Ask Mike: Diggs’ Big Slump, Holt Rope-A-Dope’s a Gator and Another “Cal’s a Player’s Coach” Story

By Mike Irwin
on 2024-04-29 20:38 PM

Q. Our first question is from Mousetown who says: I’m gonna defend Arkansas hitters some this week. Florida’s may have had the worst ERA in the SEC but the guys I saw on the mound for them looked really good. Still, If Molina had pitched game three we would have swept them.

A. That ERA number of 6.33 was misleading. They have a lot of freshmen pitchers with talent that got thrown into the fire early and they got lit up. Especially some of the midweek pitchers. But several of those guys are starting to pitch really well. So mousetown is right. If you watched the game you saw some guys with ERA’s in the 6’s & 7’s who looked really good against the Hogs.

Florida has had a strange season. 22-21 overall. 9-12 in The SEC. Got swept by Missouri. But they also took two of three from Texas A&M. Two of three from Miami. Two of three from Mississippi State. They have Tennessee and Kentucky coming up in Gainesville. They are a much better team at home and could help the Hogs if their pitching continues to improve.

Q. KYHog says: I will be holding my breath all weekend. Arkansas vs Kentucky and I will be there. I’m a huge Hog fan but I don’t see them winning the series or the series at Texas A&M. Sorry. I have to be honest. We don’t have the hitting.

A. Kentucky has lost back to back series. There are signs that their pitching is starting to go south. Arkansas needs to take advantage. Winning the Friday game would be huge.

Q. ClaytonHog wants to know: I mean at what point is Diggs not in this lineup? He hasn’t even been competitive for 2.5 months. You have to get him outta there.

A. He’s too valuable in right field to bench. I still think he will break out of this slump. But this is where your hitting coach comes in. Break down his at bats, pitch by pitch. There’s reasons why he’s not hitting. Figure it out.

Q. Axle asks: Are the announcers for SEC baseball paid by the network or by the home team school? Some do a pretty decent job but some are just terrible.

A. Each school does get a flat fee from ESPN to help out but the school pays the majority of the costs for announcers and crew. They also supply the equipment. Arkansas does a good job because the two on air guys are fair to both schools. Some I’ve seen are total homers. But the real problem is not the on air talent but with the directors. They’re the people who punch the buttons and decide what we see on the screen. I’m convinced that a lot of these people see themselves as creative artists, painting a picture with the shots they punch up. So we randomly see pointless wide shots from odd angles where you can barely see the pitch. They also go nuts over graphics and replays. Those things are fine if we still see each pitch but too many times we don’t.

Then there are the interviews with the two coaches and the winning pitcher from the day before and the questions they get asked is often about subjects that have nothing to do with the game in progress.

Q. Coach Cal was back in town over the weekend. Hogs plus tweeted: Coach Cal’s first pitch was a perfect strike. Somebody get him a jersey.

A. A funny video of him warming up and joking with the kid who was going to catch his pitch. Yea, it was a straight up string and his form was excellent. He was wearing that same red coaching jacket he was wearing in is introductory press conference with the media. He hasn’t had time to do anything but recruit, but the main thing was he had fun interacting with the fans.

Q. Former Kentucky player Antonio Burks says: This is why most players love Cal. (He) gave me over 6 figures once. I got shot and went broke. Paid my bills up for 6 months too. Yes we bleed blue but we definitely riding with our coach unless we play him.

A. This is a story a lot of fans don’t know about. Burks was shot in the summer of 2009 in Memphis. The shooting occurred when Burks was playing for the Memphis Grizzlies. The guy shot him in the stomach and tried to shoot him in the head but his gun jammed. He got like 97 years in prison. You can see from this story why Cal’s ex player love the guy.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy asks: How much input will Coach Cal have on this coming season’s basketball schedule? Or is it all already set?

A. He has no say in the SEC schedule. That is pretty much set except for a decision on which schools each school play twice. There is speculation that the SEC office will schedule Arkansas and Kentucky twice for TV ratings purposes.

Cal will have a say in the school’s November and December schedule including tournaments Arkansas will play in.

Q. Hogdogger says: The NCAA is afraid of getting sued about NIL. Cant they pattern NIL after NFL contracts? The NFL contracts players for money and they don’t get sued.

A. The reason there are no player lawsuits in the NFL is because the players are unionized. Every arrangement between the team owners and the players is negotiated. The union puts proposals up for a vote and if a majority of players say yes, we accept that then the players and the owners are good. I’m convinced that this is the key to solving all of these NIL and transfer portal issues. Form a college sports player’s union. The union negotiates with the NCAA and he two do some good ole fashioned horse trading. If they don’t make this happen college sports is going to implode. Clearly that’s not good for the schools, the fans or the players.

Q. WVHogfan says: Back before the scholarship limit, the larger and richer schools would sign 100 plus top athletes to scholarships in order to keep their competitors from getting the athletes. Today the richer schools are buying the best players to get the best athletes. Regardless what rules the NCAA proposes won’t the larger richer schools find a way to continue getting the top athletes?

A. If they break the rules yes….but we’ve got to get a system in place that will allow the NCAA to enforce it’s rules without the threat of lawsuits. Personally I think we’ll get there…probably with the proposed super division that we have discussed. So yes there will always be cheaters but we need an NCAA that first of all will investigate and punish the cheaters regardless of who they are and secondly will do so without being handicapped by the judicial system.

Q. Natstrange 73 says: I am just gonna put this out there. You want dollars for NIL @ArkRazorbacks? Put on ladies clinics. Football. Basketball. Baseball (never seen one of those) We will bring it. We are Hog fans as well.

A. The actually have done this right and have plans to do it some more?

Q. tophawg19 wants to know: Why does Mike Neighbors still have a job? He has lost all his best players. Why does he have such a big buyout ? He hasn’t won a NCAA tournament game in 7 years here. We may save money on buy out but at what cost to the fan base and ticket sales?

A. We get asked this almost every week and the answer remains the same. He doesn’t have huge buyout but it’s money the athletic department can use for other things. The same decision was made with regard to Sam Pittman. We’ll see next season if either of those decisions pay off. But as far as losing revenue for ticket sales in basketball, attendance hasn’t been affected much as far as I can see. The people who watch women’s basketball seem to be pretty loyal regardless of wins and losses. Now if they were to be a top 5 program maybe that would change but to get a coach that can do that, it would likely cost a lot of money and again it’s money they don’t have right now.

Q: Eddy Lynn asks: What do they put in the water at Greenwood? I’m a Texas boy. Never been to Greenwood but that place keeps cranking out top quality Razorbacks. The latest? Peyton Holt with his rope-a-dope catch in centerfield. Got him a Gator Courtney.

A. That was awesome. There is a word for that but I prefer to say that he rope-a-doped they kid on third. Was huge on Sportscenter. Got Arkansas a lot of good publicity. Greenwood, keep those future Razorbacks coming in our direction.

(Last updated: 2024-04-29 20:38 PM)