November 25, 2014

‘A’ For Effort

Tuesday night’s Texas game was the most enjoyable Razorback basketball game I’ve attended since around this time last year.  The Hogs played with a lot of heart.  And Texas played like a team that planned all along to escape Bud Walton with a 10-point win.

Rotnei Clarke (AP Photo/April L. Brown)The Longhorns were taller, smoother, longer, there were more of them than us, and they played totally under control the entire game.  Texas center Dexter Pittman and forward Damion James were men among boys.

James had 20 points in 17 minutes, and seemed to be able to score whenever he wanted.  He was easily the best player I’ve seen in person since watching Carmelo Anthony in the 2003 Final Four.

Of course, Tuesday mid-afternoon also brought the news that Courtney Fortson was finally released from banishment into purgatory.  But wasn’t it just on Monday that John Pelphrey sounded somewhat pitiful regarding Fortson’s return?

Pelphrey was asked if he was confident Fortson would return at all this year during today’s press conference.  His answer didn’t sound, well, very confident.

“I don’t know how to answer that,” Pelphrey said. “I would say he has an opportunity to be back.  I think we all would like for him to get back.  Probably a little surprised that we’re here so I can’t really say anything with 100 percent confidence.  I wished I could.  But that probably wouldn’t be a very intelligent thing to say that I’m confident one way or the other.”

In other words: “This is out of my hands and it’s getting old…but I have to keep my mouth shut.”

It seems that with Texas coming to town — and the possibility of being embarrassed again on ESPN (think Baylor) hovering like an Eastern Arkansas funnel cloud on the path between Heber Springs and Jonesboro — whatever sins Fortson had committed could finally be forgiven.

Chris Bahn’s post-game column headline said, “Fortson’s Return Guarantees Nothing, But Provides Hope.”  Actually, though, I think Fortson’s return does “guarantee” something.

Coach Pelphrey now has ‘his team’ on the floor.  It is guaranteed that the fans expectations (a.k.a. “hope”) will increase dramatically.  It is also guaranteed that the pressure on Pelphrey during the SEC season for wins will be even more intense because of those expectations.

Fortson’s return did bring a lot of energy to this team.  The question now…can the Hogs bring that type of energy into the conference schedule?  After wonderful wins over Texas and Oklahoma last year, the Razorbacks lost momentum immediately when the SEC season started.

And with a tough first half conference schedule facing them starting a week from today, the next several games look rocky.

  • Dustin

    I’m totally surprised by your lofty praise for Damion James. I like James. I cannot remember a player having a more efficient game in BWA (20 pts on only 8 FGA) but easily the best player?

    I thought Dexter Pittman was the best player on the court. The Hogs had no answer for him and everytime he was out of the game Arkansas had a much easier time on defense. I also thought James had some easy scoring opportunities because we had to pay so much attention to Pittman.

    I don’t know who you’ve seen in person since ‘Melo (but I can assume you’ve probabaly seen a lot of basketball if you went to the ’03 Final Four) but of the players that have come through BWA since ’03 Joakim Noah, Glen Davis, Tyrus Thomas, Kevin Martin, Ronnie Brewer, Rajon Rondo, Blake Griffin, Willie Warren all rank ahead of James.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would take James in a second but if you’ve seen the amount of basketball that I assume you have then you’ve overrated James.

    • http://www.razorbloggers.net/ HogBlogger

      Good points All of those guys were very good. I think I’ve seen most, but not all, of them in person. I’m not sure I would rank all those above James at all.

      Pittman was excellent. He was impressive.

      James just had something special about him that I haven’t seen that often. Size, movement, control, cool, confidence, elevation on an excellent jump shot and efficiency. He had the ability to score whenever he wanted to against the Hogs defense, Pittman or no Pittman on the floor. He stood out to me in some ways that other really great college players have stood out to me. They do what it takes for the team, not necessarily all they can. They are sneaky good. They’ll carry much more load in tougher games.

      Time will tell if I’ve over-rated him. My eye for these things has been pretty good over time.

      • Dustin

        James will have plenty of opportunities to prove you right this year. Texas will be playing in some huge games. I just think if he the kind of potential your talking about he would’ve shown more of it by now. I hate to be in the position of ripping a fantastic player but I just don’t think he belongs in the category of some of the players that have played in BWA over the last 7 years.

        By my count there 8 current starters (Corey Brewer, Ronnie Brewer, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, Chuck Hayes, Rajon Rondo, David Lee, Kevin Martin) in the NBA that have played in BWA from ’03-’09. I just don’t think James is capable of being a starter in the NBA. I think he’ll be a top 15 pick and be a productive player (if his outside game continues to develop like it has) for a long time.

        Anyway, we’ll see. It’s an interesting discussion to have though.

  • GolfHog

    It did remind me of basketball. One good game hasn’t meant much in this program in years. I have seen very little that shows me that these kids will take coaching or that they care much for their coach. It looks a little like Stan all over again. Of course when they know you have to play them no matter what they are in control. Maybe that is what Long was trying to teach Dudley by benching Fortson. You have to have discipline in team sports or there is no team.

    The team looks better. Dudley still looks lost.

  • T-towner

    This looked like a 500+ SEC team. Hey, I can dream can’t I?

