Ask Mike: Aggies, Aggies, Aggies, NIL Solutions & Mike’s Hog Football Kool Aid

By Mike Irwin
on 2024-06-24 18:44 PM

With athletics over for the 2023-2024 academic year we’ve officially entered what Steve Spurrier used to call the “Talkin’ Season.” That period where fans start talking football. We’ll do it for the next 10 weeks. So here we go.

Q. Hogdogger wants to know: What happened to Carius Kern? Is there something going on that we lost a good 4 star player?

A. Carius Kern is an offensive linemen from Marion Arkansas. He’s considered the number one recruit in the state for 2025 and top 5 in the nation. He committed to Arkansas back in February, later decommitted and this past week he committed to LSU. This set off predictions of doom and gloom on the internet among fans who have wanted Sam Pittman fired since the end of last season. Adding to that is the Internet media which has also added a doom and gloom element to this story. I’m not indicating that this is not an issue but I am pointing out that (a) he didn’t sign, he committed and (b) this is not over until signing day in mid December. Also as long as I have covered this football program, and that goes back 48 seasons, Arkansas generally loses an instate recruit or two. This certainly isn’t the first time that a nationally ranked recruit went out of state. It happens. Some kids just like to go somewhere new.

Sam Pitman has said that portal recruiting takes precedence over traditional recruiting. We got a good look at the job that did in the offseason in the portal. That will have much more of an impact this fall than high school recruiting.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy says: When Coach Pittman was hired, many of us felt that he would be able to right the ship based mostly on his recruiting ability. Has recruiting changed so much that NIL overwhelms old fashioned “relationships” recruiting? Or is the U of A just that hard to recruit to?

A. I don’t think the U of A is hard to recruit to out of the portal right now. Ever since portal recruiting started becoming a factor San Pittman has done a good job there. Players in the portal are there for specific reasons. Yes, they may be out to increase their NIL earnings. But they are also looking for a fresh start. If they get a good vibe from a certain coaching staff that becomes a big factor. That used to be the number one factor in recruiting high school players. It’s no longer true. More and more of them are looking for money and they also don’t look much farther than what happened with a team the season before. Again, I think that’s a factor in Arkansas’ recruiting of high school players right now. It doesn’t have to stay that way. If this team turn’s things around this fall the situation could change even before signing day in mid December and later in early February.

Q. David Porter says: So much negativity about Pittman. I need something positive. I need Kool Aid and I’ll slurp it until the season starts. Why will they win?

A. Because portal fixes are more immediate than traditional recruiting and virtually every player personnel problem they had last season has been addressed through the portal. Also Sam Pittman traded a mistake he made hiring an offensive coordinator with probably the best hire he could have made. The only thing better than a Bobby Petrino offense with Petrino as the head coach is a Petrino offense with Petrino as the offensive coordinator ONLY. Especially if he’s given free reign to run the offense.

Petrino needed a quarterback, a quarterback he could mold to fit his offense. He has that in Taylon Green. He’s the next Matt Jones. Tall, fast and he can throw the ball. Plus he will be working with the best QB coach out there.

Arkansas now has maybe the best young offensive line coach in college football. Eric Mateos is also working along side of Sam Pittman has, in effect, become a second O line coach at Arkansas. They worked together this spring and you see the impact that they were having.

The defense was already good last year under Travis Williams. When the offense came apart after the Florida game the defense had had enough. They let go of the rope too. T- Will has also used the portal to replace some of those who ended up being dead weight. They lost a good player in linebacker Poo Paul who was frustrated with the way the season ended and transferred out. But they replaced him with Georgia transfer Xavian Sorey Jr. The secondary looks stronger.
One of the best defensive ends in college football came back. I’m talking Landon Jackson.

Lets go back to recruiting. With all the negative talk about Carius Curne committing to LSU how many Hog fans are reacting to the commitment to Arkansas of Antonio Jordan? That happened on Sunday. He’s a 6-6, 230 pound receiver from Warren. Most Hogs fans remember Treylon Burks, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs. They were also from Warren. They played for Bobby Petrino. So getting a 6-6 230 pound receiver from Warren should be a big deal right?

The problem is he’s a three star and the same fans ripping Sam Pittman for losing Curne were ripping Jordan for being a three star. We can’t win games in the SEC with three star recruits. You know why he’s a three star? Because he didn’t go to camps. He didn’t visit other schools. He wants to be a Hog and Arkansas wants him and that’s it. Reminds me of Darren McFadden. D-Mac was a four star who was the top high school running back in the country when he was a senior but nobody knew it because he didn’t do camps. He didn’t visit other schools. He was a Hog.

I’ll take players like that every day over kids who want to go elsewhere regardless of the star system.

Finally I will point this out. This team has been looking at a steady diet of, you guys stink, your coach is gonna get fired, since last December. It started with the fans. It’s spread to the Internet media and the players on this team have noticed. It’s the opposite of the rat poison that Nick Saban talks about. I think this team will start the season with an attitude. I’d rather have that than the rat poison Ole Miss players have been sucking in since last December.

