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Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category


Posted by Adam Butler on September 19, 2011

Posted in Commentary | Comments Off on test

To Our Readers

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 18, 2011 will undergo some maintenance tomorrow, Monday September 19 beginning at 6:00am and lasting roughly 24 hours. While our site will be visible we will not be able to add new content until Tuesday. Please take time to check out some of our older posts while we get ready for Bama Week. We have plenty in store for you.

Brett, Adam, and Jeff

Posted in Commentary | 2 Comments »

Pulaski Academy Bruins Receive National Publicity on

Posted by Adam Butler on September 16, 2011

The Pulaski Academy (Little Rock) Bruins are once again receiving national attention for their head coach, Kevin Kelley’s extremely unconventional football philosophy, which helped P.A. jump out to a 29-0 lead over Cabot last week before the Panthers ran a play from scrimmage. PA eventually won 64-34 in a “remarkably close” (SI’s words, not mine) game after the initial outburst.

The funny thing about Kelley: He’s not a mad scientist or an iconoclast, zigging where everyone else is zagging, for the hell of it. Rather, he’s a relentlessly rational sort whose methods have backing in data.

The decision not to punt? According to Kelley’s statistics, when a team punts from near its end zone, the opponent will take possession inside the 40-yard line and will then score a touchdown 77 percent of the time. If it recovers on downs inside the 10, it will score a touchdown 92 percent of the time. “So [forsaking] a punt, you give your offense a chance to stay on the field,” he said. “And if you miss, the odds of the other team scoring only increase 15 percent. It’s like someone said, ‘[Punting] is what you do on fourth down,’ and everyone did it without asking why.”

That’s all good and fine, but what I do not understand, and have never heard a valid explanation for, is why Kelley continues to opt for onside kicks and deep passes late in games (often with starters) in which his team has built a clearly insurmountable 30 or 40-point lead–just as it did against Cabot  (although the decisions were not mentioned in the article).

Posted in Commentary, Sports | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

War(y) Damn Eagle–Lovers

Posted by Adam Butler on September 15, 2011

Strangely, this sign is neither an official nor unofficial live mascot of the Auburn Tigers

As we relayed Monday, “Spirit” the Eagle, Auburn’s flying mascot (despite the fact they’re the Tigers), had a little run in with a window at Jordan-Hare Stadium last Saturday. Now, on cue, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is squawking.

Chuck, BlogHawgs Stat Front Man, Brain, called that PETA letter, and it was a good call, brutha.

UPDATE: Sources indicate the cost of construction of an eagle sanctuary would require several $180,000 dollar donations.

Posted in Commentary, Sports | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

BlogHawgs Week 3 College Football Preview–Twitter Style

Posted by Adam Butler on September 15, 2011

It’s Thursday afternoon, so that means it’s time to devote our full attention to this weekend’s college football slate (NOTE: Bama Week starts Saturday night at about 10 PM, so we will begin devoting our full attention to Bama at 10:31 p.m.).

And, per the usual, there are plenty of interesting games (READ:  I am obsessed.). Unfortunately, though, in reality it’s just a “so-so” week of games, leading me to try something new this week. Rather than picking 4-5 big games and breaking them down, I thought I would list several, and comment on them in 140 characters or less, Twitter style, using obnoxious, fake (but probably already taken) Twitter user names.

But, since I don’t even have a Twitter account, and I am only vaguely familiar with hash tags (#stubbornlystuckinthedarkages) it will undoubtedly be an adventure. Nonetheless, here goes:

LSU at Mississippi St. @morecowbell: MSU wins unless Mullen again channels his inner The Mississippi Coach, again. #2.65milpershouldincludeclockmanagement

Ohio St. at Miami: @ncaacheats: THE Willful Ignorance Bowl–The Tatts beat The Rats. #bowlban

Mississippi at Vandy: @excusesrlikeHDN: It’s hard work getting one of these, ya’ll!!! Seriously! #winsoverVandy

Michigan St. at Notre Dame: @coachescardio: A battle between a coach who had a heart attack last year after this game and another who is on pace for one after this year’s game. #BayerAspirin

Auburn @ Clemson: @h8troopertaylor: Maybe deals with the devil don’t expire after all. #charmed9lives

Tennessee @ Florida: @wishitwas1998: How did Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey each  get 7 years of eligibility? #leavealready

Navy @ USCE: @dontsleeponnavy: 22 Men go out on the field, 11……points is a good tease. #notgoingthere

OU @ FSU: @snapntoslmjimbo: Winner gets an SEC invitation. #ifyourescaredbuyadog (Tm DP Show)

Troy @ Arkansas: @isitBamawkyet?: No cupcake, but expect a cover. #welcomebackDJ


Thanks for reading.

Posted in Commentary | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

The Idiot Box – Emmy Preview

Posted by Jeff on September 14, 2011

It is almost Christmas time for TV Junkies…  Emmy Awards and Fall Premieres.  This week I am going to break down the Emmys.  Next week my annual column about what I am looking forward to in the fall.  Here we go!
Not a lot of surprises in the nominations this year.  Conan got one in its first year on TBS.  Conan is good but not as good as when he was on at 11:35 (CDT).  I think the Emmy voters just wanted Jay Leno to see who they really support.  (Like it was some secret.  Jay knows he’s hated.  He dries his eyes with the $100 bills he rakes up.)

An Emmy to top off a long, brilliant career?

Betty White got a Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy nod for TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland.  This is just a tip of the hat to White.  Her show’s jokes are as old as she is.  What a waste of talent.  This is a cast of very talented female comediennes.  HIC was as much a vehicle for the Snickers-Commercial-hot White as anything.  Jane Leeves (Frasier) and Wendie Malick (Dream On! And Just Shoot Me) have been so much funnier on TV.  Kristen Wiig got a surprising nomination here as well for SNL.  Most Saturday Night Live Actors are ignored by the Emmys.

Modern Family will dominate again this year. Seventeen nominations went out to the ABC sitcom – four of which are in the same category. Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O’Neill and Eric Stonestreet (who won this last year) are all nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy. Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen were also nominated in the Actress category. The fact that every actor and actress other than the kids was nominated ought to wrap up why Modern Family is the best comedy on television. The question is not if they win but who will win.

Lots of trophies going home with the cast of Modern Family.

I’ve never hidden my delight in the fact that SNL is having a great decade.  As I mentioned above, Kristen Wiig is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy.  On top of that, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Timberlake were both nominated for their guest roles as host.  Timberlake relishes his time on SNL.  He truly is amazing on the show.  I foresee him giving Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin runs for their money as long-serving hosts.  Wiig is by far the funniest cast member to come along since Will Ferrell.  Every character she creates (except the detestable Gilly) is unique and hilarious.  I would love to see her win an Emmy.  I’d also like to see SNL win but it won’t.  My money is on Jon Stewart but I’d be thrilled if Late Night with Jimmy Fallon won.  If you haven’t seen this show, you need to.  Fallon works.  He is getting better and better and Executive Producer Lorne Michaels has surrounded him with talent and genius writing.  Hit Hulu or YouTube to see either of his rapping sketches with Justin Timberlake or any of his Thank You Note bits.  Funny.

I am once again getting weary of most reality shows.  I watched Top Chef again this year but I am afraid it didn’t have the zing to win the Emmy again.  It was nice to see Richard Blais win though.  I just can’t get into drama right now.  Last year I shared my desire to start watching The Good Wife but I just didn’t.  The only drama I watch now is In Plain Sight on USA.  No nominations for them so…  I guess I’ll just be happy if some of my favorite actors win.

Well Adam and Brett have their Free Money.  Here’s mine.  Good luck in Vegas.

(I am only posting the biggies)

Outstanding Drama Series
Should Win: Boardwalk Empire
Will win: Mad Men

(BK loves Boardwalk.  That’s why I put them here.)

Outstanding Comedy Series
Should Win: Modern Family

Will win: Modern Family
(See above.)

Outstanding Actress in a Drama
Should Win: Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
Will Win: Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
(Bates is good but she’s becoming pretty predictable.)

Outstanding Actor in a Drama
Should Win: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Will win:  John Hamm, Mad Men
(I don’t think Emmy voters watch dramas anymore either.)

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy
Should Win:  Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Will Win:  Tina Fey, 30 Rock
(Fey must send $100 bills in her Christmas Cards.)

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy
Should Win:   Sofia Vergara, Modern Family or Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Will Win: Betty White, Hot In Cleveland
(White will be honored for decades of hilarity.)

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy
Should Win: Steve Carrell, The Office
Will win: Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

(Parsons was consistently funnier but Carrell has been nominated 6 times and never won.  That’s a travesty that the Emmys will fix.)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy
Should Win:  Ed O’Neill, Modern Family  or  Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Will Win:  Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
(With too many choices from one show, lazy voters will go with last year’s winner.  O’Neill has never won an Emmy or a Golden Globe as an individual actor.)

Outstanding Variety, Comedy Or Musical Series
Should Win:  Late Night With Jimmy Fallon  or  Saturday Night Live

Will Win:  The Daily Show With Jon Stewart

(Did you know that SNL has the most Emmy Nominations (142) ever?  ER is second with 124.)

Outstanding Reality Show
Should Win: Top Chef

Will win:  The Amazing Race
(See above)

Want to play TV Scene It? I'll win.

Posted in Commentary, Entertainment | 18 Comments »

OU, Ok St. to Apply for Pac 12 Admission?

Posted by Adam Butler on September 13, 2011


Reports have surfaced today that indicate the Big 12 Death Knell will soon be ringing. Those same reports also indicate Texas went begging, but Boomer Sooner was having none of it.

Texas president Bill Powers and athletic directors DeLoss Dodds and Chris Plonsky flew to OU on Sunday, but, according to sources, Oklahoma and its board of regents had already made their determination.

“There’s nothing Texas could have offered Oklahoma that would have changed their mind,” the source told the Statesman. “They were set on leaving the Big 12 before Texas got there.“The Big 12’s done. Oklahoma wasn’t open to creating Big 12 stability.”
What does this mean?
A. Texas went “All In” with the Longhorn Network on  a draw; and
B. The College Football landcape is about to change drastically.
Greed seems to have gotten the better of Texas. It had a great setup in the Big 12, but rather than count its lucky stars that the Longhorns’ Big 12 minions were willing keep the terribly inequitably conference together last season when the departure of Nebraska and Colorado nearly resulted in the league’s implosion, Texas decided it wanted to have its cake and eat it, too (again).
This time, the conference’s other superpower (OU) and its step brother (Ok. State) apparently had finally had enough once Texas A&M (re)broke (is that a word?) the conference dissolution seal.
Does this really mean that Texas’ “options” are the Big 12 ( soon-to-be kaput), Pac 12, ACC or  becoming an independent? Do any of them sound even remotely as cushy as the setup Texas has enjoyed for years in the Big 12 ?
Now, the Oklahoma schools allegedly have no guarantee of an offer from the Pac 12, but presumably have  the SEC salivating with the thought of adding Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and School X (from the East).
Don’t scoff at the notion. The SEC certainly isn’t going to sit around idly and relinquish college football supremacy to a bunch of Left Coasters and Big 12 nomads.

Posted in Commentary | Comments Off on OU, Ok St. to Apply for Pac 12 Admission?

10 Years

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 11, 2011

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment »

One For the Road–9/9/11

Posted by Adam Butler on September 9, 2011

It’s been a solid, workmanlike performance this week at, sorta like the Hogs’ 51-7 drubbing of Missouri State last Saturday in Fayetteville.

The Razorbacks travel to the Rock this week for The World’s Largest Semi-Annual Redneck Keg Party. A team from New Mexico will play the role of sacrificial lamb. Catch it on ESPNU beginning at 6 p.m. if you are not one of the 90,000 people in and around War Memorial Stadium in just over 24 hours.

If I knew how to use Twitter, and stadium internet/phone service was more reliable than someone who is really unreliable, I might post mildly-interesting riffs about the game/party. But, I don’t and it won’t be, so, instead, I have compiled few of our more popular stories from this week:

Razorback Rewind–Week 1

Farmers’ Flight

BlogHawgs’ Heisman 5+1–Week 1

Baylor Kicking & Screaming

Free Money–Week 2

A Little Parking Perspective for Blog Lurkers

I Hope Sean Salisbury Sees This

FINALLY–A Documentary on Memphis Wrasslin’.

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment »

FINALLY–A Documentary on Memphis Wrasslin’.

Posted by Adam Butler on September 9, 2011

If this article doesn’t bring back fond memories, then, well, you aren’t ain’t from Northeast Arkansas.

One issue I have with the article: I can’t believe the documenteary didn’t hit on TV’s original wardrobe malfunction–when Austin Idol slammed Jerry The King Lawler into a “steel turnbuckle” at The Mid South Coliseum while The King was in…let’s just say, an awkward position, leading to a rip in the lower portion of his singlet and, ultimately, the need for a black dot on the TV to protect the innocent..

Otherwise, this is a great piece. I hope Santa puts the movie in my stocking.

Thanks to Memphis Wrasslin’ Fans’ Front Man, and BlogHawgs stalwart,  Bret With One T (BWOT), for this find.

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment »

A Little Parking Perspective for Blog Lurkers

Posted by Jeff on September 9, 2011

Word has come out that Cary Arsaga is going to open a new shop on Dickson Street.  The newest Arsaga’s will be in the spot where a hookah lounge (whatever the heck that is) was.  It is in the old train depot right behind a brand new Chipotle.

This is interesting news for several reasons.  As many of you heard in previous NWC Reports, Fayetteville implemented paid parking just over a year ago.  Since then local blogs have been churning with doomsday predictions of business failures and idle, ridiculous threats:  (“I’ll never go to Dickson Street again!!”)  Well, the city recently analyzed revenue data from Dickson Street businesses and found that their tax collection was actually up by 6%.  Interesting.

The old Kosmos. The new one is in the former Arby's location on College.

Still, mostly anonymous blog comments point out the business closures on Dickson.  Their favorites are  Kosmos Greekafe and Geno’s Pizza.  First, let me be clear.  Neither of these businesses failed.  They both have reopened in new locations, off Dickson Street.  The lurkers (people who lurk about blogs and jab little drive-by comments in order to rouse rabble) also point to Feltner Brothers (who have also opened a location on College but have maintained their original location behind the Walton Arts Center lot) and Grubs (which opened a new location in the old O’Charley’s near Target.)  Not sure if the Feltner boys will keep their original doors open.  It’s wait and see for them.  Rick Reilly’s favorite sports bar must certainly have been spooked by the city’s proposal to expand the Walton Arts Center into their ground.  So they probably wanted to get ahead of anything the WAC or the city has in mind.

Grubs Uptown by Target

Let’s break this down.  Kosmos is great food.  Great.  Best Greek in Fayetteville in my opinion.  But their location was awful.  It was hard to find a reasonably close spot before paid parking.  And when the lot in front of Campus Book Store became a paid lot, well, you do the math.  Geno’s parking was even worse.  They had two or three parallels right in front but that’s it.  I’m not a huge fan of Geno’s pies.  I am sure if I was a 21 year old leaving Dickson late at night, it would be incredible but I’m over 40 and my taste buds require better.  I do certainly wish them well in their new location (Across from Walmart on MLK Blvd in the old Westside Liquor building) but I’m not going to travel out there to get pizza unless it’s Ye Olde King Pizza which is just past them by a block.

And what about this?  Chipotle is a hot, well-known, national chain.  They have lots of people being paid lots of money to research where to place new locations.  They opened well after the paid-parking started.  Apparently they are sure of their product and not worried about it.

Best coffee in NWA. Says ME. That's who!

But they are gigantic chain, you say?  They can take a risk like this? That brings me back to Cary Arsaga?  He’s a good, local businessman that was actually trying to downsize.  (He sold his two largest locations to an employee two years ago.)  And yet, he sees an opportunity to invest money in a beautiful, old building on a flagship street in Fayetteville?  Even though he’d be competing with the second most well-known Fayetteville coffee shop (Common Grounds)?  And his customers would have to pay to park after 2:00?

Maybe the paid parking is working.  Maybe the plan to build a parking deck is a good one (unless you own Grubs which is where it might land.)  It could be worse.  The last time I was in Little Rock, I paid $5 for two hours by the River Market.  Five bucks gets you all day and night on Dickson.
Perspective, friends.  Stop lurking and go eat on Dickson.  It’s not that bad.

Posted in Commentary, Entertainment | 7 Comments »

BlogHawgs’ NFL Fantasy Football Draft Recap

Posted by Adam Butler on September 6, 2011

So, BK, Jeff and I are in a Fantasy Football League (The Armchair Roman Numerals I Don’t Know League) for the 42nd consecutive year, and, as usual, I have the best team and will finish with a handful of wins. My team is so much better than BK’s and Jeff’s that I am almost embarrassed. Almost. Check it:

AB’s Team:

QBs–Roethlisberger, Bradford, McNabb;

RBs–Jamaal Charles, DMac, Ryan Mathews, Michael Bush, Thomas Jones;

WRs–Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Wallace, Santonio Holmes, Ochocinco, Roy Williams;


D/STs–Jets, Chargers;


BK’s Team:

QBs–Brees, Mark Sanchez;

RBs–Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram, Marshawn Lynch, CJ Spiller, Jerome Harrison;

WRs–Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker, Pierre Garcon, Mike Sims-Walker, Jordy Nelson;

TEs–Owen Daniels, Chris Cooley;


Ks–Jason Hanson;

Jeff’s Team:

QBs–Matt Schaub, Eli Manning;

RBs–LeSean McCoy, DeAngelo Williams, Tim Hightower, Pierre Thomas;

WRs–Roddy White, Dez Bryant, Sidney Rice, Lance Moore, Jerome Simpson;

TEs–Greg Olsen, Dallas Clark;

D/STs–Ravens, Falcons;

Ks–Rackers; Gostkowski;

Posted in Commentary | 3 Comments »

One for the Road

Posted by Brett Kincaid on September 2, 2011

It’s been another big week here at, and we thank you for making us part of your routine.  Football season is upon us, and judging by the work productivity I’ve noticed today everyone has mentally checked out for the holiday weekend.  Arkansas kicks off against Missouri State tomorrow night at 6:05 in Fayetteville at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.  If you’re not heading to The Hill you can watch the game via PPV for $34.95.  Follow us on Twitter for updates from around college football tomorrow and of course during the Hogs game tomorrow night.

Here are a few of our more popular stories from this week.

The Football Binge Survival Guide

ESPN’s Rick Reilly Picks Arkansas to Win National Title

Evaluating the SEC East

Evaluating the SEC West

Red Swarm – 2011 Arkansas Defensive Preview

Proving Its Points – 2011 Arkansas Offensive Preview

Free Money

2011 SEC Predictions


This week’s One for the Road comes in video form.  With excitement for a new football season at the boiling point, we wanted to take a stroll through the 2010 season one last time.  These are some YouTube videos cataloging some of the Arkansas Razorbacks highlights from a season that ended in New Orleans.  Here’s hoping they head back to The Big Easy this winter.

Have a great weekend and GO HOGS!




Posted in Commentary, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

ESP*I*N…The Worldwide Leader in Thwarts

Posted by Adam Butler on September 1, 2011

the thwarting of real opinions and ideas (as opposed to contrived, cookie-cutter, “opinion driven* morning/game shows) that is.

Longtime ESPN writer Bruce Feldman took to the airwaves today on Dan Patrick’s well-listened-to national radio show and detailed his exit from ESPN (Audio is currently here along with the link to the post atop the DP front page). (@ Yahoo Sports) also provided a solid rundown of the situation this summer.

Per the usual, ESPN appears to be much more about an agenda (printing money and dominating the world of $ports Media) than journalism.

Bunk like this pushes me closer and closer to a boycott of everything on ESPN but actual games. Can it be done? You underestimate the power of the Darkside.

Posted in Commentary, Sports | 4 Comments »

Texas A&M Officially Announces Its Intention to Leave Big 12

Posted by Adam Butler on August 31, 2011


We have been all over this, (no, REALLY) and now, after the requisite behind-the-scenes mechanations, the Aggies are leaving for the greener pastures of the SEC, effective June 30, 2012.

The last part hasn’t been announced, yet, because Texas A&M and the SEC want to retain some (not so) plausible deniability. But,as we have maintained throughout, there is no way TAMU makes this move without a wink and a nod from the SEC.

Posted in Commentary, Sports | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Texas A&M Officially Announces Its Intention to Leave Big 12

My Day Away

Posted by Jeff on August 31, 2011

It all started with what I thought was an innocuous comment.  It was another 100+ degree day.  I was sad that we were not able to take a vacation this summer.  And I kept hearing commercials for local casinos offering getaway packages.  I said, “I need a day away.”  That’s it. I was just thinking about how nice it would be if there was a little mini-resort somewhere near here that had waiters that would bring me food and drink.  Maybe some good TV or a movie.  Whatever.  Just a complete distraction from worries and the summer doldrums.

So the bitterest among you (Adam) may be wondering why a school teacher in the middle of summer break really needs a day away from it all.  Fair question.  Some details: My parents have moved to Arkansas from Iowa.  They are currently living in my basement.  It has been good for the most part.  I certainly have gotten to know them even better than I did before.  Apparently 41 years is not enough to really get to know a family member.  You need to be separate from them for 23 years and then live with them again.  That opens up new discussions.  Mom and dad moved from a small town in Iowa and sold the house they lived in for 39 years.  The amount they sold it for is great for this economy and that town.  It’s not great for finding a decent house in a nice neighborhood in or around Fayetteville.  (Stupid Streets of Gold.)  They’re still shopping.

Also factor in my job change.  After 16 years in Bentonville I crossed 540 to Rogers High School.  It’s a great opportunity for me to get a foot in a new door.  However the concern of taking a new job after all that time set in for me in June and with a couple months off to stew about it, I was having trouble keeping my mind clear.  After making up nine snow days and the legislature moving the allowable start date for schools in Arkansas to August 15th, my lone fringe benefit was quickly sliding away.

A day away.  Just wanted one.  Cue the wonderful wife.  On a Thursday, MeMe told me I needed to clear my schedule for Friday.  I was a little surprised and curious.  That morning she told me to get in my car and follow her.  Yes ma’am.  She took me to a luxury apartment in north Fayetteville.  I really had no idea what was happening.  When we got there she had breakfast for me.  Two donuts from Rick’s and a coffee from Arsaga’s.  We went in the apartment and the table was covered with newspapers, magazines, and snacks.  In fact, I was later told that one of the magazines (Hooten’s) was suggested by BK.  It seems my wife decided to ask some friends what I might like to do on a day away.  Good call, BK.  I had not yet picked up Hooten’s.  Next she showed me a well-stocked fridge with all of my favorites in it and she informed me that she’d be back at noon with lunch.

Then she left.  I turned on the TV, grabbed the paper and happily munched on donuts and coffee.  I was a little shocked at what all she had done to prepare for this but instead of arguing about the silliness and excess of it all, I decided to take advantage.  I clicked on the Today Show, read the fish wraps until my fingers were inky black and downed my coffee.  After that I read about the Hogs, and the 7A West.  And then at noon, Slim Chickens arrived.  The day just kept getting better.  When it was 5 o’clock somewhere I headed to the fridge.  And when MeMe came back, I told her that my day away had been perfect and took her out for some sushi.

A day away.  No kids.  No parents.  Just a man trying to clear his mind with some simple pleasures.  All provided by a great wife.  It was fun.  I strongly recommend that you try it.  My wife is not available for catering though.  Sorry.

Posted in Commentary | 6 Comments »

Red Swarm–2011 Arkansas Defensive Preview

Posted by Adam Butler on August 31, 2011

Defense Wins Championships.

Saying that phrase is cliché’ is like suggesting “Throwing someone under the bus” and “Jumping the Shark” have, well, Jumped the Shark. But, like most oft-used expressions–it’s true.

Contrary to popular belief, last year proved the point. Yes, Auburn and Oregon averaged 42 and 49 points per game, respectively, but it was the Tigers’ sometimes suspect defense that brought home the hardware, holding The Ducks 30 points below their season average on the way to the BCS championship.

The good news for Arkansas is that after being downright offensive when head coach Bobby Petrino and defensive coordinator Willy Robinson took over in 2008, the Razorbacks defense has the swagger and talent to be one of the best units in the nation.

Dismiss the thought as blatant homerism if you must but consider: Arkansas returns 7 starters from a defense that was the SEC leader in 3rd down conversion percentage (8th in the nation) second in the SEC in sacks (2.85) (12th in the nation) 3rd in the SEC tackles for loss, (7.31)(13th in nation) and 20th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game.

While stats can admittedly be deceiving, peers and pundits can often be a good talent barometer, too. . And, for the first time in a long time, they have forecast thunder and lightning from the Razorbacks defense as six different Razorback defenders have been named to either the AP or Coaches All-SEC teams. (DE Jake Bequette, LB Jerry Franklin, safety Tramain Thomas, defensive end Tenarius Wright and linebacker Jerico Nelson).

Interestingly though, two guys who aren’t on either list–JUCO defensive tackle transfer Robert Thomas and blue-chip cornerback turned occasional enigma Darius Winston–may be the key to Arkansas’ defense climbing from good to great. (SEE BELOW)

Rather than provide a position-by-position, 3-deep breakdown of the defense I have instead limited my analysis to a more reader-friendly format. You can thank me later.

Arkansas’ Defense Will be Dominant If…..

JUCO transfer Robert Thomas is as good as advertised. Yes, I have been guilty in the past of over-hyping physically freakish JUCO transfers in this space. The name Anthony Leon comes to mind. But Thomas seems different. Longtime observers of Arkansas practice–guys that can unblinkingly be dubbed experts in the field of Razorback football–have emerged from Fall practices touting Thomas as not only a great player–but the best player on the Arkansas roster.

If Thomas “merely” produces well enough to make the postseason All-SEC lists, Arkansas should have one of the Top 20 overall defenses in the country. If–as some trained, but typically conservative observers think–he is a SEC Defensive Player of the Year caliber talent, then the Arkansas defense could be one of the best in the country–the type that goes on the road in the SEC in hostile venues and emerges with wins.

Arkansas’ Defense Will Be a Disappointment If…..

It does not continue to develop swagger on the road.

Let’s be honest. Arkansas has enough talent on both sides of the ball (and on special teams) and enough meat on the bone during the middle of the year that it should have another very solid season. But, the true measure of this team will be how it performs during two road trips–Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge–that bookend the SEC season.

If–as Arkansas believes–it has the luxury of having the most interior line depth it has had on campus in many years–the Hogs should be able to stop the run without loading the box (ie bringing an 8th defender close to the line of scrimmage). This would force Bama and LSU to throw the ball down the field to be successful. That is not something that those run-dominant offenses want to do.

The Hogs played well enough and made enough crucial defensive plays to win on the road against a trio of emerging programs last season (USCE, MSU and Texas A&M) and another traditional blue blood (UGA) but spit the bit during two halves (2nd half at Auburn and 1st half of the Sugar Bowl) dredging up old memories of lumbering running backs breaking off career long runs.

To avoid similar dream-ending snafus, the rotating defensive tackle sixtet of Thomas, Byran and Dede Jones, Alfred Davis, Zach Stadther and Lavunce Askew will have to be a force. The good news for Razorback fans is that it should be.

The One Defensive Player Arkansas Can Least Afford to Lose Is…..

linebacker Jerry Franklin.

Franklin has spent time in and out of Head Coach Bobby Petrino’s doghouse during his career at Arkansas. But, in the meantime, he has managed to lead the UA in tackles for 3 straight seasons–a feat that has only been accomplished one other time at Arkansas since 1960.

Franklin won’t wow you with any facet of his game. He isn’t the fastest linebacker you’ve ever seen and he isn’t the hardest hitter you will run across. But, there is something to be said for knowing where you need to be, getting there and making the tackle–even if it’s ugly.

Making Franklin even more indispensable is that during his career he has logged playing time at each of the three linebacker positions and his backups at middle linebacker Terrell Williams and Braylon Mitchell don’t have much SEC experience.

The Player With the Most Potential For Arkansas Fans to Either Love or Hate Is…..

Darius Winston.

Arkansas fans love to hate cornerbacks–even the good ones. Recent examples include Ahmad “Batman” Carroll, Lawrence Richardson and Ramon Broadway. Winston is well on his way to adding his name to this list.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the proverbial light bulb came on at the end of last year for Winston. He was left on an island during the second half of the Sugar Bowl and he availed himself well in both pass coverage and run support (an area where he had been lacking earlier in his career). I expect him to be an asset this season.

Now, though, the question with Winston is whether he can become a consistent force that takes away half of the field. If the answer is no, and he again displays tantalizing glimpses of greatness only to be followed by head-scratching missed assignments, Arkansas fans have shown they will turn on him.

Likewise, if he is perfect 99 times, and gives up 1 deep ball, Arkansas fans will turn on him. So, the moral of the story is that Arkansas fans are going gripe about Winston and any other defensive back that has the audacity to play a very visible position less than perfectly.

That’s why Winston might as well make the leap, live up to his five-star talent, become a early-round NFL draft pick at some point in the future and wonder, on the way between trips to the bank, why Arkansas fans can’t wrap their minds around the fact that cornerbacks aren’t the only players that occasionally get beat by the guy across from them who also happens to be a scholarship SEC athlete.

Arkansas’ Defense Will Put The Razorbacks in Position to Win the SEC West If…..

it gives up fewer than 45 combined points at Alabama and LSU.

If you think that’s a stretch, consider that Arkansas gave up 47 combined to those teams a year ago, and although those games were played in Arkansas, both Alabama and LSU have significant concerns at quarterback.

Bama is relying on a 2-quarterback system with a redshirt freshman (Phillip Sims–no relation to former NFLer and current CBS NFL analyst Phil Simms) and a A.J.McCarron, a guy who was so bad in mop top up duty last year that Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban LITERALLY spanked him on the sidelines.

Meanwhile, in Red Stick, the Tigers will be relying on a would-be 3-year starter that just allegedly hit his first target in years (Jordan Jefferson), a loyal redshirt senior with some experience, albeit mostly of the interception-throwing, character-building variety (Jarrett Lee), and a JUCO transfer who, depending upon whom you ask is either a sexual batterer or a kid who just happened to grope an unwilling women the first time he drank alcohol (Zack Mettenberger).

In other words, neither Bama nor LSU’s offense should be vintage. If the Hogs are going to return to a BCS game and/or contend for the SEC West (and thereby the BCS) title they will have to capitalize by limiting big plays and ending the annual game of “What If?” that Razorback fans seemingly have had to play every time Arkansas has had a chance at a national championship since 1964.

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Madden Day 2012

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 30, 2011

Welcome to my Man Cave

Today is Madden Day 2011, and for the first time I took vacation time to enjoy it.  It’s been a couple of years since I picked up the Gen X male’s essential football game, so I really have no baseline to measure changes and advancements.  I just have to trust EA at their word when they say Madden 2012 is an improved product.

Two things that I immediately wanted to test were the Online Gaming and the Franchise Mode.  Advances in technology and broadband speeds make online gaming far more achievable than I ever imagined.  I played my friend Jermaine this morning, handing him a 17-7 defeat as the Houston Texans over the Carolina Panthers.  I think Jermaine took it easy on me, most obviously by taking Carolina.  Who would do that in their right minds?  It’s Carolina.  I wouldn’t take Carolina in an NCAA game.

Anyway, the gameplay was excellent.  I expected intermittent slow downs and jumps, but everything ran smoothly on my end.  Jermaine blamed a critical interception thrown by Scam Newton on an Internet hiccup, but I don’t know.  I mean, it’s Scam Newton.  The Virtual Cam Newton probably saw a check for $180,000 in the virtual stands and got distracted.

The setup for online play is a bit cumbersome.  Once I figure it out, though, I’m sure it will run much more smoothly.  I am completely incapable of explaining it to you since this was my first time to play any of these games online.  It involves more buttons than the average pair of Levi’s 501 jeans.  I think I could do it again, but I’m not certain.

As for the Franchise Mode, this shows promise.  I am a Texans fan, but I opted to run a franchise with Cleveland.  For some reason I feel like it’s bad juju to play a video game consistently with my favorite team.  If Virtual Matt Schaub separates his shoulder, I’m convinced real life Matt Schaub will certainly do the same.

Selecting the Cleveland Browns allows me the fun of running Peyton Hillis 40 times per game.  One of the first things I noticed about gameplay on Madden 2012 is that you can actually run the football.  The offensive line opens up real holes, creates cutback lanes, and the guards actually pull and make seal blocks on the edge.  That is a huge advancement from some of the earliest iterations of the franchise.

The passing is quick, and I like that.  You cannot sit in the pocket forever, shifting from side-to-side while your receivers get open.  Much like the NFL you only have a couple of seconds to decide where to put the ball.  Players that can read defenses and approach each play with a specific strategy will be rewarded.  If you haven’t put the ball in the air within 3 seconds, you’re toast.

Probably the most welcome change I noticed was the kicking interface.  The complicated timing system of the old version which required using the analog sticks has been trashed.  We’re back to the glory days of the triple-X hit.  Welcome home, old friend.  I missed you.

I’ve only played 3 games thus far, so I have tons to learn.  I can say that it appears to be a very advanced game.  Like many of you, I can easily remember playing Madden on Sega Genesis, then Super Nintendo, then the original PlayStation.  This new version for the PS3 includes features we never even considered back then.  If only it came with a device that made wives encourage their husbands to play the game.  Once we reach that level of sophistication, I think it’ll be time to call the Nobel folks.

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NFL Playoff Predictions

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 25, 2011

Predicting the outcomes of an entire football season in the preseason is actually a pretty dumb idea.  So many things can happen that could make your predictions look foolish by Week Four.  Rarely does someone nail it.  Most of the time you’re lucky to bat .500 at the end of the season.

Luckily for you, I’m dumb enough to do it.

A few things before we get started:

I based much of my predictions on one major component: continuity.  With no OTAs during the off season and a very limited training camp, teams with minimal turnover that played well in 2010 have a greater likelihood to succeed this year relative to any other year.  I know that maxim typically holds true in any season, but I do believe it will be even more relevant this year.

There will be at least one surprise team to make the playoffs in each conference, and at least one team to horribly under perform.  I’ve tried to identify those teams, too.  This year looks to be one where traditional powers continue their rise while mediocre teams continue to struggle.  For traditionalists, this is the year for you.

NFC Picks

East – Philadelphia

North – Green Bay

South – New Orleans

West – Arizona

Wild Card – Atlanta

Wild Card – Dallas

The Eagles did the most to improve their position of any other team.  They’ve solidified their defense and special teams while reinforcing a potent offense.  I expect Michael Vick to contend for league MVP honors this year, too.  Green Bay should be just as powerful offensively this year, and it’s hard to imagine they’d run into as many injury problems in 2011 as they did in 2010.  I certainly think the Packers could be even better than their Super Bowl championship team from a year ago.

