Category Archives: Arkansas
Divisions in Power 5 conferences are stupid. There, I said it.
At a time where revenues are such that all away games, with few exceptions, call for chartered flights, I don’t buy the monetary concern. When preserving the ‘sanctity’ of a Georgia/Kentucky or Mississippi State/LSU rivalry, I don’t care. And following another season similar to the last few, where:
- The SEC East is a complete dumpster fire, where 5 West teams could have easily won it.
- Clemson and Florida State carry the crown for the ACC and play in the same division.
- Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State (and Michigan State, until 2016) play in the same division because of geography, and THAT’S A BETTER SYSTEM THAN THE ONE THEY HAD IN PLACE!
I’m adapting from a model Bill Connelly posited on SBNation this summer, because its a fascinating thought exercise, and it makes too much sense. In it:
- The Pac-12, with divisions and a 9-game schedule, is fine for now.
- The Big XII, jumbled mess as it is, has a round-robin (and a conference championship game starting next year, because SPORTS).
For the three fourteen-team conferences, division play doesn’t work. Unless you look forward to Georgia’s FIRST trip to conference rival Texas A&M during the end of Trump’s second term. Or your next trip to the Grove in 2029.
I’m not down for that. I’m not down for watching the Missouris and Floridas of the world get PASTED in the SEC Championship. I (Bill C first) want the following: keep an eight-game schedule, with three annual rivals and a rotation through the other 10 teams on a semiannual basis. Meaning, instead of going Mark Richt’s whole tenure before playing an SEC West opponent twice, you play a home-and-home with everyone every four years.
I’ll workshop this for all 42 teams involved below, but an example of what this would look like for Georgia:
Primary rivals: Auburn, Florida, South Carolina
Year 1: Alabama, at Kentucky, Ole Miss, at Missouri, Vanderbilt
Year 2: at Arkansas, LSU, at Mississippi State, Tennessee, at Texas A&M
Done in four-year cycles, one could even adapt years 3 and 4 from the first two to account for random shifts in competitive balance. Perhaps pair off each team for their non-rivals, so Kentucky doesn’t draw Alabama and Auburn, Mizzou doesn’t draw Georgia and Florida, etc.
This is the best I could come up with from a “PRESERVE OUR RIVALRIES!” perspective (and this may match Connelly verbatim, but I’m not checking):
|LSU||Texas A&M||Miss State||Arkansas|
|Mississippi State||Ole Miss||LSU||Auburn|
Some thoughts: South Carolina and Kentucky were SUPER hard to place. Kentucky gets, from a historical perspective, the easiest three games of anyone. Off the top of my head, there are no major rivalries that go unprotected, with the exception of Alabama/LSU (a more recent one, anyway).
The biggest misses? Tennessee/Kentucky, as Kentucky gets screwed out of the one game they get really worked up about. Bama/LSU, obviously.
I’d give myself a 10/10 for this. A&M, Arkansas, Mizzou, and LSU all preserve their regional rivalries. South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida all keep many of theirs. Vanderbilt/Ole Miss in the Khaki Bowl is still an annual event. Bama maintains history with Tennessee and Ole Miss, in addition to (obviously) Auburn.
If you don’t care about the ACC, you can stop reading now. Tried to draw it up there as well, but it is MUCH harder with the four North Carolina schools and the ‘old vs. new’ mentality that persists behind the scenes:
|Clemson||Georgia Tech||N.C. State||BC|
|Duke||North Carolina||Wake Forest||Louisville|
|Florida State||Miami||Wake Forest||N.C. State|
|Miami||Florida St.||Georgia Tech||Syracuse|
|North Carolina||Duke||N.C. State||Virginia|
|N.C. State||North Carolina||Clemson||Florida State|
|Virginia||Virginia Tech||North Carolina||Georgia Tech|
|Virginia Tech||Virginia||Louisville||Wake Forest|
|Wake Forest||Duke||Florida State||Virginia Tech|
This was friggin’ impossible. So many games that don’t make sense, especially for the Florida schools and the Northern schools, who would indubitably want games in the fertile Florida recruiting grounds.
Competitive balance, as it stands now, is a problem. N.C. State gets hosed, while UNC, Virginia Tech, and Pitt get relatively easy runs. I thought I’d be able to place Miami with more than one old Big East rival, but no dice.
For the B1G, I quit because I don’t care. But they need it worse than anyone else.
What do you think? Should we do away with divisions in order to make the conference feel like a conference again? Did I blow it on any rivalries?
My mother complained that her generation may not know what crunk factor is. Mom, it was a made-up term to describe the likelihood one of these otherwise-boring games goes haywire.
Also, drawing these up for 20 games at a time seemed unwieldy and irrelevant. Writing about the Idaho Potato Bowl 11 days before it took place was the wake-up call there.
