Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.
Not qualifying for the NIT might seem a pretty ignominious end for John Pelphrey's Arkansas Razorbacks this season, but I can think of a few possible postseason occurrences that would make next season's outlook even grimmer. Losing more than one of our current players could tank another season, and this team is coming apart at the seams. Jason Henry's latest suspension, his second of the year and just one more of the countless Pel has doled out this season, only confirms the rumors swirling on message boards about fading discipline behind the scenes.
I called this squad John Pelphrey and the Upsetters after they felled those two giants in nonconference play, and that characterization has gone from apt to even more apt. Keeping the unstable elements under wraps during the season is less of a task, with each week's games compartmentalizing each week's new problems. But the off season presents a wider gap between gelling opportunities. For every Hog's sake, let's hope Pel and the staff have some serious team-building weekends in the Ozarks up their sleeves. If they're planning on floating the Buffalo, somebody better let Fortson know he can't steer every canoe on his own.
Speaking of off-season drama, the Washington County authorities have had their hands full. I've never been one to chastise, but the blotter's been running a little high on the Hog. Hazy insinuations surrounding Ryan Mallet have to clear up before we get too deep into this relationship. I can't take any more heartbreaks under center. And when my little brother called to let me know Matt Jones got released, I thought he meant from the clink. The Jaguars had been after Jones for some time about his lack of commitment, and this latest arrest just gave a green light they've been waiting on a couple years. With the season he had last year, I spec' Jones'll be just fine, if a little less flush than he would have been otherwise.
At least we have the Diamond Hogs. Dave Van Horn's team swept the No. 18 Florida Gators last weekend in convincing fashion. Usually it takes our bats a little more time to wake up in conference play. Thankfully, however, we were raking Florida's starters. Good news, because our iffy pitching needs all the help it can get on offense. Though their habit of eking out wins in the bottom of the 10th gives me the jitters, call me sold on our hopes for another College World Series appearance.
In other sports news, the SEC got jobbed by the NCAA selection committee. Auburn especially ought to be spitting mad. Tennessee's too weak in the mind to do much damage, but Varnardo and the Mississippi State Bulldogs ought to make good on their collision course with Thabeet and the UConn Huskies. LSU is less predictable by my measure, but if any SEC team is tough enough to beat that mouth-breathing, travel-happy, ugly-shooting, floppy-flailing senior from North Carolina, it's Trent Johnson's Tigers. Arkansas fans, of course, will have to settle for conference allegiance in order to give themselves over to the madness.
On another sad note, I've got what might be some bad news for anybody that gives a damn. My wife has landed a fantastic job in the Great White North, and I'm tagging along. Now's as good a time as any to make room among the Times' pages for more substantive coverage, and this column marks the last appearance of A Boy Named Sooie for the foreseeable future. If anybody has pointers on the best way to experience my favorite team's inevitable rise to former glory from north of the border, please do pass it along. Hockey won't fill this hole. I might be moving away, but I'm far from moving on.