Sports Column: JR and Henry spot a con game | Rock Candy

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sports Column: JR and Henry spot a con game

Posted on Mon, May 22, 2006 at 9:43 AM

J.R. and Henry: So Dark the Con of Man

This weekend, "The DaVinci Code" arrived on the big screen. The film adaptation of Dan Brown’s controversial and poorly written novel is here. We’ve read the book and while the story is far-fetched to the point of being closer to J.R.R. Tolkein’s "Lord of the Rings" trilogy than it is to the truth, it wasn’t boring.

It’s been amusing listening to all of the publicity surrounding the book and the film, which opened to very poor reviews, yet had staggering box-office numbers of the weekend ($77 million in the U.S. alone; take that, Tom Cruise). We’ve also been amazed at the amount of spin that has come from both liberal and conservative religious organizations about the veracity of Brown’s tale. While we think it’s all an absurd exercise over a book written by a guy who also wrote a book called “Digital Fortress,” it hasn’t been boring. And Tom Hanks sports a mullet in the movie, so how bad could it be?

While we expected to spend our Friday contemplating whether to see this film with all the madness (not to mention its length), we awoke to a day we knew would not be boring, and not because this silly book finally arrived on the big screen.

Hopefully you all read the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Sports section on Friday. Bob Holt, who replaced Scott Cain on the Razorback football beat when Hog coach Houston Nutt got mad at Cain and began giving him the ol’ silent treatment, wrote an article about rumors that new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn tried to resign last week because he hasn’t been given total control of the offense.  This is the stuff of high comedy that we miss when Wally Hall takes the day off. 

First, let us say that we’re absolutely shocked that such rumors would find their way on to message boards and call-in shows. Houston Nutt hasn’t done a very good job of hiding his disdain for having to hire an offensive coordinator, what with the three week delay after the end of the superb 4-7 season. Nutt has also told us time and again how sweet his own offensive system is. We know you called some great plays against Ole Miss, coach. We know. 

Furthermore, we know that issues arose during spring practice about the offense, particularly related to defensive coordinator Reggie Herring’s use of the blitz. We know that during the past few seasons, quarterback coach Roy Wittke and line coach Mike Markuson clashed over the offense. And we know that Markuson has expressed concerns about the blocking schemes associated with Malzahn’s system. 

We can’t confirm any of things we know, and we’re not trying to justify our belief here.  Rather, we’re taking a long hard look at the program, the things people say openly, the things people say privately, and how the football program responds to both the things they say are rumors and the things we know are facts. Therein lies the truth. 

What’s peculiar is that if these latest rumors were so off-base, why respond? What’s the point? All you do is spawn more conversation (we were all set to write about Travs manager Ty Boykin) and more commentary on the message boards and call-in shows.

You only swing at the pitches you think you can hit. If this rumor were as “insane” as Jim Lindsey described, then why swing? If there had been a no comment or a press release from an associate athletic director, wouldn’t this have been treated with very little fanfare by the mainstream media? Probably, unless there is some truth to it.

That said, you think they would have come up with a better spin tactic before going to the press. 

We almost spit out our Cheerios when we read the following comment from Lindsey, “I don’t know how rumors like this get started, but I think it’s somebody who’s trying to undermine the program.” Undermine the program?  Does Lindsey really expect people to believe that there’s a covert operation to bring down (how much further down can it go?) the Razorback football program? Somebody call Encyclopedia Brown.

According to UA athletic director Frank Broyles, he’s been told that at certain schools, he won’t tell us who, of course, “the alumni put out rumors to damage their archrival to try and disrupt their recruiting and their coaching. It’s the latest thing.” 

Damn, those ASU Indians sure are crafty. After that bowl appearance, they’re gunning for the big boys with super-double-secret smear campaigns sought to disrupt the good relations in Fayetteville. The coaches are going on a float trip, after all. As we said before, we’ll never know for certain what happened. That’s not the point. The point is that these comments struck close enough to home that the Razorback sports information department paraded out the head coach, the offensive coordinator, the athletic director and a member of the board of trustees all to deny these rumors.

It’s doesn’t take a symbologist, a cryptologist or even a hymnologist to determine that, based on that alone, there’s more to this story that what we read in Friday’s Democrat-Gazette.

J.R. and Henry write this column on this blog twice a week.



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