  • Swineherd

    HogBlogger: You give the Hogs an “‘A’ For Effort”: What would have given them if they had won? Then you spend most of your time praising the Texas players. OK, the Hogs did play hard and Texas is good. I agree.

    One thing that cost the Hogs a win was a lull, a scoring drought at the beginning of the second half, a critical time in most basketball games. During that span Texas secured the margin of victory.

    During the Stan Heath era I called it “the patented Razorback slump” because you could always count on Heath’s teams having a five-minute (at least) scoring drought, usually in the second half, of every game. Against good teams, that usually spelled defeat for the Hogs. The drought occurs because the team loses focus and gets out of sync, fails to play fundamentally sound basketball, turns the ball over, takes bad shots, all of it, possession after possession, often failing to even get a shot off before turning it over. It is the coach’s responsibility to recognize when the drought is starting and to get his team back on track. Heath was terrible at that part of the game and Pelphrey isn’t much better. The key to preventing the drought is to hit “reset” and to run your game. It’s better to take a 25-foot shot at the buzzer than to turn it over trying to force something that isn’t there. You have to take what the defense gives you.

    Don’t get me started on defense.

    I hope the coahes and player didn’t give themselves an “A” for coming in second. That’s a great way to ensure a lot of second place finishes and to make sure you never develop the “killer instinct” necessay to become a championship team.

    • http://www.razorbloggers.net/ TipsterHog

      I wrote the headline. Probably not the best one I’ve done.

      • Swineherd

        Forgiven, on account of your past good deeds. Who knew that headlines were written by actual people? I know some of your colleagues in the stream like to pass out grades, probably some anal trait picked up from too many hours in the classroom and not enough in the gym or on the field. And I like to read their grades, whether I agree or no.

        I feel as tho the current edition of Hawgball is still in rehab and not ready to stand in judgement at the moment. Maybe when they get into conference they’ll get their bearings and we can grade them fairly. For now they get an “I.” I must admit they have comported themselves equitably at times, betten than I expected. I predict their number of conference wins this season will be within two games of last year’s conference record.

      • http://www.razorbloggers.net/ TipsterHog

        And at least I didn’t give them an ‘E’ for Effort! ;)

    • http://www.razorbloggers.net/ HogBlogger

      Swine, as Tipster pointed out, not my headline. I’m not big on letter grades. More of a ‘scale of 1 to 10′ kinda guy.

      I feel pretty similar as you about the team. The reason we’ve written very little about basketball has been that there’s been nothing really going on that begged comment. Sort of a different way of “withholding judgement”.

      My point in the paragraph about Texas was that we were outmanned. From top to bottom we are just too short. At one point we had on the floor 5’11”, 6’0″, 6’2″, 6’2″ and 6’9″. Good and tall will usually beat good and short.

      The Hogs played well above what I thought they were capable of to make the game so seemingly close. I’m with you. ‘Better than I expected.’

      Honestly, Texas played a big part of the game on cruise control. One of the reasons their defense was so poor was they were being certain to not have a lot of foul trouble. When they went to make their killer run at about the 5 minute mark the Hogs stood up to it pretty well and surprised them. That was very positive. They played with a lot of heart. I haven’t seen that out of this collective bunch in a while.

      The point in the latter part of the article was that, with Fortson back, those choosing to ‘pass judgement’ are going to get much harsher.

      • Swineherd

        I agree with your approach of not saying much about the team while it is in disarray. No point in kicking ‘em while they’re down.

        And you do have to give the Hogs high marks for effort against Texas. But you can see the results of that intense effort, usually in the second half, when the team just runs out of gas and starts playing sloppy ball. That’s fatigue setting in, mental and physical.

        It happened last year when the team “overachieved” during the non-conference schedule. Overachieving eventually catches up with you, then you hit a wall, a slump, as the Hogs did last year during the conference schedule. Regardless of the sport, a team must learn to play under control, mentally and physically, to achieve consistency and stamina for a long season.

        It’s the coach’s job to recognize when the team is playing out of control, then to slow it down till they regain their composure. I’m not sure Pelphrey knows how to do that. Heath obviously did not.

        Though I don’t want to kick the team while they’re down, I think Pelphrey and the administration are fair game. They can’t claim injuries or grades or youth for their poor performance. At some point they have to stand up and be graded on their accomplishments.

        I would be interested to hear what others think about the lulls or droughts in scoring, and whether they have any solutions to this particular problem that has plagued the Hogs since the last days of Nolan.

  • http://www.thoughts.com/OKOFCOURSE/blog OKOFCOURSE

    I don’t remember very many basketball games that scoring didn’t run in spurts but I agree that our team runs out of gas especially at the start of this season when they only had 5 scholarship players dressed out. As far as Pelphrey claiming poor preformance on injuries or suspensions – I can’t recall him ever making many excuses but rather saying we will and are improving. These excuses being given for this team’s poor preformance are being given by bloggers (myself included), who can now see the improvement, although not great yet, but coming down the road. When you mention the administration, (i.e. Jeff Long etc.), then you have got me really confused because they haven’t said anything what so ever but I think have been calling the suspensions and causing all the uncertainty with no expanation of why, when, or what the problem is.

