Favorite

Solidly second tier 

Nobody was delusional enough to think that a reeling Arkansas team would be able to summon any kind of miracle when the reigning titans of college football came calling last Saturday. When Tyler Wilson donned a headset instead of a helmet just before kickoff against Alabama, the die was cast.

Actually, that's not fair.

It was cast on Jan. 4, 2007. Nick Saban officially became the head coach at Alabama that day, spurning the Miami Dolphins after two middling years because he relished the challenge that wilted others: becoming Bear's true successor. Since that time, he has done everything in his power to cripple other programs, Arkansas principally. The impetus for a 52-point pasting of a once-proud team, what with its slew of proven returning assets and fleeting hopes of authoring a power shakeup after the past couple of seasons, begins and ends in the trenches. Alabama builds from the nucleus outward: linemen on both sides must be massive, agile and versatile. How many times has an All-American like Barrett Jones been shuffled around from one position to another and continued to play at the highest level? When a guy like Marcel Dareus leaves for the professional ranks and a massive rookie contract, another anchor like Jesse Williams is just casually dropped onto the chessboard. You can smirk and mutter about cheating and what-not, but until such conspiracies are legitimized, the fact is that Saban is the hardest-working coach in the country for 365 days a year. In 2008 and 2012, I feel certain he didn't take Leap Day off, either.

Arkansas has no physical toughness like this, and thanks to moribund, groan-worthy "leadership" from a bunch of coaches who will be fortunate to sling Amway products in six months, the Hogs are even less resilient from an emotional standpoint. For about 10-12 minutes of game time Saturday, with the crowd in that nervous posture with one fist in the air and the other hand squarely wrapped around the car keys, Arkansas played inspired and empowered. It did so not because of John L. Smith's magical butt-cuppings, as he demonstrated to Tracy Wolfson before crow-hopping his way to the locker room, but because it simply had no choice. Large kids though they may be, the Razorbacks have enough maturity to know that they can't simply trudge out before 70,000-plus and just play grabass for a couple of hours.

Then again, they also cannot send deep snaps flailing or let catchable passes deflect away or clang field goals off the uprights. Arkansas could not get out of its own way, as has become commonplace in clashes with the Tide. Once again, Alabama forced some errors on the Razorbacks' part, but simply allowed others to happen. All the while, AJ McCarron played error-free football, throwing simple but crisp passes, reading blitzes (to be fair, Arkansas's blitzes could be spotted by passengers in a Learjet overhead) and eluding whatever token pressure the Hogs attempted to bring. His stable of running backs was on point, seeing and exploiting running lanes and securing the slippery football nicely on a day where Arkansas fumbled a whopping eight times.

If what happened against Louisiana-Monroe left Hog fans staggered, then the achingly stark afternoon in Fayetteville was the knockout blow. The gulf between Alabama and Arkansas is gaping now, and you can assign the blame for that to Bobby Petrino, but not for the reasons you think. It wasn't a careening Harley Davidson that contributed to the problem.

The fact is that for all Petrino's wondrous play-calling ability, for his innate and clearly non-genetic vision for how to break down a defense, he could only reach modest heights on the recruiting trail and it ultimately left his team stalled at the second tier. His best team at Arkansas was the 2010 squad that reached the Sugar Bowl, and that team still could not close the deal in a home game against Alabama that for three quarters went about as well as it could. The Hogs systematically blew the doors off lesser squads the past three seasons but once faced with muscle, the fight went awry and often sharply. On certain, isolated occasions, the Hogs did display the ability to grind their way to victory, but let's not forget how often commentators fawned over our quick-strike ability. If you can score in a matter of seconds, it may make for beautiful homemade highlight reels on YouTube, but in yet another golden age for Alabama, it simply doesn't win titles.

And thanks to eight horrible days in September, the 2012 Hogs can take that vision off the board yet again. Tyler Wilson gave an impassioned, Tebow Lite postgame address that suggested he wasn't going to let demoralized teammates and inept coaches ruin his final autumn in Fayetteville. The cold reality of the program's stature should not keep him and other deserving players from putting together a commendable enough season to build a lucrative pro career upon.

