Rough Sunday for the Diamond Hogs, A Dean Weber Story & Is Muss Leaving?

By Mike Irwin
on 2024-02-19 18:19 PM

Q. Our first question is from Armon Abbe who asks: How many Arkansas fans have stopped watching the basketball team? I like baseball and the Diamond Hogs are highly ranked but I still watched the basketball game and switched to baseball when it was over.

A. Unless you went to the baseball game the only way to see it was on ESPN3. I can’t give you any hard statistics on how many Arkansas fans have ESPN3 so it would be impossible to answer your question but I would think that most fans who has access to ESPN 3 would have switched back and forth. It was the second half of the basketball game when the baseball game started and because it was close I think a lot of fans would watch basketball and switch to the baseball during time outs just keep up with the score in the baseball game. When it was over they watched the rest of the baseball game.

Q. Stuttgart Hog says: Our fans who keep complaining that the basketball team has given up must not be watching the games. That or they are stupid. I thought our guys played their butts off against Mississippi State. Makhi Mitchell is getting better every week. We had that game won but the refs took it away from us. The SEC office treats us like Vanderbilt.

A. There is no question that this team has been playing better defense for about three weeks and it has actually improved offensively since Trevon Brazile stopped playing with a knee injury. Saturday, with Jalen Graham out with a shoulder injury, Makhi Mitchell stepped up big time. Clearly this team has not given up. Fans who say that are just mad but look, it’s been years since Arkansas had a losing record this late in the season so for some it’s new ground. Their frustration is understandable.

Ragnar says: Some of the radio guys are now saying there’s a possibility that Musselman is gone after the season. Do they have proof of that? Sounds like they’re after ratings.

A. I don’t know which radio guys you’re referring to but there’s always a possibility that any coach would leave. With regard to Musselman I first heard from a source a month ago that he was looking into the Louisville job. I’ve said for a couple of weeks that I was also told if the Arizona St. or UCLA jobs opened up he might be interested but there’s nothing specific on that. I was also told by third source, a booster, that Muss’s agent is floating his name because he needs more NIL money to bring in a new class of transfers and the additional money is not there right now.

Sources can be wrong. Plus, with Arkansas’ current record, this is not a good time for Musselman to be looking around. If he really wants to leave it seems like he would be better off turning things around and then start looking. But I could see a school like Louisville being interested now.

Q. Hogdogger says: I hope Muss sticks around and doesn’t get discouraged by some of our so called fans. Not sure what was going on with Devo either. He made a commitment to go on radio but failed to show up or call to explain why. Not a good look.

A. Two separate issues here. If Muss left I don’t think it would be because of some fans complaining on the Internet. All schools have those. With regard to Devo, my guess is, he didn’t want to go on the radio and discuss why he left the team and why he came back. Yes, he should have explained that to the radio station but I don’t think the fact that he didn’t is a huge issue with most of the fans. They just want this team to play better basketball.

Q. Marty Byrde’s proxy says: Regarding “the survey” (about BWA) I found there to be no option for, “make needed structural and cosmetic changes only.” Many of us would have preferred that, and leave the seating mostly intact. All the options presented look to scramble everything. What are your thoughts? Is it a done deal?

A. I don’t think it’s a done deal because Yurachek doesn’t have the money to do what he wants. I do think he has made up his mind to add some additional luxury seating once he does get the money. Apparently there are some other options he wants to explore so he included them in the survey to get an idea of how the ticket holders would react. I have not seen a copy of this survey but hopefully there is a way to write in the option of updating the existing infrastructure. Fix the roof. Fix the heating and air conditioning system. Leave the rest of it alone.

Q. Smalltownhog95 asks: Do you know if part of Nate Thompson’s job as a hitting coach is to shake a towel around in the dugout like a madman when we take the field? I’m assuming he’s trying to communicate something to the fielders or signal a shift but I don’t think I’ve seen any other teams do it that way. Could you clarify?

A. He is in charge of shifting Arkansas outfielders when needed based on the batter. Dave Van Horn does the same thing to Arkansas infielders. So yes, waving different colored towels is a signaling process.

Q. Razorback Road wants to know: What is your overall evaluation of the Diamond Hogs after opening weekend? First two games were fine but Sunday’s lopsided loss was embarrassing. Who the hell is James Madison?

A. After winning 15-5 on Saturday it’s possible that Arkansas players went into the Sunday game overconfident. James Madison’s coach did a very smart thing. He was saving his best two pitchers for a winnable game. Arkansas got sloppy in the first three innings. Had some baserunning blunders. Wasted some scoring opportunities.

When James Madison finally got to Mason Molina with a pair of runs in the 4th to tie it up, Marlin Ikenberry brought in Joe Vogatsky who was drafted last year but chose to come back. He had a .334 ERA and was 4-1 with five saves. Teams batted just .217 against him and he basically shut Arkansas down.

