Arkansas’ Bright Softball’s Future, Nasty Internet Fans & a Story About the Night the Hogs Stomped the Aggies at WMS
Q. We start with softball. The Arkansas women losing two games to one to Texas in the Fayetteville Super Regional. A big disappointment but Margaret Tuley Roach says: What a wonderful season!! Y’all are truly a group of amazing young women! Couldn’t be prouder, of all of your accomplishments!! Razorback Softball Fan for life!! WooPig!
A. I agree. It was tough the way it ended but you have to celebrate the best season in the history of Arkansas softball. Most total wins. First outright SEC title. First SEC Tournament title and first Super Regional win. With Courtney Deifel’s recruiting hopefully they will get to Oklahoma City next year and the best part, look at the massive crowds. They may have to add seats at Bogle Park.
Q. John Royer asks: Were they that good or did we beat ourselves?
A. Maybe a combination of both. Texas did play well. Mainly they corrected the defensive problems that had plagued them this season and they took advantage of an Arkansas batting order that was over anxious at the plate. I think the pressure got to them some and it’s understandable. They’d never played in front a crowd that large that offered that much support. It can be intimidating because you don’t want to let those people down. In the future they will be used to it. Next season I think the regular season crowds will be much bigger. They’ve gained a lot of new fans.
Q. And you’re always gonna get a few comments like this: Ryan Landers says: I see. It’s just another sport Arkansas chokes in…. Geez, can’t catch a break.
A. That comes with success and it’s a frustration that’s expressed often in sports like football, basketball and baseball. A lot of Hog fans believe that every time they get excited about a sport going all the way something bad pops up near the end to ruin the season. The “close but no cigar” syndrome. Keep in mind that nobody says this in an average season. You have to be really good and come really close to generate this type of response.
Q. Bacons Rebellion says: I’m still annoyed by all the empty seats at the softball regional. What if season ticket holders were penalized priority seating points for the next year on unredeemed tickets? At least that MIGHT motivate donors and businesses to get the tickets used through an exchange or some other way.
A. You do have a good idea but I’m not sure how practical it is. Plus the Friday and Saturday crowds were great. Only a few empty seats. I think the weather affected the Thursday crowd and the fact that it was a weekday evening. People had to go back to work the next day.
Q. To baseball where @mousetown wants to know: What do you think about the Arkansas men’s draw in the NCAA Tournament?
A. If they had to go on the road it’s a good draw. There will be a lot of Hog fans over in Stillwater. I don’t have a problem with Arkansas not hosting based on the way this team went south in the last part of the regular season and in the SEC tournament. But how does Auburn Host? Arkansas had the 3rd best record in the SEC. Auburn was 5th. Some of the national college baseball media guys called it “metrics.” The only metric that should matter is how you played vs. how the other teams in your conference played. To me RPI is a dreamed up formula that people came up with, like, Hey, we got this new thing and it will be important. It’s metrics.
Take your metrics and shove it. The best approach is often the simplest.
Take high school football in Arkansas. You know how you get into the playoffs and how it’s determined where you play, home or away? It’s how you finish in your conference. That’s the metric. They had that same metric back in the dark ages when I played in Texas.
We don’t need some created formula just to say we’re doing things differently.
This wasn’t just in the SEC. The selection committee did a lazy job in creating the bracket. In the Big 12, TCU won the regular season championship. They don’t host but Texas does and Texas finished 5th. Oklahoma finished ahead of Texas in the regular season and beat them in the Big 12 tournament. Texas hosts and OU doesn’t. That’s insane metrics. Whoever is on that committee should be removed.
Q. Alex4Hogs88 wants to know: What are your thoughts on the comments that Derek Ruscin made about Michael Turner? It seems to me he crossed a line. What ramifications do you believe these comments or behavior towards any student athlete may have on the future recruiting of Razorback baseball?
A. Turner, like Dave Van Horn last week, made a distinction between average fans and over the top comments from a few fans. Look, all fan bases have these over the top nasty tweeting fans. So no I don’t think it will affect recruiting. It’s part of what you get when you decide to compete. But it’s not right.
For instance, some fans have sent Twitter messages to Connor Noland’s mom attacking him. That type of thing is idiotic and it’s what Turner was referring to.
As for Ruskin, he was making the point that Turner came across like he was blaming the fans for the team’s poor play lately and he got really personal calling Turner a rent-a player. That was one of the milder things he said.
Let’s look at a response to that.
Ryan Costeiu posted: As a former Razorback Baseball “rental player” as you like to call it, I, like others, understand exactly what guys on the team are going through and completely understand their take on the fan base on social media.
Describing an athlete in the way that you’ve done will never be considered “good journalism” and you should be ashamed. As a player I received multiple messages on multiple occasions via social media suggesting that I should be dead or receive bodily harm based on my performance.
And this from former Razorback Eric Cole: I don’t think I’ll ever forget all of the people telling me to end my life during the national championship. Grow up and treat the kids like human beings, I promise that some of the stuff you say can stick with them for the rest of their lives
A. Ruskin’s comments were extreme as were some of the over the top tweets some of the players got. It’s unfortunate. But all you can do as a player is to ignore this stuff. Tune it out. Consider the source and don’t let it bring you down. As for Ruscin, the people he works for have suspended him.
Q. Let’s look at some other comments that some might think are negative but to others would be just telling it like it is.
B. Bierman says: Not-so-bold-prediction: Hogs have 2 games left and finish 38-20
A. I don’t have a problem with that. He’s not attacking a specific player. He’s not getting personal. This is a frustrated fan making a prediction out of anger based on the fact that this team has lost four straight games and if they don’t play better this week he will be right.