Favorite

Speaking of John L. Smith, Tyler Wilson

  • Former Hog coach John Smith under scrutiny for contract in bankruptcy court

    February 13, 2013
    USA Today reports: Former Arkansas football coach John L. Smith has been accused of using his employment contracts with the Razorbacks to defraud several of his creditors, according to two complaints filed this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. /more/
  • A new era for Razorbacks

    February 6, 2013
    You do not have to be steeped in wizardry or any kind of advanced science to understand that Arkansas football is being purified from the roots up. /more/
  • Jeff Long: 2012 Arkansan of the year

    January 16, 2013
    It's difficult to fathom an occasion where any other agent of Razorback culture was so frequently cussed or discussed. /more/
  • Other Arkies of the Year

    January 16, 2013
    They also stood out. /more/
  • The craziest year in Razorback history

    December 26, 2012
    In prior editions of Pearls, I have freely disclosed being a bit of a "newbie", a child of the 1980s who nonetheless has devoted generous portions of his life to studying the overall history of Arkansas Razorback athletics. Therefore, at the risk of offending those whose memories may be longer than my own, I still think I'm qualified to say that 2012 was the most oddball, bass-ackwards mess of a year for that institution since the leather helmet/peach basket era. /more/
  • The midday round-up

    December 3, 2012
    Tyler Wilson signs with a high-powered agent. The Ark. Legislative Black Caucus names a leader. State Repubs. name their leaders. And a former Hendrix student continues to get pub for encouraging young people to NOT go to college. /more/
  • Play Brandon Allen

    November 14, 2012
    The distinction between these Razorback footballers and those from a season ago isn't as disparate as the records (9-1 through 10 games last year, 4-6 this time) might indicate. /more/
  • Razorbacks Midseason review

    October 24, 2012
    We've nudged a bit past the true midpoint of 2012, but on the heels of an idle weekend and with a slate of still-meaningful games ahead, Pearls looks back, then looks forward in its quasi-traditional and moderately derisive midseason review. /more/
  • Bad time for a bye week for Hogs

    October 17, 2012
    Leave it to the talented, tormented Razorbacks of 2012 to play their most complete game of the entire season to date in a game that was incomplete. /more/
  • A glimmer of hope for Hogs

    October 10, 2012
    A few happy hours on the ol' Plains at Jordan-Hare Stadium doesn't really constitute a fix, but as Pearls dabbles in crude psychobabble, let's not discount what a 17-point road win in the SEC can mean. /more/
  • More »

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Beau Wilcox

  • Not worthy

    There's something to be said for an Arkansas basketball team that spends two-and-a-half games looking like quitters before rising off the mat.
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Another disaster

    I swear, y'all, I am trying like hell to come up with a new angle on this tragicomic mess called Arkansas basketball. But every week presents the same dichotomy, and the past few days just qualifies as flat-out bewildering.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Skeptical about Anderson

    Consider yourselves lucky, Hog fans. Most teams that manage to play about five quality minutes out of 80 in a two-game week don't end up fortunate enough to forge a split like Arkansas did in its latest two road games.
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • "Nasty Woman" at HSU: 32 artists celebrate Women's History Month

    A photograph of a woman doing a headstand so you can see her red underpants. A sculpture by Robyn Horn titled "Approaching Collapse." Those and other works that assistant professor of photography Margo Duvall says "celebrates the female voice in art" for Women's History Month go on exhibit March 1 in the gallery in the Russell Fine Arts Building.
  • Home again

    The plan, formulated months ago, was this: Ellen and I were going to go to Washington for inauguration festivities, then fly out the morning after the balls for Panama City and a long planned cruise to begin with a Panama Canal passage.
  • Who needs courts?

    Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
  • Bungling

    If the late, great Donald Westlake had written spy thrillers instead of crime capers, they'd read a lot like the opening weeks of the Trump administration.
  • UPDATE: Campus carry bill amended by Senate to require training

    The Senate this morning added an amendment to Rep. Charlie Collins campus carry bill that incorporates the effort denied in committee yesterday to require a 16-hour additional training period before university staff members with concealed carry permits may take the weapons on campus.

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • Not worthy

    There's something to be said for an Arkansas basketball team that spends two-and-a-half games looking like quitters before rising off the mat.
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Another disaster

    I swear, y'all, I am trying like hell to come up with a new angle on this tragicomic mess called Arkansas basketball. But every week presents the same dichotomy, and the past few days just qualifies as flat-out bewildering.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Skeptical about Anderson

    Consider yourselves lucky, Hog fans. Most teams that manage to play about five quality minutes out of 80 in a two-game week don't end up fortunate enough to forge a split like Arkansas did in its latest two road games.
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Charlie Wilson at Verizon Arena

    • Thanks for sharing more information about "DADDY ISSUES, VEGAS VERDES". I will see see this…

    • on February 16, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation