Ask Mike: Diamond Hogs Surge to the Top, A Decommit Recommits & Who Has the Most Money in the SEC?

By Mike Irwin
on 2023-05-08 17:22 PM

Q. Our first question is from Boo Jackson who wants to know: Do you have our baseball team figured out? I sure don’t. After that sweep of the Aggies I figured we would stink it up in Starkville. .Sorta like when we swept Tennessee and got swept by Georgia the next week. I apologize for my lack of faith.

A. I “sorta” had the same feeling. Maybe not that Arkansas would get swept but lose the series. So what was different? First of all Georgia is better than Mississippi State. Mississippi State is dead last in pitching and fielding percentage. That’s what did them in against Arkansas. Arkansas is 11th in batting but they teed off on Mississippi State’s pitching. Also the Hogs defense continues to be good in spite of all the lineup shuffling. Finally their pitching was very good against a Mississippi State team that can hit the baseball.

In game one Hagan Smith, Cody Adcock and Gage Wood pitched a combined 2 hitter. Arkansas won 6-2.

Game two, thanks to the offense, Arkansas needed just two pitchers. Brady Tygart tossed two innings of no hit baseball. Will Mc Entire went the remaining five innings, giving up 7 hits and just two runs as the Hogs run-ruled the Bulldogs 14-2 in 7 innings.

Game three, DVH did not get what he wanted out of Hunter Hollan and Adcock. They went a combined 5 innings and gave up six runs. After an 11-3 lead was cut to 11-6, Zack Morris came in and went three innings without giving up a hit. Parker Coil took down Mississippi State
in order in the 9th and there you have it, the formula for a sweep.

Around the SEC the Hogs got some help from Auburn, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Alabama. South Carolina got swept on the road. LSU lost two of three as did Florida and Vanderbilt. As a result Arkansas is back on top in the West and tied for the lead overall.

The sweep put them in good position to secure a national seed with two series left in the regular season.

Q. T.L. Slaten says: No matter what happens from here on out this Arkansas baseball team has won me over. With all these injuries no way should they be tied for the lead in the SEC. DVH is a genius.

A. It’s pretty amazing. Arkansas is 11th in batting, 7th in team ERA and 3rd in defense and here they are tied for the overall lead with Vanderbilt.

The way he’s shifted the lineup with Jared Wegner, Tavier Josenberger, Peyton Stovall and Parker Rowland out at various times, to still get good defense has been impressive. Yes, the hitting has fallen off a bit but they’ve gotten the runs they needed when they needed them.

This Arkansas team has the same conference record at this point as it had in 2021 when the Hogs won the SEC outright.

Unless there’s some sort of collapse over the next two weeks I don’t see how DVH doesn’t end up conference coach of the year and maybe national coach of the year.

Q. Mousetown says: I made the trip to North Little Rock for that disaster of a game against Lipscomb. Those fans deserved better. It was a great crowd but the Razorbacks looked like the didn’t want to be there.

A. What something looks like from the stands may not be reality. You’d have to be in that dugout to know for sure what was happening and why.

They didn’t pitch well and that should not have been unexpected. DVH was not going to use any of the pitchers he needed for the Mississippi State series. It was a lack of timely hitting that caused the loss. Arkansas tied that game up with a three-run 8th. In the 9th and 10th they had chances to win it and didn’t do anything at the plate. In particular, Kendall Diggs, Caleb Cali and Jace Bohrofen, guys who stepped up big in the Mississippi State series, came up short in the Libscomb game. So is that really an issue? I mean I get it that you went to the trouble of traveling to the game but here we sit six days later and Arkansas is at the top of the SEC standings. I think 99.999% of our fans would take that and be very happy.

Q. WVHogfan says: I know that DVH plays a lot of reserves in the midweek games and the team seems to play uninspired baseball. Therefore, we lose a lot of these games. The question is, do the opponents also play their reserves in these games, or do they play their best so they can boast about beating one of the SEC’s best?

