Ask Mike: Coaches Who Freak Over Losses, A Bud Campbell Story from Mike & Can Hog FB Ever Win a Natty?

By Mike Irwin
on 2023-07-31 17:41 PM

Q. With August Camp set to start this week our first question gets right to the point.
Pigsfeat wants to know: What does Arkansas football need to do in order to compete for National Championships and do you think it is possible to ever reach that level again?

A. My third season here they almost did it. A 13-9 loss to Texas was the difference. At the time I was thinking it was just a matter of time. Well that was 46 years ago and they haven’t come close since.

I think the 06 team had the talent to do it but there was too much drama surrounding the team that season.

The expansion of the SEC to 16 teams will make it more difficult. The only hope, in my opinion, is to expand the playoff system beyond the 12 teams that will be included in 2024. Sixteen is the right number to me. Right now the only way Arkansas gets into the playoffs is by winning the SEC championship game or coming out of that that game with one loss. Expansion will allow more teams in with two losses, maybe even three.

The other thing that has to happen is better recruiting. Arkansas is going to have to start landing some five stars. Their recruiting is on the upswing with the two new coordinators. They’re headed in the right direction. But they need to finish consistently in the top five in the SEC.

Coaching is the final factor. That was Frank Broyles’ strength. He hired a great staff, especially the coordinators. I like the way Sam Pittman keeps tinkering with his staff. He’s heading in the right direction.

Q. RazorAlex88 Asks: What are your thoughts on the conference realignment that has taken place in last couple years? It is so weird to think that both USC and UCLA will be in the Big 10 soon.

A. I don’t like any of it. But there’s no way to stop it. College football these days is all about TV money and you get TV money by putting high profile games on every week. The difference between college football and college basketball is simple. All you have to do is look at Arkansas under Eric Musselman. He doesn’t need conference titles to go deep into the playoffs. As I said earlier, the only way to get into the football playoffs is to finish first or maybe second in your conference. Again the answer is to use the basketball model. Expand the playoff. Sixteen or even 32 teams would be awesome IMO. The FCS does it. There’s no reason why the BCS can’t.

Q. Rzrbck wants to know: When does football camp begin and is it open to the public like the good ole days? Have company coming to town and doing entertainment planning…

A. I hope you and your company have fun but it won’t be watching football practices. Fall practices have rarely been open to the public. Certainly not these days. The media gets to watch most days for 15 or 20 minutes and that’s it.

Q. bkjacks asks: What are your thoughts on the freshman QB Singleton? I think he will get some major minutes this year.

A. Malachi Singleton really impressed me this past spring. I knew he was a good running quarterback but he’s got a good arm and makes good decisions. He throws the ball effectively on the run. But major minutes? The only way that happens is if KJ Jefferson gets hurt and Jacolby Criswell is ineffective. Hopefully none of that happens. Singleton will probably redshirt. He might get some playing time against Western Carolina, Kent State and Florida International.

Q. codeHog wants to know: How does the football field look? Do we have new grass?

A. No. You’re probably thinking about the soccer field. They just got new grass put down. A couple of years ago there was a concert at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Garth Brooks announced they he would pay for new grass since a stage was set up on the field and there were fans all over the field. After it was over it was determined that no damage had been done so the grass was not replaced. But it looks good. Arkansas has really good grass people working for the physical plant. They keep all of the grass fields looking great.

Q. redleg says: In 2011 Joe Adams won the first annual Jet Award as the nation’s best return specialist. In 2012, the Jet Award began presenting trophies retroactively to past return specialists. They have yet to give out their award for 1964…

…..which, in my opinion should absolutely go to Ken Hatfield! What are your thoughts on this, and is there any way the UA could lobby for Hatfield to get this honor?

A. The sports information department usually lobbies for this kind of stuff so absolutely they could. When the award for the ’64 season comes up I’ll try to find out what Arkansas’ athletic department has planned. There is no question Hatfield was the best punt returner in 64. He certainly deserves that honor.

Q. robs4516 says: Coach Pittman and Kennedy have the reputation of being two of the best O Line coaches in college football. What do you think it is about their coaching that gained that distinction?

A. Pittman already had a reputation before he came to Arkansas. By the time he left for Georgia he was already considered one of the best O-line coaches in college football. But it was at Georgia where he really rose to the top which was the main reason why he got the head coaching job at Arkansas. Cody Kennedy started his career as a DII O-line coach and ended up as a grad assistant under Pittman at Georgia. He then went to Tulane and Southern Miss before ending up back with Pittman, this time at Arkansas. He was a semi-finalist for the Broyles award in 2021. Last season Arkansas had just over 3,000 yards rushing, the highest total since 2007, Darren Mc Fadden’s junior year.