What’s happening in bowl action today, December 29th? Three moderately compelling games!
Birmingham Bowl, South Florida vs. South Carolina, 2pm: A month ago, this game was SO much more fun. Willie Taggart had USF playing well and running the #1 offense in the country…but he bolted for Oregon. Quinton Flowers is still a joy to watch, and hopefully we don’t get the dreaded ‘coach left letdown.’
South Carolina inexplicably made a bowl with a coach who once failed to do that at FLORIDA. I’m kinda cheering for a Cocks win so they can be crushed under the darkhorse SEC East contender expectations that will surely follow from winning a meaningless bowl game in Birmingham.
CRUNK FACTOR/Watchability Index: 5/10… I’m feeling generous this morning, and its SEC vs. fun AAC. I can dig it.
Belk Bowl, #22 Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas, 5:30: First things first: its the bowl game named after a regional department store. Second, I was making customary Christmas exchanges in one of the Charlotte-area Belks yesterday, and ran into some Virginia Tech players on their bowl gift ‘shopping spree’. That bowl gift ranked in the mid-30’s on most lists, because it was the whole bowl gift.
Anyway, this game has weird fun written all over it. Rawleigh Williams (did not know it was RAWleigh until checking his stats) had an insane November for Arkansas. Jerod Evans is the ACC’s 5th-best QB, and that makes him the nation’s 10th-best QB. Bret Bieliema is a delight, and Justin Fuente exceeded expectations in year 1.
This game means nothing, as all do, but is worth excessive hype for the ACC Coastal if Virginia Tech piggybacks Miami’s impressive win. CRUNK FACTOR/Watchability Index: 6.5/10, something goofy will happen. Guaranteed.
Alamo Bowl: #12 Oklahoma State vs. #10 Colorado, 9: FINALLY our first ranked matchup of bowl season, after 26 other games will likely have finished. And who isn’t a sucker for Big XII exes grudge-matching each other? Texas A&M/K-State was fun.
Colorado, dubbed by many ‘America’s team’, is suffering the fate of blowing expectations out of the water. They lost all-world DC Jim Leavitt to Oregon, QB Sefo Liufau is hobbled and may not play. On the other hand, this team lost three games: at Michigan, USC, Washington. Most teams are going 0-3 in those, and most aren’t winning the other 10.
Oklahoma State has Mason Rudolph (good), Mike Gundy’s mullet (exceptional), and announced the return of Rudolph and leading wideout James Washington for 2017.
CRUNK/Watchability: 8.5/10. Evenly-matched, latenight, and high quality. We’ll drink every time someone mentions their loss to Central Michigan not being a loss, and we’ll enjoy this one.
Let’s go into a time capsule. The 2018 SEC regular season has just wrapped up, the current cycle of ‘new’ head coaches in the league have either established themselves or failed miserably, and there’ll be one name on the market that exceeds all others: 44-year old FAU head coach Lane Kiffin.
Kiffin, in southern Florida head coaching purgatory, has led the Owls to…something better than their 3-9 records of 2014-16, and has overachieved in recruiting even while going against Butch Davis, Charlie Strong, and Scott Frost for third-tier Florida recruits. Having spent three years in the Nick Saban school for coaches who can’t coach good and want to learn to do other stuff good too, he’s got the stink of failed stints in Oakland, Knoxville, and Los Angeles pretty much worn off, and will be sold to an SEC fanbase with a write-up stating something like the following:
Kiffin, 44, has matured from early failed coaching opportunities, as he rehabilitated his image leading Alabama’s offense to heights unseen under Nick Saban. At FAU, he has gone 15-11 with a Bahamas Bowl victory and an average recruiting class ranking in the 60’s, unheard of for the Owls.
This is a home run hire for (insert SEC team) no doubt, as he is young, experienced, a dynamic recruiter, and an offensive genius. Expect (insert SEC team) to see immediate results in recruiting and become a more compelling team on the field from day 1.
The fun part of this thought exercise? Its feasible that he could end up at literally ANY SEC program. Hires of Will Muschamp (twice), Jim McIlwain, and Kirby Smart are obvious indications that ANY ties to Alabama are worth their weight in Nick Saban-bronze statues to SEC AD’s.
Auburn (4:1): Leading off with the most obnoxious little brother-syndrome fanbase seems an obvious pick, and this timeline works perfectly. Gus Malzahn bought himself another year with a resurgent two months in 2016– but has no quarterbacks in the pipeline, so patience should be running pretty thin by this time next year. A slow start in 2018 and he’s toast.
In Kiffin, Auburn is tangentially, but not directly, tied to Saban after Kiffin’s departure. The hype around his ability to find a QB and playmakers will resonate on the plains, and Prince Lane returns to Alabama to restore the glory of the Auburn Tigers.
