Burks Silences Critics, The Mike Leach Plan & Was Paul Eells A Comedian?

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Q. Our first question is from s-giles who wants to know: Are all those ignorant Titans fans and their clueless media ready to admit they didn’t know what they were talking about with the rip job they did on Treylon Burks? They just found out that when it comes to gettin’ ready for the season Mr. Burks is all business. Wait’ll they see what happens next.

A. We’re talking NFL here where players get ripped all the time. In this case most of those complaining did little or no research on or Burks. That’s the way it is. The good thing is, NFL players get paid good money to get ripped. Treylon is a man. He handled just fine. Like you posted, when it came time to get real, he got real.

However Jimmy Morris, who is the editor in charge of SB Nation’s Tennessee site, does not have an excuse for doing no research before he decided to blame Burks early conditioning problems last spring on Sam Pittman. In a radio interview with a Tennessee station Pittman basically said Burks had battled allergy problems before. He’d had conditioning problems in spring football at Arkansas. But when August camp rolled around he was always full go.

The writer took that and proceeded to go off on Pittman for the poor showing a Titan’s 2020 first round pick had. Isaiah Wilson was coached by Pittman at Georgia. He bombed out at Tennessee, got traded to Miami. and they dumped him after three days. Morris blamed that all on Pittman and compared Burks to Wilson which is idiotic.

Wilson had off the field issues. A high speed chase with speeds of up to 140 mph resulted in his arrest after he wrecked his car. Wilson also broke various team rules. Burks has no such personal conduct problems and Morris is starting to look silly after Burks made some eyepopping catches in the first two days of preseason camp. He’s in shape. He’s got the speed and quickness we’ve all seen. In short, he’s doing what he did at Arkansas. Burning D-Backs.

Q. Lanny asks: What’s your evaluation of Pittman at SEC Media days? Seems like he hits home runs every time he does the Media Days thing.

A. He’s only been to two of them. They didn’t have it in 2020 because of COVID, but you’re dead on. I’ve never seen a head coach do a better job in front of the SEC Media. He checks all the boxes.

Some media types go there for funny stories. Pitt’s story about replacing a Dolphins statue with a Hog statue at the water’s edge of a lake home he owns in Hot Springs is just the kind of stuff they’re looking for.

Then there are what I call the set up guys. They try to get a head coach to go a little overboard after he’s had a nice season the year before. Then, if there’s a drop off that fall, they come back with the Media Days quotes which make the coach look bad.

Pittman was asked, “After a nine win season in year two has your team arrived?” He avoided the set up with a simple “no.”

Finally there are the X’s & O’s guys. They’re my kind of media types. They want to get into the nuts and bolts of the upcoming football season, which to me, is what Media Days should be all about.

I had a friendly bet with a friend that nobody would ask Pittman the most important question going into September. What about the passing game? How do you replace Treylon Burks?

Technically nobody asked that question but one writer did ask Pittman to identify the biggest issue his team has for the 2022 season. Pittman laid out the situation at receiver.

He did a great job in Atlanta.

Q. A recent Yahoo sports article suggested that Jimbo Fisher already knows that the SEC is going to a pod system and that Texas, LSU and Mississippi State are going to be A&M’s permanent opponents.

Intox wants to know: Do you think there’s any validity to this? Any guesses yet or rumblings over there on the hill on who our permanent opponents may be? I think we get stuck with Mizzou no matter what.

A. He said that at SEC Media Days. He probably wasn’t supposed to discuss it but he did. The interesting thing about it to me is, that if he’s right, Arkansas will not be in the same pod with the Aggies. It also appears that the SEC pod system will take geography into consideration. Texas and LSU are no brainer choices. Those schools already have rivalries with each other but they are also within reasonable driving distance for their fans. Throw in Mississippi State and you have four teams that would logically make up an SEC Southwest pod.

On a previous Ask Mike I laid out the teams that I felt like would be in the four pods. Texas, A&M, LSU & Mississippi State were in one of my pods.

The logical choice for an SWC northwest pod would be, Mizzou, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Ole Miss. So I think the battle line trophy will remain but anybody with a brain knows that Arkansas-OU would quickly become the blood rival Arkansas had not had since leaving the SWC.

But I don’t think this plan is written in stone.

There’s a basic issue with the pod Jimbo mentioned. It breaks up the annual Egg Bowl game between Ole Miss and Mississippi State and the Red River shootout between Texas and OU.

We’ll find out soon enough but Jimbo did give the media something to think about with what he said.

Q. robs4516 says: Coach Pittman said at media days that the d-line would be better this year. What do you think he sees? Coaching, better talent?