Q: WVHogfan says: Recently, the NCAA agreed to pay 2.8 billion dollars to settle NIL lawsuits. After that agreement, the 1983 NC State basketball team filed a NIL lawsuit against the NCAA. When will these lawsuits come to an end? If the NCAA continues to lose these lawsuits what will be the end results?

A. Supposedly by agreeing to settle previous NIL lawsuits and by agreeing to add approximately 30 million in athletic department revenues to scholarship athletes the courts will look more favorably at the NCAA in future litigation. We’re told this will end the so called wild wild west period in college football recruiting. New recruiting rules will be added and enforced to prevent the outright buying of players with NIL money.

Q. Eddylynn says: I’m hearing that a new NIL related issue is creeping into recruiting. High school coaches getting money to deliver players to a certain schools. Is this a rumor or is it starting to happen?

A. I’m gonna consider it a rumor until the NCAA goes after a school for doing it. Just understand that this is not like offering a recruit money. I don’t think the courts are going to support a high school coach who uses his own player to get money for himself. The NCAA went after Alabama for this back in the early 2000’s in the Albert Means case. The coach got fired. Alabama got put on probation. A coach who would try this and a school that would use that approach to get a player is playing with fire.

Q. Broomba wants to know: What will it take for the baseball team to not only get out of regionals but win the NC? Is DVH the answer? Are there other problems on the staff or players not finishing the job after starting off strong?

A. You’re asking me if DVH can win a national title. I don’t know. I do believe that if a team keeps going back to Omaha sooner or later they will likely win a title but there are no guarantees. Ask Florida State. They just went back for he 23rd time and still no title. Some say Arkansas problems lately have been because of the hitting coach and his power hitting philosophy. I don’t think the philosophy is bad. Arkansas needs to recruit better home run hitters if that’s the approach DVH wants to take. However it looks like he’s recruiting to play more like Kentucky this past season. Small ball. Singles and doubles with speedy base runners. However, Kentucky didn’t win it all either.

The Bionic Pig says: Settle an argument: The 1998 Razorbacks featuring Clint Stoerner, Madre Hill, Brandon Burlsworth, Anthony Lucas & Joe Dean Davenport or the 2010 Razorbacks featuring Ryan Mallett, Joe Adams, Knile Davis, Jarius Wright, Greg Childs. Which 85 scholarship roster wins?

Also the 1964 Arkansas Razorbacks vs 1977 Razorbacks?

A. That’s a tough one. Twist my arm and I’ll go with the Mallett bunch but both teams were really good. The ’98 Hogs lost to national champion Tennessee. Had ’em beat before the Stoerner fumble. They also lost to Michigan and Tom Brady. That was a tough bowl matchup.

In 2010 Arkansas finished behind Auburn who won a national championship and LSU which won the Cotton Bowl. Arkansas got edged by Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl in another matchup with a top quality opponent.

The ’77 team is still the best Razorback team I covered. They not only had talent at every position, they went two deep. They reminded me of some the Alabama teams we’ve seen under Saban. No they didn’t win it all like the ’64 Hogs but the ’64 Hogs didn’t go up against Earl Campbell.

Q. Hawgredneck says: The Aggies had that natty they’ve always wanted wrapped up until Tennessee hit two home runs in the 7th inning of Sunday’s game two. Did they blow their chance? I mean they ARE Aggies.

Q. The national title game has not been played as we tape this podcast so I’ve got to guess but yes, I’ll say the Aggie blew it. I think the Aggie pitchers had gotten into Tennessee’s hitters heads. The thing that got Tennessee to the championship series just vanished. Then suddenly it was back. A&M should have been able to win that game by holding Tennessee to four runs. They lost because their own hitting went south.

As long as I’ve watched college sports A&M has been a team in any sport that gets close but can’t get over the hump. I say it will continue.

Q. RazorAlex88 says: Monday is my birthday! Have you had any Razorback memories on your birthdays? I would say my closest one was when Arkansas eliminated Florida to go to the 2018 College World Series final (on June 22). Of course we all know how the final series went -deep sigh-

A. My birthday is in July and there are no Razorback sports going on then. However at SEC media days in 2022 there was an Aggie TV reporter who kept doing segments from the media work area yelling that the experts were picking the Aggies as the odds on favorite to win the SEC. I wish I could have been around him at the end of that season. In 2022 Texas A&M finished in a three way tie for last place in the conference with a 2-6 record.

Q. mousetown asks: Why do you think so many fans are down on the Aggies? It’s almost like it’s the Aggies vs. everybody else. Nobody likes them but Aggies.

A. Some of it is what I just talked about. They do more bragging that any fan base I know. Their oddball traditions don’t help. Who dreamed up the idea of blowing bubbles at a baseball game? That’s something you do at a birthday party for a six year old kid. Who choreographed that stuff their male yell leaders do. Remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine danced and people were like what is that? That’s what everybody but Aggies are thinking when they watch those yell leaders.

(Last updated: 2024-06-24 18:44 PM)