    If Courtney Fortson had started from the first game this season I think our record would now be 12-3 at the very least. I’m not saying the players should or should not have been suspended (I don’t know the problem) but if Long is in fact calling the shots and not informing us of who suspended who and why, and then at the end of this season fire Pelphrey for a poor job (just to hire Mike Anderson) than I am going to be blogging my ass off for Long being fired himself because he also caused the poor preformance last year when he called in the dogs (the NCAA investigators) about Marcus Monk and got Monk suspended for no legitimate reason which started the tail spin last year in conference play. If we’re grading poor job preformance then let’s start at the top and that’s B. Alan Sugg, then Jeff Long, and then after that we can go after Pelphrey.

    • Swineherd

      Well OK, you’re OffCourse, as usual. Just kidding; that was cheap.

      It’s hard to know how to critique Long and Sugg when their actions are secretive. And with personnel matters they can always claim they were protecting the privacy rights of players, especially when health (medical treatments) or academics (grades) are concerned.

      I have raised doubts about Long before, but my concerns are based on personal perceptions and I don’t have the resources to substantiate them. You would need to live in or near Fayetteville so you could get access to records, through FOIA if necessary, and to ask the hard questions, questions that are not being raised now. It was that kind of work that eventually uprooted HDN.

      I don’t know how you get rid of Sugg, other than through the BOT, and they don’t like change of any kind. Long is another matter. I think the sportswriters in NWA need to start scrutinizing him more carefully than they have in the past. Because he was rumored to be a contender for the AD position in Michigan, I think the critics took a wait-and-see approach to Long. Now that position has been filled, and we are stuck with him for the foreseeable future. Perhaps the writers will get restless, get curious. I will not wait for that with bated breath.

      I sense there is a lot of unease about Long among the Hog faithful, but nobody seems able or willing to articulate exactly what it is about him that is troubling. Actually Long and others are part of a culture in the administration of Razorbacks athletics, a culture that demands conformity of its players and coaches, a culture that prizes conformity over performance, a culture that has led to the decline of Razorback Sports.

      That culture of conformity extends to the media as well. Sportswriters don’t want to rock the boat because negative comments can restrict access to all but the most routine information. Until somebody comes along with the power to change that culture from within, it will endure. There will be good teams, good coaches and players from time to time, but the overall program, Razorbacks Sports, will not reach anything near its potential.

      OK, of course I agree with you.

  • http://www.thoughts.com/OKOFCOURSE/blog OKOFCOURSE

    Then I will try to explain my unease with Jeff Long. First, he does not know Arkansas, anything about the Hogs, the state’s relationship with them, the powerful influence they have, the dependence on them for entertainment the state has, or to some residents maybe even their happiness.

    Second, he is destroying the fan base (by raising the ticket prices) which is the greatest strength of the Hogs. He is doing this because he wants to build a basketball practice facility which we don’t need or want so “the school” can have concerts there and “get” money from the students, who have the least money of anyone in Fayetteville. The school will only get a small percentage of the pay out and the rest will leave town in the saddle bags of some drug addicted Rock Group who probably only need it to feed their habit.

    Third, Jeff Long and B. Alan Sugg must actually believe that the Hogs can compete with the Tennessees, Alabamas and Floridas financially (Well,I guess they do because that’s why they are raising ticket prices and building “practice facilities”). That has got to be the dumbest idea I have ever heard. Arkansas is so small a school compared to the rest of the SEC that just to compete with them is a miracle and to believe that we can compete finacially with them is a pathatic “pipe dream”. The only way we ever could compete in the first place is the incredible fan base which they are destroying, and very wise leadership (Frank Broyles) who they never listen to or ask for advice.

    • Swineherd

      OKOC: Since the headline of this thread is about grades, I give your reply an “A.” Way better than OK. Ya done good.

      I think your point about Long not knowing Arkansas fans is probably correct. I also raised the issue about ticket prices for students to basketball games a few weeks ago. That has been an enduring problem, in my view, since the construction of Bud Walton.

      The basketball practice facility doesn’t sound like a bad idea in itself; it’s the manner of paying for it. I like the idea of having concerts, tho. I attended some good concerts at Barnhill when I was a student, about 100 years ago. It was my impression that the Walton Arts Center was to be a joint venture between the city of Fayetteville and the UofA to have a good concert hall in town. Ticket prices there are probably out of reach for most students. As a musician, I find it hard to reject any facility that proposes to have concerts. Basketball and concerts? What’s not to like?

      What about facilities for students to play basketball on campus? Hell, everybody loves to play basketball, including musicians. Nothing like a tomahawk dunk to establish tempo. I would probably agree with you on this issue if the university intended to raise fees to pay for it. A lot of students pay activity fees but never attend any. They’re getting stiffed.

      As for competing financially against the bigger SEC schools, you are right again. Arkansas’s athletic budget is around $52 million, about $20 million less than Florida’s, LSU’s, etc. Arkansas budget is at the bottom of the SEC along with the Mississippi schools.

      But a recent survey that was linked through this site ranked the value of the Arkansas football team at #17 in the nation, with a profit of about $20 million annually. The basketball program was profitable once upon a time, but it’s probably just breaking even these days. There was a time during the Nolan era, in the 90s, when Arkansas basketball had the best winning percentage in America over the preceding ten years. Those days are gone. If Razorback basketball revenues won’t pay for the practice facility, they shouldn’t build it. Don’t they allocate something like 4000 student tickets for each home game? And student tickets are cheaper than regular admission tickets, right?

      I propose that the university increase the number of student tickets and lower prices, at least until (if) attendance improves.

      I agree with you about the value of the fan base. That is the real value of Razorback sports. If you lose the fans, the value of your program declines. Arkansas has enjoyed tremendous fan support. I used to be skeptical when homer announcers said Arkansas had the best fans in college sports, but I came to believe them. You’re right in saying that the AD and the coaches need to understand the Arkansas fans and to cultivate them. Raising ticket prices is not the way. Winning games is.

      Again, OKOC, good reply, well put. Go to the head of the class. And since you’re so smart, could you tell us how to lose Long and Sugg?

  • http://www.thoughts.com/OKOFCOURSE/blog OKOFCOURSE

    I agree with you on having a facility for the concerts and the students to play basketball but then we come to economics. I will assume that you know that college sports has now evolved from “just” sports to “entertainment”. I have no complaint with that, however, because of the way our economy is structured in this country, everyone is competing against each other for the dollar (except the government, of course, which has a monopoly) and that’s OK but here’s my beef. We are forcing the University of Arkansas Athletic Department to build (pay for) a building that will be competing against the sports teams for the entertainment dollar. Isn’t that like raising wolves and letting them go into the wild while at the same time trying to raise sheep for a living? This still would be okay with me if the U of A is going to get all the revenue from this venture and not have to share it with the school. I do not like the school and the athletic department becoming one (which Barnhill and Broyles fought for years to prevent) because in the end the school will be getting the Lion’s Share which will eventually destroy our sports programs.

    As for getting rid of Sugg and Long I can only guess about that. We are facing either fear, ignorance, or apathy in the lack of outrage about what Long is secretly doing. If it’s fear we have to “post up”, if it’s ignorance we have to get the incompetent media to “squeak up”, but if it’s apathy then your guess is as good as mine. Let us pray for the Hogs because we know how important they are to the citizens of Arkansas and I’m including myself in this group.

    • Swineherd

      Re Economics, athletics, academics: I don’t see how you can keep the sports programs separate from the university itself. The article I read about the football program said it returned about $20 million a year to the UofA, money which went to supporting other, unprofitable sports programs. I don’t know whether the basketball program is self-sustaining now or not; it used to be. Baseball is on the rise, and it might be profitable, or not.

      The UofA budget for the athletic department is around $52 million, so that leaves a shortfall of around $30 million that has to come from somewhere, which is the state, the people of Arkansas, including the students and their families.

      Then there’s the band. The drummer of the Hog Wild band for basketball got rave reviews on this site recently. I know there are lots of scholarships for musicians who play in the marching bands, etc. IMO, this is money well spent. But I asssume some of that scholarship money comes from the athletic department and some from the music department, which is in the College of Arts and Sciences, or whatever they call it nowadays. Perhaps somebody reading this could help us out there. The point is that there is a lot of overlap between athletics and academics, and there’s no way to keep them completely separate. Some of the players are getting degrees in PE, which is in the College of Education, e.g.

      All that administrative stuff is beyond me. But if you want to know the score, look to the advice of Deep Throat: “Follow the money.”

      So there’s gonna be a bureaucratic hierarchy at any such institution, and the AD is always going to report to superiors within the bureaucracy, the same way that college deans answer to the chancellor. I happen to think that is good, for the most part, and bad in some ways.

      One thing that might be done would be to make the Department of Athletics into the College of Athletics, which could make the AD into a Dean. He would still report to the chancellor.

      I don’t think any of this really addresses the matter of winning and losing, which is what fans care about. Since Arkansas is a poor sister in the SEC, I would say the Razorbacks do more with their budget, in terms of winning and making money, than perhaps any school in the country.

      You’re right about the entertainment value of sports, as the recent SEC contract with ESPN attests. Something like $1 billion over ten years? That means something like $800 million to the UofA, or $80 million per year? I’m sure it’s less than that, but it’s still a lot of money. That should pump up the athletic budget considerably.

      I just hope the UofA makes a big commitment to being an elite program. I believe the fan base exists to support it, a point you have made, OKOC. If the administration can’t see that, they are the proverbial blind Hog stumbling for an acorn.

  • GonzoHog

    The bottom line is that we’re still much farther away from regaining our national respect back than a lot of people are willing to accept.

    I’m not certain if John Pelphrey is the guy to lead us back yet, but considering the time he’s probably going to need to get that accomplished, there’s a pretty good chance he won’t make it.

    Fans these days just aren’t that patient, but it is what it is, I guess.

    • Swineherd

      It would probably be the end of next year, March ’11, before you could get a good handle on whether Pelphrey can bring the team back, IMO. 15 months. If he signs the three best Arkansas recruits I think the fans will have patience enough, perhaps just enough. And of course this team needs to win a few home games this season. If the Hogs can hold their own in Bud Walton against the middle of the SEC, I think the fans will stay. Then the recruits. Then improvement next year.

      His toughest critics will probably be analyzing the situation and expressing themselves right here on this site.

  • http://www.thoughts.com/OKOFCOURSE/blog OKOFCOURSE

    I can’t agree with you on not being able to seperate athletics from education. It was done in the past and there is no reason it can’t be done now. I remember hearing about Eddie Sutton taking Jim Robkin to a Houston basketball game when he first came to the U of A and Sutton showed Robkin the Houston pep band and told him he wanted a pep band just like theirs. In a few years Jim Robkin had assembled an even better band and the only pay they received were season tickets for the game.

    I don’t know anything about the money situation now but I’ve heard that the sports programs @ Arkansas are completely self-sufficient although the football program and basketball program have to pay for almost all the bills of the other athletic programs, most of which are forced on them by our generous government mandates. A long time ago even the U of A track program was making money because Nike and Rebok not only furnished our track team with shoes and uniforms but also paid the athletic department big money if they wore them, however, that was under Daddy Frank.

    I think the reason it is getting so hard to distinguish between what is the athletic department’s responsibility and what is the schools’ is because the school administration is burring the lines between the two intentionally making it easier for them to get their greedy little paws in the cookie jar.

  • Swineherd

    OKOC: You say athletics and education were separate in the past. When was that? I don’t think you can verify that. (Go to the back of the class.) Athletes are students; that’s part of the deal. Athletes pursue degrees in all colleges and departments at the UofA. I also pointed out that there was overlap between the music department and the sports programs. Jim Robken was on the staff of the music department, tho I think he was a graduate assistant when he first started The Hog Wild Band. He was definitely paid for his work. His band members were on scholarship; some may have been grad assistants. They were not a pick up band who played for season tickets–not then; not now.

    Yes, the UofA does make money from endorsements. I don’t know how much. Radio and TV, of course.

    The best figures I could cite were the ones from the article that was linked to this site showing that UA football was ranked 17th most valuable college football team with a profit of about $20 million. An online search showed the UA athletics budget at about $52 million. $32 million is a lot of additional money to come up with.

    It’s not enough to speculate that track made money without some figures to back it up. You said something earlier about getting “the incompetent media to ‘squeak up.'” When you post on this site you become part of the media, tho not quite the MSM. So it’s up to you to support your comments with facts and figures, not just anecdotes and speculations, if you want to be part of the “competent” media. Otherwise I do like the way you think and write.

    Perhaps some of our fellow bloggers would have a better breakdown of athletic department revenues and expenses and allocations.

    • OwassoHog

      Swineherd, let me set you straight with respect to the Hog Wild band. I was in the band during Jim’s years at UofA. Yes, we had several members of the marching band that received scholarships for being in the band. However, these typically were for music majors but not exclusively (which was expected). For the non-music majors, you may have received a very small “token” scholarship but that seemed few and far between.

      As I recall, the scholarship was for the marching band (fall) and concert band (spring) NOT the Hog Wild band. If you crunched the numbers, you’d be getting close to less than $1 per hour… even less if you factored in the Hog Wild band time.

      The Hog Wild band was a completely volunteer and was geared towards rewarding juniors and seniors. Freshmen typically were only granted 2 games (based upon the instrument played).

      In my case, by the time I was a junior/senior, I was playing at all of the games. I was even fortunate enough to get to travel to several away NCAA tournament games.

      Just for the record, I usually tell folks that I played for Eddie Sutton at UofA… based upon my phyiscal size, folks are either impressed or puzzled (no, I don’t have a basketball body). Then I spring on them that I also played for Lou Holtz… at this point they know something is up so I tell them I was in the band.

      Let me just say… I had a great time playing for UofA with one exception. It was Frank’s decision for not sending the UofA band to one of the bowl games (cost too much). As I recall, a high school band took our place. I never forgave Frank for this boneheaded decision. In fact, this was my beginning point of losing respect for him being our AD.

      • Swineherd

        Owasso: Oh Wow!

        I am impressed that you played in the early Hog Wild Band with Robken. What was your instrument(s)? Do you still play?

        Another ? Is that story accurate that OKOFCOURSE told about Sutton taking Robken to Houston and asking him to model a band like Houston’s?

        Are you saying you were not a scholarship music major? But you played in the marching band, the concert band, and the Hog Wild band? And some of those band members are walk-ons or have partial scholarships?

        I studied music (voice and piano) at the UofA in the late ’70s, but I didn’t have much contact with the bands. I majored in speech and i worked in radio. The station I worked at carried Razorback broadcasts, and I always felt honored when Eddie Sutton would call up after a road game, late at night, asking for basketball scores. It was always some obscure games that weren’t mentioned in the top 20, etc. I liked Sutton, thought he was a real person. Got to meet him in-person a coupla times.

        But you!. . .you got to go to all those games, to see the whole thing up close and personal. And to sit right behind the cheerleaders and the pom pom girls! I’m totally envious.

        Thanks for sharing this bit of UA history. OK, now you get to be the authority on the Hog Wild Band. If we have any questions, you’re the go-to guy. I would love to hear any more stories you have to tell about playing in the band, which has become an institution.

        I think that in the ’80s Broyles became really conservative, and insular, and began losing touch with the spirit that made the Razorbacks great in the first place. In fact he did more than anyone to make them great. But it was during this period that his stature and his reputation began to suffer. He didn’t know how to let go of power and authority. Sad. He was a great man in his prime.

      • OwassoHog

        A very long day… sorry for the slow response.

        I played the Alto Sax at UofA. I don’t recall any reference to the Houston trip… it could have happened based upon other things that I’m aware of. For example, Eddie called Jim over to his office not long after we had won the SWC championship. Jim didn’t know why or what he wanted… Coach Sutton presented Jim with a SWC championship ring. Wow!!! Jim was VERY impressed by this jester.