Ole Miss (5:1): Hugh Freeze may not survive this offseason, and that’s the only justification I have for putting the odds that low. Shea Patterson is on a three-year plan to leave Oxford (not gonna happen) and Kiffin will be seen as the savior who can right Patterson’s career. And the NCAA mess Freeze will inevitably leave behind.
LSU (8:1): Coach O has a low buyout, no quarterback, and no success as a full-time head coach.
I’d say his leash is about two years.
Kiffin fulfills his destiny, after being rumored to be O’s choice for OC this offseason.
Florida (10:1): Bolstered, no doubt, by his presence in the state, Kiffin will steal one under-the-radar recruit from the Gators and make him his offensive bellcow– putting up 90 catches for 1,400 yards in 2018 while Florida’s offense continues to be among the worst in the country.
Even on the heels of back-to-back SEC East titles, McIlwain has done nothing to show he’s a long-term fit in Gainesville. He was linked to the Oregon job this offseason, and seems savvy enough to pull the “I’m gonna be fired in a year, so let me get a new contract now” move of Houston Nutt and others before him.
McIlwain was an offensive hire, but the Gators have maintained their strong defenses from the Muschamp era…and the offense is still broken.
Kiffin with Florida talent! Unbelievable hire!
Arkansas (13:1): My thought is that, after two years of success at FAU, this won’t be sexy enough for Lane. If he peels back the curtains for a minute though, he’ll see that there is no sexier job in CFB. His two predecessors:
- Bobby Petrino, motorcycle accident with a young staffer. (8/10 sexy rating)
- Bret Bieliema, of “borderline erotic” fame. (8/10 sexy rating)
Bieliema has low-key sucked at Arkansas, overall, and his window to break through is probably the best fit for this timeline.
Alabama (15:1): Someday sooner than we realize, Nick Saban will retire or move on. Why not after his fourth-straight national championship? Steve Sarkisian will still have too many alcohol-related red flags to make the jump. Jeremy Pruitt is too unstable a human.
Why not keep Saban’s coordinators in place and rehire his right-hand man?
Georgia (25:1): (*note: this won’t happen with Greg McGarity at AD, and they likely won’t fire a “Georgia man” after three years, but say Kirby Smart is .500 after three years and Mark Richt has at least one ACC Coastal title*)
Yeah, it doesn’t sound so bad anymore, does it?
Georgia has the pro-style personnel in place to take immediate strides, and Smart’s recruiting will lend itself to an immediate turnaround to eke out another 2-3 wins based on talent and decent coaching alone.
RIP, “Kirby Dumb” memes.
South Carolina (30:1): A retread hire at South Carolina? Surely you jest. Lou Holtz, Steve Spurrier, and Will Muschamp have all found varying degrees of success doing just this, and I’m hedging on Coach Boom riding Jake Bentley and the young Cocks to two excellent seasons before he takes a better job (not gonna happen, but 30:1 seems safe).
Or, Boom flames out, or has a heart attack on the field, or something.
Off the board, but let’s try it:
Tennessee: Please god, yes.
Vanderbilt: For the complete opposite reason of above, please.
Mississippi State: Arkansas’ lack of sexy combined with an even less sexy history and Starkville.
Kentucky/Missouri: probably should’ve attached odds to both, but honestly forgot about these programs. Not a high enough ceiling for Lane, anyway.
Texas A&M: Tom Herman year 1 hysteria forces Kevin Sumlin out after 2017, Kiffin campaigns but does not get it.
Dude Emeritus here, back from the dead to grow some whiskers.
The crew from my day job is doing a contest, and I really don’t want to lose to a bunch of Big 10 and Pac-12 amateurs in my office. So show me some love by donating to the cause (not to me…just to my fundraiser). In exchange, I promise daily updates on my facial hair non-progress.
And as you can tell by this video, I’ve been really working over-time on that beard.
Thanks for your consideration.
And, because Chad is horrible at deadlines, we should mention he is running a similar campaign in via his real estate business.
Essentially, the idea is this: call him with a ready-to-go client referral, and he donates in your name. $100 in the Charlotte, NC area, $25 literally ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD.
No contests here, but he wants to at least beat the last two years’ combined total of just over $500.
Donate your own money here, or contact Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect him with someone in need of help buying, selling, or investing in property.
His selfie game is not nearly as strong, but his beard game is electric. Watch out for this one, folks.
I am not making light of Hurricane Matthew, and am not (intentionally) showing my bias.
