Ask Mike: Bad Basketball, Play for Pay College Sports & Why Guiton Left

By Mike Irwin
on 2024-01-15 17:48 PM

Q. Our first question is from mousetown who asks: Do you think that Muss still has time to turn this team around? I don’t. I don’t think he could do it if he had an extra month. This is a bad basketball team.

A. It’s not a bad team. It’s a mediocre team that is looking worse because the SEC
is stacked with quality teams this season. Auburn is a Final Four-type team. Mike White has done an incredible job in turning Georgia into an NCAA tournament team in year two there. The same thing at Florida. The Gators are also an NCAA tournament team in my opinion.
It’s really going to be interesting to see how many SEC teams make it to the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight and maybe the Final four.

Arkansas’s problems begin and end with bad defense. They Hogs are 6th in the SEC in scoring. If their defense weren’t so bad they might have a shot at making the tournament. But I don’t think they will. There is some talent on this team but who really stands out as an elite talent? Is there an NBA player on this roster? Most would say Trevon Brazile but his draft stock is dropping.

Q. WVHogfan says: In ’08 we beat ranked Oklahoma and Texas and expectations were high. Then we won only 2 conference games. This season we beat Purdue and Duke and have performed poorly in conference play. Is history repeating?

A. I see more than two SEC wins for this team. Maybe six. There’s no question these guys are better coached than that ’08-’09 John Pelphrey team. He was by far the worst coach I’ve covered in my time here.

Q. H.L. McCamish says: This season is proof that portal rankings are not a guarantee of anything. This was supposedly a top 5 class. Whoever ranks this stuff needs to find another job.

A. Maybe the answer is not to not place so much faith in those rankings. Look, it’s a guessing game. Nobody knows how players in the portal are going to transition to another system under a new head coach with new teammates. There’s also the NIL factor. A lot of the portal transfers are getting NIL money for the first time. It affects some players more than others.

There’s always a risk doing a major rebuild with portal players. Muss has been good at it but as we’re seeing this season, there are no guarantees.

Q. Hogdogger says: I have a feeling NIL has made players less motivated to play hard and win in college sports. They are looking ahead to getting a paycheck and it doesn’t mean as much to give your all, playing for a college team. I’m thinking this applies more towards basketball and this years team.

A. Maybe, we’re not in that locker room. We don’t hang with the these guys away from basketball. Muss has said they practice hard. The players have said they get along and selfishness is not the problem. I would not expect them to admit it if it were the problem but I think we’d be hearing more about it through back channels.

I tend to think this team is just not as talented as it was supposed to be. There are other theories. Maybe as a group this bunch doesn’t fit Musselman’s system as well as transfers in the past.

Q. marty byrde’s proxy says: With high school guys there’s coaches, teachers, and administrators you can talk to about kids. With portal guys, do they call up and say “hey coach I’m recruiting your player, is he ok?” I wouldn’t think so.

A. I think there are some grown up relationships between head coaches where if you trust a coach and he knows you didn’t tamper to get a kid into the portal. There are some situations where a coach could have a good conversation with a player’s former coach and learn a lot about what makes him tick. But mostly I think you’d call coaches of teams the kid played against. You also can do the same checking with his hometown coaches and teachers that you’d do with a high school player. But mostly I think you just look at stats and watch lots of video him to see how he responds in certain situations.

The proof is in the performance.

Q. Kansas Hog asks: Why has Musselman been hiding Pinion and Blocker on the bench? He finally lets them play and look what they did.

A. My impression is that everything Muss does is based on how his guys practice. I was more suprised by Blocker’s lack of playing time than Pinion’s. To me Pinion has always been a guy who lights it up from three point range in practice but it doesn’t translate in games. Against Florida he was 2-4 on three pointers and 3-7 from two point range. Pinion played okay but he did have a couple of turnovers with just one assist.

Blocker plays with a lot of energy. He attacks the paint better than Arkansas’ other point guards. This team plays soft. He doesn’t. But he’s a freshmen. He’s still adjusting to the game at this level. I think he’ll play more moving forward but the bottom line is Arkansas lost to Florida by 22 points. I don’t think Pinion and Blocker and the solution to this team’s problems.

Q. Chuck F says: Muss is the best we have had since Nolan. Want to try and get Heath, Pelphrey or Anderson back? If people keep up this nonsense, we may have the chance.