Q. Knot2brite says: We do not hit to the opposite field well…we do not hit with runners on very well…and we do tend to rely on the home run too much. If that is hater status then add me to it.
A. I don’t have any problem with this observation. It’s not over the top. Again, this comments are directed at the team, not specific players and his observation is accurate in my opinion. This is not a hater fan. Just a fan who wants this team to play at a high standard that has been established by previous Arkansas teams.
Q. SooieHog says: This is not Razorback baseball and I expect that change is coming. No way a good coach like DVH will just accept this!
A. We’ll see. How will DVH react to this? Will there be any staff changes? Will he cut lose any players? How will he rebuild this team come next year? It will be a continuing story going into next season.
Q. And we have some positive comments. Scott alexander says: Still love ’em no matter what. Hopefully they climb out of it
A. There’s always a chance of that. The season isn’t over until it’s over. Hopefully we’ll see a different team come this weekend. You need a certain percentage of die hard fans that will hope for the positive.
Q. TL Slaten asks: Don’t you think we are better off coming home early from Hoover?
A. That’s a good question and yes it’s better unless you go deep into the tournament. There no point to winning a losers bracket game and turn around and lose the next game. Just come home, rest up. Get extra practice. Get your heads straight and go play.
Q. To basketball where the big story is Jaylin Williams’ decision to go pro.
@sgiles asks: How much will J-Will’s departure affect the team next season? I am going to miss that big smile and all the charges he took. That was fun.
A. There are four tall wing players coming in. They are all new to the program. So having J-Will back to lead that group would have been helpful. But you reach a point where there’s too much talent on the roster and some guys don’t play.
I think the perimeter game is going to be amazing next season. Having a group of mobile 6-9, 6-10 guys as targets will be something to watch. This team had assist issues last season. I don’t see that being a problem next year. The perimeter players can shoot, dribble and get the ball inside and they’ll have some tall, moving targets to aim for.
It would have been fun to have J-Will’s big smile back for one more season but he did what’s best for him. On the other hand, he’ll be a Hog fan for life. He will help future recruiting if he sticks in the NBA and I think he will.
Q. Moving on to football ArkieRedneck wants to know: What’s your assessment of the start times for the first three football games this coming season. Those morning/ afternoon games in early September are brutal for the fans at DWRRS. Especially those north endzone seats.
A. Better than I thought it would be. The season opener is at 2:30. That’s the heat of the day but it will get a little cooler as the game wears on. Game two is at 11 AM. That’s usually hot and getting hotter. But will be in the second week of September so maybe the fans will catch a break and the temperatures will be upper 80’s instead of mid 90’s. The third game starts at 6:30. A night game the third week in September
should be fine. At least they didn’t get hit will three 11 AM start times.
Q. Ashton wants to know: Do you think KJ Jefferson has a legit shot to win the Heisman trophy in 2022? And if KJ improves even more this year do u think he could be a good QB in the NFL? Arkansas hasn’t had many QBs succeed in the next level.
A. He’s got a shot but Arkansas will have to really do some damage in the SEC. Win 10 games. Beat Alabama. Win a major bowl game. Things like that. As far as the NFL I don’t know. I think what he does this coming season will have a lot to do with that.
Q. St John asks: Do you think Ricky Stromberg is really the number two center in the country for 2022?
I saw where one of those sports websites listed him there.
A. Who knows? It’s not whether he’s that good on paper before the season starts but how he plays once it does start. But it’s good publicity right now.
Hopefully they have him rated accurately.
Q. The Hawk Hawkins on Twitter says: Some Random SEC sports Internet site claims there’s a rumor floating around that Arkansas is using an NIL collective to offer Arch Manning $2 million to sign with us. They say it ain’t gonna happen. Arch would never come here. Truth or baloney?
A. It’s true that Arch Manning is not coming to Arkansas. It’s baloney that he’s been offered $2 million to do so. That rumor being reported by one Internet media outlet and it’s not mainstream. The fact that none of the regular recruiting guys, like our Otis Kirk, are saying anything about this this should tell you all you need to know.
I’m told that Arkansas is not even recruiting Arch Manning and they already have the QB commitment for this cycle that they want. He’s a K.J. Jefferson look alike out of Georgia who is a true run/pass QB.
If Jefferson leaves for the NFL after the 2022 season look for Sam Pittman to bring in Felipe Franks-type out of the portal.
As far as an Arkansas mega booster willing to throw millions of dollars at a recruit, I’m told that no such person exists
Q. teamOTIS says: Congrats Mike on being inducted into the Arkansas Sportscasters Hall of Fame! Do you have any favorite memories from covering the Hogs and what advice would pass on to future sportscasters?
A. My favorite memory is the from the first big football game I covered at Arkansas. December 6th, 1975 in Little Rock. the Aggies were ranked number 2 in the nation. Arkansas, with one loss, was 19th. The Razorbacks stomped A&M that night in front of 52,000 fans that sounded like 100,000. It was the most amazing college game I’d ever seen. The best part was after the game watching Aggie fans make excuses. The game was moved by ABC to December before the season started to create a big end of the season draw. To this day Aggie fans claim that if it had been played earlier in the season, like it was supposed to be, A&M would have won and would have won the national championship. But losing that game caused a downturn in Aggie football that lasted several years. Oh what a shame.
It’s amazing how much like Texas fans they are. They’re all about excuses.
My advise to future sportscasters? Be prepared to work long hours and don’t do it unless you really love it. It will dominate your life. Unless you want to live in a major city, you’re not going to make a large amount of money. If you are married you will need an understanding spouse. Be objective and don’t make your work about yourself. It’s about the coaches and players that you cover.
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