As has been discussed throughout SEC country this week, Florida and LSU failed to play a football game last weekend. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley mandated that the Georgia/South Carolina game not happen on Saturday, and it was played on a beautiful Sunday. Notre Dame/N.C. State and Virginia Tech/UNC were played in torrential downpours. And every model had the games right in the Carolinas by Saturday.
So why didn’t the Florida/LSU game happen, and what happens if it (likely doesn’t) happen later?
It is abundantly clear that LSU was down to play this game. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, they moved a game from Baton Rouge to Tempe. The Tigers had a game with Tennessee move to a Monday to avoid another storm. Oh, and just last year, they agreed with South Carolina to play a game in Baton Rouge and donate all proceeds to flooding relief victims. Suffice it to say, they’ve been down this road before.
Florida, too, has been in this situation, as lightning caused their 2014 showdown with Idaho to be delayed, delayed, and finally cancelled. That’s fine, LSU cancelled a game with McNeese State for similar reasons last year.
BUT LSU MADE EVERY EFFORT TO PLAY THIS GAME.
Tigers AD Joe Alleva came out on the offensive in the wake of Thursday’s cancellation, stating that overtures had been made to play the game in Gainesville earlier or later in the day or week. No dice. In Baton Rouge? No, Florida found that unfair. In Mobile? Birmingham? Nashville? New Orleans? No, no, no, and no.
Even from an outside (and again, unbiased) perspective, Jeremy Foley stonewalled until arrangements to play this game wouldn’t happen.
Ironically, safety was the issue. I say ‘ironically’, because his solution kept his players in Gainesville, and because his ‘solution’ is to have LSU play three straight road games in 12 days at the end of the season.
Oh, and in the process take away the home game revenue of LSU’s last home game, Nov. 19, against South Alabama. You may recall that Baton Rouge had some flooding this summer, and their economy is in need of a home game. From Steven Godfrey’s article on the matter:
“I’d say for restaurants like ours in the community, it’s upwards of a $100,000 loss in sales compared to a normal Friday through Sunday,” said Ruffin Rodrigue, a former LSU player and owner of Ruffino’s restaurant in Baton Rouge.
“Of that number, a lot of that is money going directly to our employees, most of whom are coming off the flood. We’re trying to catch up right now. This is the last home game of the season. It’s senior night. That means it’s a homecoming for a lot of fans and families.”
His Ruffino’s location took on no water in the flood, but the Lafayette location did. A 9 p.m. post-flood curfew killed business across the city for almost a month.
“We were open for those three weeks, but no one could get here. The streets were flooded. Our sales went down 80 percent. But hey, still gotta pay your taxes and insurance, except there’s no cash coming in. So, everyone got really, really hurt. We need these home games to make good,” Rodrigue said.
“These home games are critical to getting our head above water, so to speak.”
So, we’re all in agreement that Florida has the egg on its face here, right?
Well, so does the SEC.
Mike Slive was critical in getting the aforementioned games to happen, as the SEC rules state that the commissioner can act as a facilitator to make agreeable concessions in incidents such as this. Greg Sankey? 0 for 1. By not taking a hard stance with Foley on LSU’s reasonable compromises, a failure in leadership up top throws the whole SEC season’s validity into question, because…
What could this impact?
The. Whole. Damn. SEC. Race.
As currently constituted, Florida and LSU will finish with 7 SEC games each. At 2-1, Florida’s remaining path includes Mizzou, Georgia, Arkansas and South Carolina. Logically played out, Florida should finish that schedule at 6-1, with a lone loss to Tennessee.
Tennessee, you ask? Oh, they play Bama this week. They finish with an easier schedule than that, but one can assume they finish 6-2.
Your SEC East champion based on the SEC’s rules? The Florida Gators.
You could run a similar hypothetical in the West, but its hard to see LSU going through Ole Miss, Alabama, Texas A&M, and Arkansas unscathed. (Although, COACH O!)
With its most daunting challenge ahead, and its starting quarterback out, Florida made zero effort to make this game happen. Until it was cancelled. Then, they leaned on Sankey to make something happen. These things included:
- Asking Georgia to move the Cocktail Party up a week so they could host LSU on Oct. 29. Jacksonville declined.
- Asking Texas A&M to move their Thanksgiving tilt with LSU to Thanksgiving Saturday, thus giving LSU a week’s rest between three tough road games. Both A&M and LSU declined.
- All of this, too, assuming that LSU would sacrifice its Senior Day game, pay off South Alabama (guarantee: $1.5 million), and come to Gainesville on Nov. 21. Florida’s guarantee for Presbyterian, by the way? $500,000.
To Foley’s credit, he is going out with a bang. He has yet to make one concession that would risk the Florida Gators football team, which I guess is his job. In so doing, though, he has undermined the SEC offices and pissed off every member institution in the conference.
Goddamnit, I hate Florida.