        I didn’t know receive a band scholarship for 3 reasons: 1) I was not a music major; 2) I played a wind instrument; and 3) I wasn’t that good. Don’t get me wrong… I was good but just not THAT good. It would only have been a few hundred dollars anyway. So, I guess you could say that I was indeed a walk-on!

        Yes, many of us played in all 3 (marching, concert, and Hog Wild) bands but didn’t get a scholarship. I really don’t remember how many music majors there were but I’m guessing that even some of them didn’t get full scholarships.

        As for getting to be on the inside… this was definitely a plus. As I mentioned, I was able to attend a lot of games in Barnhill… I was there during the 80-84 timeframe. So, many of the really great games happened during this timeframe… as you could imagine – they were really some great barn burners!

        If fact, I was fortunate enough to have been in Pine Bluff for the North Carolina game when we beat Michael Jordon. After the game, I was standing around and was able to talk with him personally. I still have part of the net that was cut down from that game.

        We marched at one of the Dallas Cowboys game (my least favorite team)… was on the field with Tony D. was on the sidelines. He asked where we were from… Alabama? No, Arkansas I said.

        Got to meet one of the wide receivers from the Houston Oilers at the Bluebonnet bowl.

        Road up the elevator with Bobby Knight at one of the NCAA games. Talk about intense… man, I think I’m still sweating that one.

        Many of ya’ll will probably remember Eugene Nash and his famous dunk… he was friends with some of my other friends. In fact, he was at my apartment after that game and watched the replay on my TV. As I recall, most of the games were replayed at 10:30PM.

        What about Sam Walton??? We did a parade in his honor after a big donation. Unfortunately, this was my only free weekend in like 8 or 9 weeks. As I was standing there, this guy walks up and thanks us for coming. I wasn’t that aware of Sam Walton back then (probably 1982). I almost said out loud what I was thinking… who the heck is this Sam Walton guy… and making me waste my only free Saturday! Turns out he was a very nice man.

        Hmmmm…. there are probably many more stories but time is wasting away.

        Hopefully, this was helpful.

        Later folks!

      • Swineherd

        Owasso, thanks for the follow-up. Man, you really had some great experiences with the Hogs and with music. You are fortunate.

        This may sound like some kind of woo-woo, but I just KNEW you played the alto sax. For real.

        I was at UA undergrad in the ’70s, took a break, and went back to grad school ’81-’83, so I was on campus the same time you were. Those were good times (I was young); thanks for sharing.

        Do you still play?

      • OwassoHog

        I haven’t played in years but my kids keep telling me to play in the alumni band for homecoming. I might just do it… some year.

  • http://www.thoughts.com/OKOFCOURSE/blog OKOFCOURSE

    You’re right about not being able to seperate athletics from education; I should have been clearer. I was talking about seperating the athletic revenue from the schools’ revenue. I also didn’t know about Robkin being a graduate assistant when he ran the Hog Wild Band but even if he was paid by the Music Department the financial seperation could easily have been accomplished by just allowing the athletic department to pay either the Music Department or him seperately for his services to the basketball team. Sorry but I mistakenly thought I had heard, when the band first started, that they volunteered and I believed it because at that time they were always dressed in street clothes and once even a member of the football team tried out for the band, got accepted, and was highlighted on a TV basketball game one night. I knew football players on scholarship couldn’t have jobs so I then naturally assumed they were all volunteers. It’s hard to see from here when you have put me so far back in the class room.

    The reason I want the “financial” seperation is because that will make it clear to everyone who is producing what the public wants and needs. Revenue is the only way we, the public, have of determining if we are satisfied with what the school or the athletic department is offering. When you combine the two then the public will never know who is delivering “the goods” and who is not. The one who is not will and should go “belly up” (financially that is) but will also cause the other to do the same just because it is in a forced association with the “non-producer”. The “non-producer” may stay a float for a while longer because of the “association” but the one (non-producer) will eventually drag the other (the producer) down with them and if the one (the non-producer) keeps failing miserably without the needed changes both will inevitability collapse; instead of (without the “association”) the public finding out (usually before it’s too late) that the one group who is malfunctioning, either the school or the athletic department, needs a change in leadership and/or direction.

    • Swineherd

      I think that before Eddie Sutton football was the only self-supporting or profitable sport on campus. If I remember correctly the football program was charged with being self-supporting in the Broyles era. Perhaps that is what you were thinking by saying that athletics were once separate from academics. The fact that it was mandated to be self-supporting may have been part of the reason for its financial success.

      Then along came Title IX mandating women’s sports, whether profitable or not. I think women’s sports are great, and I’m glad we have them whether profitable or not. UA has invested in baseball, and that program is on the rise. I don’t know whether track is profitable, but it sure has paid lots of dividends in recognition and prestige for Arkansas.

      If the athletic department had to support itself by it’s revenues, it would be much smaller than it is. I think that overall the sports programs are good for the fans and the people of Arkansas even if they are not profitable. Think volleyball, soccer. . ..

      I’m sure the accounting for the athletic department is available to the public. I don’t know whether it is published. If it’s not published you could get the info through FOIA, if necessary. Even if the administration plots the future in secret, as you suggest, their actions in most matters are public. That’s one advantage for citizens and fans of a state school.