Ikenberry also starting playing small ball. Two base hit bunts and a walk loaded the bases in the 7th. Their best hitter came to the plate. He punched the ball up the middle and into center field and Arkansas baseball fell apart after that, allowing four runs in the inning and another one in the 9th to lose the game 7-3.

Not a good look for the Razorbacks but nobody goes undefeated in baseball. It’s a different kind of sport from football and basketball.

Who is James Madison? Well, they are a Sunbelt team out of Harrisonburg, Virginia. They play in a 1,200 seat stadium featuring artificial turf. They average about 1,000 fans a game. Last year they finished 7th out of 14 teams in the Sunbelt with a 15-13 record ahead of Arkansas State which was 12th at 9-19.

Q. Mousetown asks: Why did I know this was coming? If you’ve got a Hog on your uniform and you are top 10 you will blow it.
The baseball season is just getting started and it’s already looking like basketball season.

A. Baseball is not like other sports. Any team can lose to a mid major no matter how high they are ranked. It happens a lot. Seven SEC teams lost a game over the weekend, four of them in the top ten. No. 2 Florida, No. 6 Vandy and No. 9 Tennessee in the East. No. 3 Arkansas, Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the West. Ole Miss actually lost two games.
Arkansas did bounce back on Monday to shut out JMU 4-0.

Calm down Mousetown before you have a heart attack.

Q. sgiles says: You’ve had complaints the last two shows about Mike Neighbors and women’s basketball not getting enough respect. I’ve heard his job is in jeopardy. Which is it?

A. I am told his job is safe. Arkansas is currently is in 7th place with a 6-6 conference record,18-9 overall with four games left. They should beat Vandy in Fayetteville but lose to South Carolina. They’ll likely lose to Ole Miss in Oxford. So Thursday’s game in College Station should decide if Arkansas stays at .500 in SEC play and wins 20 games in the regular season.

Q. Dr. Strangepork asks: What preliminary signs, steps or vibes have you seen/felt happen first before a coach is let go? Are they a similar pattern or different depending upon the sport? To me it seems that non-revenue sports coaches tend to resign while revenue sports coaches are fired.

A. If there’s a pattern, I haven’t figured it out. Two days before Lou Holtz was fired I was told his job was safe. On the other hand when Bret Bielema was fired I knew three weeks before it happened. I was totally shocked when Mike Anderson was let go. Everybody knew that John Pelphrey was going to get the ax. The same for Chad Morris but I had no idea that Jack Crowe was about to be fired one game into the ’92 season. Each situation is different. The type of sport is irrelevant.

Q. WVHogfan says: Recently, you said you had doubts if Arkansas could beat Oklahoma State this coming year. I have a different opinion. Recent history when we played Big 12 schools in a home and home basis, we won the first game away. This happened at Texas Tech, at TCU, and at BYU. It was the return visit to Fayetteville where we struggled.

A. In other words you believe the curse of the return game when it comes to Big 12 schools. Well, I’m not superstitious and my opinion on that game is based on the fact the Oklahoma State returns a loaded offense from a season ago. Their fans are also ticked off at the SEC for adding Texas and Oklahoma and leaving Oklahoma State high and dry. That move eliminated their biggest rivalry game, the so called Bedlam series with Oklahoma. They can’t get back at the Sooners but they can made a statement to the SEC by embarrassing the Hogs on TV. The environment for that game is gonna be super, super tough.

Q. Hog in Iowa says: I’m so sorry to learn of Dean Weber’s passing Tuesday night. I’ve heard former players tell their favorite Weber stories from their interactions. Do you have any? He seemed to be quite the character.

A. Dean was somewhat of a neat freak. He liked his training room to be clean and organized. He was always complaining to me that the grounds around the athletic department were too junky. One day he pointed out a large pile of discarded football and track equipment under the west stands of the football stadium.

Then he showed me a long facia board tucked on top of the metal supports under the bleachers in the south endzone. It was fairly east to see. He said the board had blown off the front of his condo in a wind storm. After his insurance company had fixed the damage Dean decided to put the original board under the south stands at eye level to see how long it would stay here before somebody noticed. Then he said, “You know how long it’s been there? FOUR YEARS!. Four years and it will probably still be there after another four years if I don’t get rid of it.”

Q. Linda Lavinder wants to know: When is mousetown going to apologize for throwing shade on our softball team? Courtney said he is mean. Courtney is right.

A. I actually spoke with mousetown about this issue and he says he is tired of watching Arkansas teams in multiple sports fail to live up to their top 10 ranking. He says they can’t handle pressure. Then he said, “bring back Nolan. That man’s players knew how to handle pressure. They thrived on it.”

(Last updated: 2024-02-19 18:19 PM)