A. It varies. Lipscomb did not use its current weekend pitching rotation but did play five of its better bullpen pitchers and one pitcher that had been in the starting rotation earlier in the season. At the plate their head coach went with his regular starting lineup except at catcher. A lot of coaches will use their back up catcher in a midweek game to give their starter a rest.

So Lipscomb, except for the starting pitchers, pretty much approached the game like it was a conference game. Arkansas did not.

Q. parallaxpig asks: With all the changes coming down in baseball, do you think there will come a time that they will put a pair of trackman goggles on an umpire to “assist” in calling balls and strikes?

A. No to the goggles however there may come a time when trackman is used for balls and strikes. You’d still need an ump behind the plate for everything but balls and strikes.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy wants to know: Any progression on the plan to renovate Bud Walton arena? If it moves forward will the press keep it’s current location?

A. The athletic department has released some drawings of changes it hopes to make which would add club seating with an eating and entertainment area under the current skyboxes on the south side.

It looks like the capacity of the arena would be slightly reduced as a result of this renovation. The plan also appears to increase the number of student seats by moving student seating to the lower northside of the arena behind the team benches. There has been no explanation of what would happen to the current season ticket holders who sit on that side of the arena.

I assume the media will stay at the top of the southeast lower level just under the skyboxes there.

Q. Hawgredneck wants to know: When are we gonna hear something on Ron Holland? The suspense is messing with my head.

A. As of today Holland still has not been released from his Letter of Intent with the University of Texas. Schools cannot contact him until he has his release.
It is anticipated that he will be granted that release but Texas still has several days before they have to decide. If for some reason they deny his request he can appeal for a waver from the NCAA which would probably be granted on the basis of the head coach who signed him no longer being the head coach.

Most of the skuttlebutt has his decision down to Arkansas or the NBA G League with Arkansas having the edge. We should know something within a couple of weeks.

Q. RazorAlex88 asks: What are your thoughts on Var’Keyes Gumms from North Texas committing, decommitting, and then recommitting? It’s like a game of hot and cold. Hopefully he’ll remain committed but I’m sure if he decommits one more time there will be no more chances.

A. I’m pretty sure that if Sam Pittman had an issue with him recommitting it would not have happened. Even though this has put Var’Keyes in a negative light, his explanation make sense to me. He said he was worried that had decided to quickly. He wanted to check out Cal. He made an official visit there and decided he made he right decision in the first place.

He’s rated as one of the top tight ends in the portal and they really need an experienced player in that room so I figure it’s a done deal this time.

Q. sgiles says: I saw a list of the various SEC schools in terms of profitability. They were ranked one through sixteen to reflect the addition of Texas and Oklahoma starting in 2024. The Horns were number one, the Sooners number three. Should I be worried?

A. Profitability not only reflects incoming revenue but expenses. So A&M for instance, is still playing off that half a billion dollar addition to their stadium so for the time being they’re down farther on the list than some would have thought.

As for Texas, they’ve have more money than anybody else in college sports forever and what have they won? Some spring or Olympic sports titles but nothing in basketball and it’s been years since they won it all in baseball and football.

The school I’d worry about is Oklahoma. They have money and they know how to spend it with results.

Q. Eddy Lynn asks: As far as the everyday process of doing your job, who is the worst coach you’ve covered at Arkansas and who was the best?

A. I’ll start with the best. Frank Broyles wins that hands down. He helped the media do it’s job because as he once said to me, the worst publicity is no publicity. He went out of this way to honestly explain what was going on even when there was a controversy involved. He never dodged a question of tried to BS me.

He also gave the media full access to his practices. None of this 20 minutes and leave stuff that everybody is doing these days.

So who is the worst coach in terms of us trying to do our jobs? That would be Chad Morris. All coaches here since the last two years of the Houston Nutt era have pretty much limited the media to press conference with lots of closed practices and scrimmages. But with Morris even press conferences were a waste of time. Almost nothing was said by Morris or his two coordinators that was of any real value to us.

(Last updated: 2023-05-08 17:22 PM)