      You may sit anywhere you like from now on.

  • http://www.thoughts.com/OKOFCOURSE/blog OKOFCOURSE

    I’ll stay seated here in the back. First off, I’m sorry about the misspelling of the word “separate”.

    I heard or read that the only reason Barnhill Arena was renovated in the 70’s was the athletic department had some money lefted over at the end of the year and it was not enough to do anything nice for the football facilities. So Broyles thought he could stop the basketball program from draining away money from the athletic department budget by renovating Barnhill. This enabled Broyles to hire Sutton and the basketball program became self-sufficient which had always been Broyles dream from the beginning (all athletic programs supporting themselves). The money they would save yearly from the renovation Broyles thought could eventually be used to renovate the old football stadium. However, the basketball program became so popular that more renovations were needed and the basketball program would have even been the major bread winner in the 94-95 season had they not had the foresight to go ahead and build Walton Arena.

    Here’s the point that I’ve been trying to make from the start: How can Athletic Director Jeff Long be asking for more money to build a basketball practice facility which we don’t need or want when he just gave a million dollars to the school for no apparent reason other than to kiss-up to the U of A Administration? Not only is this action proof that he has no interest in improving the sports programs but only has the schools’ interest at heart and not the athletic department which he is paid to represent – and why shouldn’t he? – they (John White) are the very ones who hired him in the first place. How is he ever going to get more money from the athletic contributors anyway if he is only going to give “their” money to the school and then have the gaul to ask them for even more money to build a practice facility so they can hold concerts in Walton Arena and/or the new practice facility? No one with a brain will give their money to the athletic department only to have some Athletic Director then turn around and take credit for giving “their” money to the school. If I’m not mistaken athletic contributors can do that themselves. That’s a self-defeating strategy (no it’s CRAZY) unless, of course, he is just a pathetic lap-dog for the school administration which I believe he is. Hints – the reason for my posts in the first place.

    • Swineherd

      Did you read OwassoHog’s comment about playing in the Hog Wild Band? A first-hand account of playing in the band. Very nice.

      When Sutton came to Arkansas, Barnhill Arena had only about 5000 seats. It had a raised court with sawdust on the floor between the bleachers and the court. I am telling you this from having been there a number of times. It was a BARN. (At least it was named after a coach and not a businessman.) Sutton made basketball popular enough that more seats were needed to accomodate the fans. So they doubled the size of the thing. Then Nolan came in, bringing even more success, thereby needing more seats to meet demand for tickets. And so Bud Walton became “the house that Nolan built.”

      The renovation of Barnhill and the construction of BW were done without university general funds, I do believe. There was always the stigma that Arkansas was a poor university in a poor state, and that it would not be right to take money from education to spend on sports. So Broyles et al went to the alumni, to businesses, everywhere they could to raise money for these facilities. Thus you have names like Donald W. Reynolds and Bud Walton on university buildings.

      So there are many funding sources that go into the construction of sports facilities on campus. I am not a big fan of Jeff Long, but I don’t believe your statement is accurate when you say, “he has no interest in improving the sports programs but only the schools’ interest at heart and not the athletic department which he is paid to represent.”

      I believe that the various colleges and departments at the UofA work together to make the whole university stronger and better for everybody, for students and fans and the people of Arkansas. The more successful the sports programs, the better the university.

      I don’t get your resistance to the basketball practice facility, though I am not informed on the matter. You may be right in your assessment of the situation. It sounds like a good idea to me, but I could be wrong. I doubt that it would take any money or attention away from other sports. I would suggest that you try to keep an open mind about it and try to see it from different perspectives. Researching the matter thoroughly might help you understand how the UofA tends to do these kinds of things.

      Northwest Arkansas has been fortunate to have some very successful businesses located there, and those families have contributed greatly to the UofA. Just keep in mind that the athletic programs have received lots of money, donations, from sources other their own earnings. Maybe Long wants to have a university the athletic department can be proud of.

  • http://www.thoughts.com/OKOFCOURSE/blog OKOFCOURSE

    Maybe your right and everything that’s happening is because “Long wants to have a university that the athletic department can be proud of” but THAT’S NOT HIS JOB which takes us back to my original point “that he only has the schools’ interest at heart and not the athletic department which he is paid to represent”. The practice facility is not what the Athletic Department needs or wants; it is what the School administration wants but is unwilling or incapable of paying for.

    I know change is inevible and I have fought it time and again when I thought it was wrong but only those changes that I believe are irrational, make no sense, and do not understand; then I start reading between the lines which I am doing now. I guess I am a “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” type of guy.

    You talked about the history of Barnhill well let me tell you some history of the Razorbacks. John Barnhill used to be the head football coach at Tennessee, and a very successful one during the War, but when General Neyland came back from WWII Barnhill was fired and Arkansas quickly hired him as their coach. When Barnhill became Athletic Director he knew the trouble he had with the government meddling with the Tennessee athletic department. They could do this because they, the government, owned their stadium and Barnhill never, although pressured many times, let the Arkansas State Legislature build the Razorbacks a stadium because he knew they would start pulling the strings which they did at Tennessee and everywhere else for that matter. They eventually built one in Little Rock. Even in 1969 when the President of the United States of America, Richard Nixon, came here to watch the “Game of the Century” along with a future President, George Bush, the stadium looked terrible but was ours. That was the same year that the national sports writers voted Arkansas as having the worst facilities of any major college football power but that was acceptable to Barnhill because we owned our own facilities and “called all our plays”.