A. I haven’t see a lot of that. Most Internet fans have reacted harshly to anybody trying to lay this team’s problems off on poor coaching or suggesting that Muss needs to go. You’ll always get some of that because the Internet is a collection point for people who like to criticize coaches.

Most complaints I read have to do with Muss not accepting blame for the losses. That’s his style. It’s never bothered me. I’m not interested in hearing a coach accept blame publicly when he doesn’t really mean it and believe me, a lot of coaches do that because it’s the politically correct thing to say.

Q. Dr. Starcs says: Loved Mike railing against socialism while simultaneously lobbying for all collegiate athletes to make the same exact stipend. Courtney’s reaction was pretty priceless.

A. Clearly you didn’t get it that I was addressing two separate issues. Coaches salaries are always going to be controlled by supply and demand. That’s how a free market economy operates. Jim Harbaugh’s suggestion that coaches take less so players can get more is just so
much hot air. Let’s see if his salary goers down after winning a national championship.

The other part of that question last week had to do with NIL collectives. Money from fans and boosters is funneled into an athletic department fund and distributed to various athletes on scholarship. Legally this falls under title IX. Basically the Supreme Court ruled more than 40 years ago that scholarships have to be equal. What a male athletes gets, a female athlete gets.
There are lawsuits filed right now against the way some of these collectives have distributed money unequally to various athletes.

Nothing can be done about that. Athletes don’t work for private businesses. They are enrolled in public institutions that are subject to federal law.

Q. hawgredneck says: You finally got what you’ve been asking for. The NCAA is going after Florida State for using an NIL deal to recruit a high school player. It seems like everybody is doing this. Why Florida St.?

A. As nearly as I’ve been able to determine the Florida State case is more cut and dried. The NCAA claims to have evidence that a FSU coach arranged a meeting between a high school recruit and a booster willing to give that recruit an NIL deal. The coach supposedly drove the recruit to the meeting. So it appears that FSU was very careless. Setting up NIL deals for high school recruits happens a lot. Most coaches are simply better at covering their tracks.

The NCAA needs to step up its investigations into these type violations.. The ultimate answer is for coaches to turn the violators in, but most aren’t going to do it. It’s difficult to be a snitch.

Q. Eddy Lynn wants to know: Are coaches going to end up giving players NIL bonuses to keep them from leaving before bowl games? More and more playing college football is just about money. I hate it.

A. We answered this question last week. Next year with 12 playoff teams almost all of these players will stay. There aren’t many who will pass on a chance to make it to the national championship game. Maybe none. We will still see some players skipping the non playoff bowls but that’s nothing new. If there’s a silver lining in a bowl game where starters opt out, its that coaches have a chance to work more with the players coming back and see them in an actual game. It’s an early look at the next season.

Q. robs4516 wants to know: Do you think Coach Guiton left voluntarily or was told it was best that he look for another job?

A. He could have stayed. It was his decision. I think it was difficult for him to remain here after he had been given the offensive coordinator’s title even if it was just for a few games. In 1992, after Jack Crowe was fired, Joe Kines was the Interim head football coach for 11 games at Arkansas. In ’93 he went back to being the defensive coordinator after not getting the head coaches job permanently. He later admitted it was mistake to return to the staff in his former position.

Q. Pigsfeat asks: Greater legacy? Nick Saban or John McDonnell?

Two different sports. Two completely different situations. That would be like comparing Saban to John Wooden who won 10 national championships in basketball at UCLA. They each are the best that’s ever been in their sport. That’s good enough for me. No need to debate it further.

Q. Mann-annimal wants to know: Do you think the coaches forced Sategna to give up track to concentrate totally on football? I read where it was his idea but I know how much he loves to do both.

A. I think it was a mutual decision. He’s going into his junior season and he needs to be a go to guy in Petrino’s offense. With his speed he’s perfect for it but learning that system this spring is going to be critical. If he cracks the starting rotation he could always go back to track part time the following spring.

Q. sglies says: Since they’re forcing all these changes on us that a lot of us don’t like, how about the NCAA gives us something we want? I’m always football starved in the spring. Why can’t schools play a spring game against other teams? Maybe two. Or three.

A. Great idea but three games would never be approved. Let’s start with one. A spring game against another team would be fun for the fans and the players and helpful to the coaches. I say do it. It’s past time.

(Last updated: 2024-01-15 17:48 PM)