for Razorback football. I’m stunned by this personal reflection because I didn’t want him as our coach as I viewed him poorly at the end of my college days.
But now, with the benefit of time and the untimely program leadership of CBB, I see that we ran off Nutt, just like we ran off other producers like Hatfield and Holtz. I guess, it’s always greener over the fence.
And today, good golly, I’m just hoping for 5 wins this season. Without those 5 we may be looking back over the Morris years in a decade…saying, “Wow, those 4 wins sure were good in 2019”.
Petrino was a great coach with the record to back it up. Petrino’s other problems and actions were greater than the athletic director could stand and the board of trustees backed Long’s decision. At the time, most people felt than we could hire a good coach that didn’t act like Petrino. Then came tenure of Smile and the hiring of Bielema. Both were disasters and that left us where we are now. CCM has recruited extremely well considering how few games the Razorbacks have recently won. I expect that CCM will coach better this year and his assistants should also. The SEC overwhelmed the younger coaches. They should be ready to compete this year. The team will have better faster athletes and experienced skilled quarterbacks and that should be a huge advantage. If Morris can start winning, recruiting will be even better.
The SEC was a tougher, deeper conference when Broyles and Holtz were coaching. I don’t remember either Broyles or Holtz ever beating Bear Bryant’s Alabama teams in the Sugar Bowl. Both men were very good coaches and they would have won a lot of games in the SEC, but it’s hard not to give the SEC the nod as a tougher league.
Fans have a bad habit of underappreciating good coaches. I go back to the Broyles era & can say every coach we’ve had was maligned and belittled by at least some segment of the fans. Usually not at first, but soon enough. Petrino would have been had he stayed off his motorcycle and had a mediocre year in 2012. CBB showed some promise but that proved to be a false promise.
It’s simply too early to tell about Morris. I think he’s going to be fine, but there are already some (including some who were down on him the moment he was named) who’d start all over with the next guy “who can get it done.”
I know we can be a top notch program, but I also know it’s going to be harder here than it is at schools with larger recruiting bases & more resources (LSU, Bama, UGA, UF, TAMU & even Aub.) However, we can compete with them all periodically & we can occasionally have the magical year. And they won’t always be on top. We just need to stay a step ahead of the other SEC teams who don’t have advantages over us.
I still remember all too well the ribbing I took from my friends in Wisconsin about the Bielema hire. I think the most memorable quote I heard was, “The perfect example of the garbage taking itself out”. It was frustrating to say the least that Long had 8 months to find a head coach, and Bielema and John L. Smith were the best answers he could come up with. He made a bad situation worse when Long gave him an extension and a raise on a guaranteed money contract after going 6-6. Yeah, the Hogs beat Texas, but both programs were down by any reasonable person’s standards.
I think it’s foolish to label the Petrino era, short lived as it unfortunately was, as a decline. Back to back seasons of 10+ wins, a BCS bowl are nothing to sneeze at. He just couldn’t keep his hands off pretty blonde gals.
Whether or not Morris turns the program around during his tenure here remains to be seen. Yes, he’s doing a good on the recruiting trail, but the jury is still out on his coaching abilities at this level.
I’ll agree that the program was not in decline while Petrino was here. But the state of the program when he left was bad. His recruiting (or lack of recruiting) and his paying no attention to the character of those that he did recruit, did great damage to the program. He sure did sow the seeds of destruction.
I won’t argue that. He left the program with some necessary retooling, and lets be honest with ourselves. He preached accountability to those players every season he was here and held them to it, then ran off and did some really indefensible, irresponsible things that caused his ouster. It was a mole hill which was quickly becoming a mountain that was going to landslide onto him and the program.
That lack of continuity will hurt any program, but at a school like Arkansas where rebuilding under another system happens a little more slowly, it wound up hurting worse than any of us could imagine. It didn’t help that Long hired someone who never grasped the importance of recruiting out of Texas and honestly, never understood this fan base or its program.
I agree completely about CBB not understanding the importance of recruiting Texas. He also never understood the need for speed at every position. He thought those big fat (and slow) linemen would work. I’m not sure that he misunderstood the fan base, but he sure didn’t get what was needed to compete in the SEC.
My point in that is while our program and the UW program are in similar “status” as it pertains to the conferences we compete in, their attitudes to it are different. They weren’t the least bit heartbroken that UA hired CBB away from them literally on the doorstep of taking them to another Rose Bowl. They literally looked at it as good riddance, and I’ll leave alone feelings toward his bride. It gets pretty ridiculous depending on who you talk to. Let that happen at Arkansas on the eve of going to, lets say, a Sugar Bowl appearance, UA fans would’ve doubled in numbers because they would’ve been beside themselves over it. I just don’t think coming in that CBB grasped how serious our fan base was about this program, and an awful lot of it has to do with the fact that the Razorbacks are the main focal point of football here. The Badgers are second fiddle to the Green Bay Packers, and they always will be. I messaged one of my very best friends from up there and said that Arkansas had hired their coach when it was announced on ESPN. His first thought, honestly, was that it was the Packers coach.
I think we sometimes forget how “second fiddle” some major college teams are in their respective states or cities. The South still puts college football at a high premium, but not so most of the rest of the country. As big as Texas is, a few college football teams can have huge followings, but still fall short of local interest in the pro team. Texas & TAMU are pretty big in Dallas & Houston, but the Cowboys & Titans get the main headlines. The Saints seem bigger in N.O. than LSU. At least that’s been the sense I’ve gotten when I’ve been there.
One of the few assets the Razorbacks enjoy that other teams don’t enjoy is total statewide domination of sports talk, TV, newspapers, & fan interest. The fan bases for Alabama & Auburn are bigger than ours, but they still share the State of Alabama. Due to the split in Miss, I’d bet we have larger fan bases than either OM or MSU. (To the extent attendance measures such things, we do.)
At the time of CHDN, the SEC East was the dominant side of the conference and we very rarely won against those team. LSU, Bama, and Auburn weren’t the powerhouses they are now. I remember losses against Kentucky and Vandy. Of course we’ll never know, but had he coached in today’s SEC West I don’t think he would have faired as well.
That’s true, but one of our two permanent SECE opponents in the Nutt years was Tennessee (the other was SC) & at that time they were a dominant program. In fact, they won the NC in 1998, the year of the infamous Stoerner fumble in Knoxville.
South Carolina has seldom been a dominant program. I remember stomping SC and Holtz’s ARS in Little Rock. 98 took a lot of luck for Tennessee to win the NC. They weren’t dominant. Good but not dominant.
I have friends in Wisconsin. Some really liked Bielema. Some thought he was not the answer. These are people who live in Madison and live and breath Wisconsin football and didn’t care anything about the Packers.
Also, the crucial issue for Bielema was losing his two line coaches, Sam Pittman and Charlie Partridge. Those two stay in Fayetteville and recruit successfully, things would have been different. The replacements for those two were not top flight recruiters or coaches. I get uncomfortable when I hear that someone is coming from the NFL.