Arizona will be the cream of the west.  Let’s not forget that the Cardinals won the NFC just three years ago.  Defying all odds, Ken Whisenhunt has changed the culture in the desert.  New Orleans is loaded on offense, and they have one of the best defensive backfields in football.  They lose some electricity on special teams with the departure of Reggie Bush, but the addition of rookie Mark Ingram will strengthen an already potent running attack.

As the wild cards, they are just that: wild cards.  Atlanta seems like a safe pick here.  Matt Ryan has emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFC, and the addition of Julio Jones at wide receiver really opens that offense.  That leaves us with Dallas.  There isn’t much empirical evidence to suggest that the Cowboys can carve out a 9-10 win season, but all the context around that team leads me to believe it’s their year to return to post-season play.

Two teams stand out that could also challenge for the post-season:  Detroit and Tampa Bay.  The Buccaneers are a young team that really seems to love playing for their coach.  Unfortunately I don’t see enough playmakers on offense that a team needs to win the close games.  Detroit is very similar to Tampa in that regard, but the playmakers they do have are world class.  Calvin Johnson may be the most dynamic big receiver in the game, and their defensive front could be tops in the conference.  If Nick Fairley hadn’t been injured in camp – after getting no reps in the offseason – I may have given them the edge.

Wild Card Round

Atlanta at ARIZONA

Dallas at GREEN BAY

Divisional Round

Arizona at NEW ORLEANS


NFC Championship Game

NEW ORLEANS at Philadelphia


AFC Picks

East – New England

North – Baltimore

South – Houston

West – Oakland

Wild Card – Pittsburgh

Wild Card – Indianapolis

New England has become the gold standard for regular season consistency.  Their division is weaker than most think – I truly believe the Jets are overvalued – and Bill Belicheck has veterans galore.  I expect Chad Johnson to turn in a Pro Bowl season.  Houston has never had a better chance than they do right now.  The rest of the division – including Indianapolis – has more questions than answers.  The Texans defense needs to only show marginal improvement in order to qualify for the post-season for the first time in franchise history.

Baltimore has the feeling of a very special team.  The offense has caught the defense in terms of productivity, and they may actually be better this year.  Joe Flacco has emerged as one of the league’s best at quarterback.  Oakland is a stretch here, but you’ve got to do that while making preseason predictions.  As noted in the AFC preview earlier this week, you simply cannot trust Norv Turner.  San Francisco is a year or two away from true viability, and Kansas City should crash back to earth this year.

Pittsburgh is a no-brainer to make the playoffs this year.  (Why do I fear that sentence will come back to haunt me in January?)  The Steelers may very well edge Baltimore for the division title this year, but for now I’m content to label them a Wild Card team.  Indianapolis was a tough choice here.  Looking at other options in the league, though, I cannot think of a reasonable replacement.  You know my feelings on Norv Turner at San Diego, Cleveland is close but plays in a ridiculously tough division, and the Jets are an overrated football team.  They will contend, but ultimately I’ll take old Peyton Manning and his bionic neck.

Wild Card Round

Indianapolis at HOUSTON


Divisional Round

Houston at NEW ENGLAND

Pittsburgh at BALTIMORE

AFC Championship

New England at BALTIMORE


I have a history of picking teams a year too early.  This applies all across the board, but mostly in the NFL.  Two years ago, I picked Green Bay to win the Super Bowl.  Obviously, they won last year.  Last season I picked Baltimore.  Playing the odds, I’m going back to the well this season.

Super Bowl XLVI

New Orleans v. BALTIMORE

There you go, folks.  Wager accordingly

Posted in Commentary | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Too Live Houston….Banned Into C-USA?

Posted by Adam Butler on August 23, 2011

I am trying to get away from internet karaoke, but I had to share an excellent column today from Jim Harris at ArkansasSports 360 examining the connection between The Mississippi Coach and Nevin Shapiro–the vertically challenged, convicted Ponzi schemer who is at the center of controversy at The U.

I’ll let Mr. Harris’ column speak for itself, but I will say I found myself nodding approval when he pointed out the double standard being applied to the media’s interest in The Mississippi Coach’s (then Arkansas’) 2006-2007 phone records. Mr. Harris is also right in opining that this information should scare “The U”-know-what out of Hurricane fans.

How is Miami going to claim it was unaware of Shapiro and his actions, when he was apparently (according to TMC’s records) one of the go-to guys at Miami, if not THE guy?

Miami fans aren’t the only ones that should be worried. If TMC fails to take Mississippi to a bowl game AGAIN, this year, will he, a guy who is nothing if not a remarkable survivor, be headed to the One Chinstrap League known as Conference USA?

I can just hear his first 2012 pregame speech, now….”Guys, there’s lots (SIC) of Lions and Tigers and Bears, but there’s only one Green Wave!!!! Giggity!”

Posted in Commentary, Sports | 6 Comments »

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