Also can you get Alyssa to be a bit more animated? Maybe wave her arms around a bit more? Thanks.

A. Well he lost all of his starters from 2021 so initially you might be thinking, What is he talking about?

I think you start with Doran Gerald. We thought he had given up football or was going to transfer with all the injuries he had. But he’s okay now and back on campus. This guy will be a 6th year senior. He’s been very active in summer drill and by all accounts a leader in the D-Line room. Pittman also brought a transfer from Arkansas State and a top JUCO player plus returning guys like Isaiah Nichols and Taylor Lewis.

On the edge he’s added an impressive 4-star pass rusher from LSU and a 3-star D-end from Georgia Tech who they really like.

There will be question marks until this bunch proves itself but Pittman is high on them.

Q. MetropolisHog says: Let’s look into the future. There are two super conferences in the SEC and B1G, however many teams that ends up being. How do you think recruiting will be handled? Will it be the same or do you see it being changed more like a draft like the NFL has?

A. You must be referring to the Mike Leach plan. I don’t think he was serious but he sure did expose the issues related to uncontrolled NIL deals, problems created by the transfer portal and those who say college athletes should have the same rights to make money as pro athletes.

Basically Leach proposed putting athletes in to two separate categories: Traditional scholarship student athletes and a new group of professional college athletes.

The student athletes would assume a traditional role. They would work 20 hours a week in their sport and go to classes with tuition, room and board paid and about a thousand dollars a month in spending money.

College pro athletes would go into a draft pool out of high school. They would have to play for the school that drafted them. They would not be required to go to school. Tuition would not be provided. They would pay for their own room and board. They would sign a paid four-year contract. They could not transfer without permission but they could be traded to another school. They could also be cut from the team for poor performance or any type of off the field issues.

Once you look at it like this, the idea of getting paid like a professional athlete looks a lot less appealing.

Q. John Harris wants to know: What are the chances of retaining our football coordinators for a 4th year?

A. If Arkansas has another 9 win season or better I think Kendal Briles might be line for a head coaching job that he likes.

I’m not saying that Barry Odom won’t get another shot at a program he feels good about but I think it will be harder since he was already a head coach and was fired at Mizzou. Also he has a son at Shiloh Christian who is already committed to Arkansas and has three years of high school left. So unless he got offered a coordinators job that he thought was a better opportunity than Arkansas I think Odom says for a while. Also as a coordinator, your boss is a huge factor in how happy you are and according to Odom he could not have a better boss job than Pittman.

With the way he left Georgia to be with Pittman and the way Pittman stood by him in a difficult first season I don’t see special team’s coordinator Scott Fountain going anywhere either unless it’s as a head coach.

Q. Arkie Redneck asks: What did you think about the Arkansas basketball workout you lucky media guys were able to see last week? Are these guys as talented as they seem to be? The video was amazing.

A. I was on vacation. I saw it, just like most of you, in the various video clips that were online after it was over. It looked great but you really needed to be there and see the whole thing to properly evaluate it. However CJ Maclin, was there. He’s the basketball expert on our staff. He says it was really, really impressive. He sees no weak spots on this team. It won’t be long until we start finding out. The Razorbacks leave for Italy in a few days where they’ll play four games. Kind of a sneek peek at the upcoming season.

Q. mousetown asks: Is there going to be any way to watch the basketball games coming up in Italy? A fan on Twitter claims the games will be streamed on something called Flo Sports with coach Z as the announcer. Is that true or just a wild rumor?

A. It’s happening. Flo Sports will stream all four games. Its $29.99 to sign up for the first month. You can cancel after that. Brett Dolan and Matt Zimmerman will call the games remotely from NW Arkansas.

Here’s the schedule:
Game one is on Tuesday of next week against a team from Valencia, Spain at 12:30 pm central time here in Arkansas.

Two days later the Hogs take on a team from Barcelona, Spain at 1:30 in the afternoon Arkansas time.

Saturday they move over to Como, Italy to play a team there at 12:30 our time.

The following Monday they finish it off, still in Italy, against a team from Denmark. That game will be at noon our time.

It should be fun but beware. Flo sports is well known for having technical issues with its streaming service.

Q. Muss Enthusiast says: this is my first time actually being able to ask you a question. With major Razorback sports over until Early September, could you give me your top ten moments of this Year?

A. I assume you mean for the 2021-2022 academic year. So here goes.

Number 10: Arkansas softball’s first SEC Tournament title. A perfect 3-0 in Gainesville.

Number 9: Arkansas beats A&M in football ending that horrible losing streak to the Aggies.

Number 8: Arkansas baseball sweeping North Carolina in the Chapel Hill Super Regional. Punching their ticket to the college world series.