What about their coaching gained distinction? They get results.

Q. HangTenHog says: We don’t really hear a lot about him these days, but I’ve always felt that Gary Anderson was a special talent at running back. Any interesting memories of his playing days?

A. The ’81 Texas-Arkansas game. Anderson played a key role in Arkansas 42-11 win over the number one Longhorns. He was a speed back, one of those guys who rarely turned the afterburners completely on but when he did it was mind blowing how fast he was.

John McDonnell talked Anderson into running in an indoor track meet just to see what he could do. Anderson took the baton on the third leg of a relay. Arkansas was dead last. He went up the high banked first turn and coming down on the backstretch he blew by everybody in the blink of an eye.

McDonnell was astonished.

Q.Brad Hodges asks: Will the wide receiver room be SEC good this season?

A. The hype is good. Isaiah Sategna has blazing speed and good hands. Andrew Armstrong, a transfer from Texas A&M Commerce, Is 6-4 with speed. Caught over a thousand yards in passes last season with 13 touchdowns.

Another transfer, Isaac TeSlaa, he’s also 6-4 with great hands. He had 1,300 yards in catches last season also with 13 touchdowns.

But these guys are all unproven in the SEC. This is one of the things I’ll be checking out the most when August camp starts. All three looked okay in the spring but Arkansas defense limited them somewhat from what I was able to see.

Q. Hogdogger says: We’ve been lucky enough to have great sportscasters. Paul Eells. Chuck Barrett. Both of these are Razorback icons but do you remember Bud Campbell? I’m pretty old so you may not have been around during those days.

A. I missed Bud Campbell by one year. He was killed in a traffic accident in 1974, ’75 was my first year covering the Hogs. However in the ’72 season I was in the Army at Ft. Rucker, living in a trailer house in a little town named Daleville. My buddy who is a Razorback fan came to visit me. It was late October and Arkansas was playing North Texas State. We had both gone to college there so we wanted to listen to the game on the radio. We figured we were out of luck being that far from Arkansas but somehow we found the game on my car radio. Bud Campbell was the announcer. Arkansas won in a blow out like 42 to something. So I am familiar with his work. He was from the golden age of play-by-play radio announcers. Those guys were so good, you felt like you were at the game watching.

Q: G-off says: I enjoyed your five part series on Dave Jorn. I’m guessing you had fun putting it together. What was the best part?

A. The sit down interview session with Jorn, Norm DeBriyn and Dave Van Horn. It was really funny. Lot’s of stories were told.

Q. Mousetown says: I saw this photo on Facebook this week taken at the Rangers Double A stadium in Frisco, Texas. Notice the cupholders. Why can’t they do something like this at Baum-Walker Stadium? Tired of holding my Diet Coke in my lap.

A. The first think I noticed about this photo is the width between the seat rows. There is more space than at Baum-Walker. That’s the only way cup holders on the backs of seats will work. As I said in a question several weeks ago about the absence of cup holders at Baum Walker, Frank Broyles had the seating from first base to third base constructed as tight as possible to get the maximum amount of noise coming from the fans. He had done this with Walton Arena and it worked. There are 19,200 seats in a space than normally seats 15,500. The only way to add cupholders at Baum-Walker would be to take out the seats and install new ones with the cupholders on the armrests. This would result in reduced seating which would change the noise level coming from the stands.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: Which of the coaches were least and best composed after a frustrating loss? Stories?

A. I don’t know that Arkansas has had a coach in my time that lost his composure after a loss. Some, like Lou Holtz, Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino probably showed more frustration than the others. To me that’s not a bad thing. I don’t think most fans want to see a coach who is cool, calm and collected after a frustrating loss.

What you don’t want is to feel like you’re being played. Chad Morris was the worst, by far, at that. That stuff he said after the Western Kentucky loss where he actually tried to make a case that he would be back the next season? Ridiculous. We knew he was gone. He knew he was gone.

On the other hand there was a guy like Joe Kines. He was very honest after losses. Broke down what went wrong. But you could see how that season was wearing him down. He tried to continue to coach the defense after Jack Crowe was fired while handling all the duties of a head coach and it was too much for him.

I still remember him telling us after his last game, a 30-6 win over LSU, Guys I’m exhausted. I’m going home and get some sleep. I’ll answer your questions later.

(Last updated: 2023-07-31 17:41 PM)