    In the whole nation there are only two other major college football powers that I know of whose facilities are not owned by the State and that is Notre Dame and Stanford. Notre Dame’s and Standford’s facilities are not owned by the State because theirs is owned by the school. Arkansas’ facilities, although not owned by the State are not owned by the school either, they are all owned by the University of Arkansas Athletic Department and believe me that makes a big difference because no one, not the state, not the school, not anyone can tell the Athletic Director what to do with or to our facilities. We are now about to lose that precious gift that Barnhill and Broyles have given us with this pitiful administration Butt-Boy, Jeff Long. That is what I am trying to stop with this unnessary, uncalled for, and unholy union with the University Administration just because you and the people of your ilk think this “oneness” with everyone and everything is a great idea. I think Long is nothing but a money-grubbing, pencil-pushing bureaucrat who will destroy the Razorbacks if giving the time and then we will have neither a school that the football team can be proud of or a football team that the school can be proud of because of this oncoming “association” with eggheads who know about as much about creating and maintaining a successful sports program as Al Gore does about inventing the internet.

  • Swineherd

    OKOC, there are lots of major college stadia that are not owned by the state. Notre Dame is owned by the Catholic church. Stanford is a private university, as is Vanderbilt in the SEC. Everything at the University of Arkansas, including DWR Razorback stadium and the atheltic department is owned by the state of Arkansas, lock, stock and barrel.

    The reason Razorbacks basketball is in the toilet has nothing to do with facilities or finances, it is the result of bad decision-making by the administration, decisions made before Long arrived and since.

    While I have enjoyed the exchange of comments, I don’t think we are going to solve anything by continuing in this vein. Perhaps we can engage on another topic later. Good luck with your campaign to rid us of Long and Sugg.

  • http://www.thoughts.com/OKOFCOURSE/blog OKOFCOURSE

    I wrote MAJOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL POWER and if you are including lesser powers then you forgot Rice, SMU ……. and many others but they aren’t major powers and will probably never will be. The decisions made that put the basketball team in trouble were not done by Long but I said THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION. When Broyles didn’t extend Nolans contract because he was not giving much effort in recruiting then Nolan went to White to get his contract extented which cost the Athletic Department some big bucks; Then Nolan forced them to fire him. Also Broyles had Coach Self sewed up as our new basketball coach but again White stepped in and wanted Heath to be hired because of the lawsuit. THAT’S THE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION MEDDLING!!!! You have got to be completely out of touch if you think that Broyles lost it in the 80’s. That had to the dumbest statement I have EVER heard coming from a blogger EVER!!!!! You say you want some facts where here’s some facts:

    Walton Arena was built in 1994 at a cost of somewhere in the 30 million dollar range. It was then and I think still is (15 years later) in the top 5 on campus basketball facilities in the Nation. South Carolina hired the same company and told them they wanted a arena just like Arkansas’ and they built it for a cost of 80 million. When the South Carolina fans complained asking how come they had to pay so much more than Arkansas the company said if you can get a company like Wal-Mart to promise that they will hire us to build some stores then we can lower the price. That was pulled off by Daddy Frank.

    The Football stadium (1998) which has about 134 skyboxes (the most in the SEC and all rented out) was built at a cost of somewhere between 100 and 130 million dollars. It was the largest construction job, except for roads, ever done in Arkansas. When Broyles was getting insurance for the Stadium after it was completed he noticed it was assessed at 200 million and he told the insurance representative that the assessment was too high. The man said he would get someone else to check it and he did and that came back 200 million and another and another. Then finally an insurance person came up with an idea and told Broyles he would insure the Stadium for full value at the cost of 100 million if he would get that construction company who built Donald W. to sign an agreement if something happened they would replace it for the same price. Broyles contacted them and they refused saying “we’re not ever going to build one like that again so cheap”.

    The baseball stadium (1995) is called the College Baseball Palace of America.

    The track facilities are the best in the Nation and no one else is even close.

    The #1 women’s gymnastics facility in the nation and the #1 women’s volleyball facility in the nation.

    The #1 women’s softball facililty in the nation.

    You and people like you have no business choosing who our Athletic Directors are and in my opinion should not even be allowed on Sports blogs.

    You remind me of a Moron on another blog that I lefted because of him and his name was MRPRFCT!!!!!!! No more dedates with you.

  • Swineherd

    Those who call people “a Moron” are the ones who “should not even be allowed on Sports Blogs.”

    You are correct that I “have no business choosing who our Athletic Directors are.” I’ve never had any input in that matter nor likely ever will, nor would I want any. I’m just a fan. And an alumnus.

  • http://www.thoughts.com/OKOFCOURSE/blog OKOFCOURSE

    Sorry but you had too many mistakes in your posts to write I should do more research on subjects before I started posting (i.e. the Hog Wild Band for one). Then when you slammed Broyles for the 80’s I had to vent.

    As far as the moron comment: Well, maybe I shouldn’t have but then if the shoe fits.

    • http://www.razorbloggers.net/ TipsterHog

      Let’s attempt to refrain from calling people names in the future.