Number 7: Arkansas softball’s first NCAA regional title which led to first its super regional appearance.

Number 6: Arkansas’ CWS opening win vs. Stanford. A huge win for Connor Noland too. The Hogs destroyed the national 2 seed.

Number 5: Arkansas Outback Bowl win over Penn State. The Hogs first bowl win since 2015.

Number 4: Arkansas beats Oklahoma State in Stillwater to advance to the NCAA Super regionals. That final game was something to see.

Number 3: Arkansas’ basketball win over top ranked Auburn in Bud Walton. A record crowd that day, serving notice that Bud Walton is back, baby.

Number 2: Arkansas’ wipe out of Texas at DWRRS. AN OLD RIVAL GOES DOWN BIG TIME. The fans storm the field. Hog fans love beating Texas.

Number 1: Arkansas Sweet Sixteen basketball win over top ranked Gonzaga sending the Hogs to the Elite Eight for the second straight season.

Q. Alex4Hogs88 says: I have reason to believe that Mason Neville will become one of my personal favorite Diamond Hogs. That video he made made me a huge fan of him. I can’t wait to see him play and hopefully help us to that national championship! Who makes it on your Mount Rushmore of favorite Diamond Hogs?

A. In the context you suggest, the list would not necessarily be the best Hog baseball players of all time but good players who are fun to be around and who embody the spirit of Razorback baseball.

I’d go with Joe Serrano. A really sharp guy who understood the game and could explain it was well as anybody I knew. I loved talking baseball with him and a lot of other stuff.

Pitcher Scott Cunningham from the George Cole Field days was also one of my favorites. He’s my brother-in-law’s son. Tony Cunningham was an all state football player at Farmington back in the 60s, a Marine Viet Nam war vet and one of the biggest Hog fans out there. Scott Cunningham was a class act as a Razorback.

Then there is Andrew Benintendi. I hate it that he was just traded to the Yankees. He a great player and a super nice guy. Everything you want a Razorback to be.

Those are my Mt. Rushmore players.

Q. Hog in Iowa says: It seems the Hogs dodged a couple of bullets in that the MLB draft did not take all of our most highly rated commitments, even though they picked off a couple. Who were the
SEC teams that got hit the hardest?

A. LSU, no question. They had the number one recruiting class in the country and it looks like they lost five of them. However they anticipated that and brought in six players out of the portal expected to take the sting out of that loss.

Arkansas was typical. They lost an incoming freshman and a portal transfer but as you mentioned they came out of the draft in good shape.

Tennessee lost just one transfer while Ole Miss lost a 2nd round pitcher and a 4th round outfielder. As nearly as I was able to determine A&M didn’t lose any signees or portal transfers.

Q. Dr. Strangepork wants to know: With Sunday being the sad anniversary of the passing of Paul Eells – you got any stories about Paul? How odd that he and Bud… both The Voice of the Razorbacks…. passing due to car wrecks.

Q. It is ironic that the two most popular play-by-play announcers ever at Arkansas both died in car wrecks.
When I was in the Army in Alabama the only football games I could get on the radio were from Arkansas. Being a SWC guy I needed my football fix. That’s when I became familiar with Bud Campbell and he was really good. I also liked the way he kept up with what was going on in other games. I hate it that I was never able to meet him. He was killed less than a year before I arrived in Arkansas to begin covering the Hogs.

Paul Eells. What a great guy. Maybe one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. I never knew him to say anything bad about anybody, even people who deserved it.

What a lot of people don’t know is that he was a great kidder and knew how to play along with a joke.

One evening before a Razorback basketball game I pulled into a gas station on MLK a few blocks from the arena. I saw Paul pulling away just as I drove up. When I got the the game I decided to have some fun with him regarding his nice guy image. I saw him in the media break room and our conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey Paul, what did you say to that guy down at the gas station?

Paul: What guy?

Me: I pulled up right after you left and this guy asked me if that was Paul Eells just leaving. When I said yes, he said, I thought he was supposed to be a nice guy. Let me tell you what he did. Just as I was about to pull up to the only available pump he cut in front me and when I protested he said, HEY I’M PAUL EELLS AND I’M IN A HURRY SO YOU CAN JUST WAIT.

Paul: Oh that guy. Yeah he got mad but like I said to him, I’m the voice of the Razorbacks. You got it. THE VOICE OF THE FREAKING RAZORBACKS. So wait until I’m finished.

Then we both broke out laughing.

Paul would never in a million years say something like that but he knew how to play along with my kidding. I was always trying to make him mad with these made up stories, each crazier than before. I never succeeded.


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