Softball Bracket Talk, Sunday Baseball Blues & The NCAA’s Plan For NIL Abuse
Q. Ask Mike is back after two weeks off. We missed last week’s show because Mike tested positive for COVID. Glad you are back. Tell us about spending eight days in what you called “COVID Jail.”
A. Really, really mild symptoms. For about three days I thought I had a slight head cold. No fever. No congestion. Just a slight case of the sniffles. A very minor sore throat for a couple of days. But when it didn’t go away my wife gave me a COVID home test and I was shocked when I tested positive. I went straight to a clinic to have that confirmed. I was told that I more than likely had the Omicron variant. I got some medication and went home. I was there for 8 days and tested positive again after five days. On the 8th day, I tested negative.
So other than sitting around watching too much TV and reading a few books I was bored out of my skull.
It’s great to be back at work.
Q. We start with women’s softball. Arkansas won the SEC tournament and is a national 4 seed hosting Oregon, Wichita State and Princeton in the Fayetteville Regional this weekend.
WMHawgfan says: Congrats to the ladies. Great year they are having. They are similar to the men’s team last year. Dominant pitching and a lot of bombs in that lineup. Here’s to seeing them in OKC.
A. Looking at the bracket I agree. I think they’ll make it to the College Softball World Series. I don’t see any team in the regional or super regional field opposite them that is tougher than some good teams Arkansas has already beaten. Wichita State is 2nd nationally in home runs and 3rd in team batting but Arkansas is right here with them at 3rd and 4th nationally playing against much tougher competition plus they’ve already beaten Wichita State head to head this season.
Number 16 Washington is a likely opponent in the Fayetteville Super Regional. Yes Arkansas lost twice to them in a tournament in Mexico back in early February but I like the revenge factor. Arkansas is a much better team than it was back then and Washington had dropped some since then.
Primarily Arkansas has been a hitting team this season and while they are not in the top 50 in pitching, thing I like about this team is that in the SEC tournament, with a tournament format, their pitching was sensational. One run given up in three games. If they even come close to that over the next two weekends they will be in Oklahoma City. We’re gonna see some huge crowds at Bogle Park. This is a fun team to watch. They just go and and dominate.
Q. NorthDallas40 says: We are going to win it all this year.
A. Spoken like a true fan but I hope Arkansas baseball fans focus in on what’s ahead in Fayetteville because, as I indicated, it will be fun. Looking ahead to Oklahoma City, that’s an an entirely different level of softball. Oklahoma is scary good. They lead nationally in batting, home runs and team ERA. Unless they get upset along the way, they will be essentially playing at home in the softball World Series.
So worry about them when the time comes. Not now.
Q. Armon Abbe wants to know. How does the baseball team score 17 runs in the first two games and get shut out in game three? Is Vandy’s Sunday guy better than their Friday and Saturday’s starters?
A. Statistically he’s not better than David Futrall, their Friday starter, and Arkansas scored 4 runs on him in five innings. Carter Holton’s conference ERA is 3.7. He two hit Arkansas for 7 full innings and 110+ pitches and shut them out.
To me it’s just one more example of inconsistent hitting by this team. It was a huge game. They needed to step up at the plate and they didn’t.
Stuff like this happens but it happens too much to this team.
Q. John Glover says: We won’t win a regional. Watch Tenner win a natty. God help us.
Q. Keanan Harris objects to that. He says: Can’t win ’em all. See where some are whining about how they still haven’t won a National championship under their current coach. If y’all just knew how many programs would give nearly everything they’ve got to have a coach and program like Arkansas has.
A. I land somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. If you have the facilities and fan base that Arkansas has you’re gonna get criticized when you don’t live up to expectations and so far this team hasn’t. But the season is not over. The hitting has been better lately even though the pitching has dropped off some.
Arkansas needs to do some soul searching and bounce back. They’ve had a big lead in the West for a while. Now it’s gone. They need to jump on Alabama and hope Ole Miss can give ’em some help against the Aggies. The also need to play well in the SEC tournament. A top 8 national seed is still possible but they could also end up in some other team’s regional if they don’t take care of business.
That’s the way it is.
Q. Razorback Redneck asks: What’s your assessment of the Texas A&M backing out of a midweek game with Incarnate Word? I know you don’t care for the Aggies but I don’t get the controversy.
A. I agree. I love to rip the Aggies anytime I can but in this instance it’s perfectly understandable. Just by playing that game, even if they win big, their RPI is going down. So why take a chance? The head coach at Incarnate Word indicated that it was a joint decision. Plus several other teams have followed suit and are cancelling midweek games. Teams need to stop playing midweek games this late in the season. There’s no point.
I must admit that it was funny watching idiot Longhorns fans going after the Aggies over this. Nothing can embarrass those tea sippers. A&M beat Texas head to head in Austin this season. You’re going to trash talk them for not playing Incarnate word?
Just shut up.
Q. BloodRedHog wants to know: Is it possible the Hogs could win the West and not host a regional as a Top 8 seed? Why are we so low in the almighty RPI rankings?
A. Arkansas’ RPI is low because of the decision to play in state schools who weren’t any good at baseball this season. But too much has been made about Arkansas’ RPI by panicked fans and some in the media. If Arkansas wins the SEC West Arkansas will be a national seed. The SEC has that kind of pull.
Q. ERRUHWOOD asks: What’s the deal with the Athletic Department making the Baum East parking lot a RESERVED LOT? First they hose the long time Baseball ticket holders in favor of “new” baseball fans and now it’s PARKING. The Baum East lot is now HALF EMPTY. What’s next? A higher donation minimum to access the rest rooms?
A. We keep getting this question and my answer is the same. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. If you were a loyal fan and you bought season tickets for 20 years and suddenly the price gets jacked up because the demand is there you’re going to be mad. Maybe you’re done going to games. Just watch on TV at home. If you accept seats more down the line but object to paying for what used to be convenient, free parking maybe you park farther away and walk or maybe you stop going to games al all.
On the other hand if you are Hunter Yurachek trying to win at a high level in multiple sports in the most competitive conference in the country you need money to make it work. I You decide your baseball product is undervalued. Supply and demand dictates that you can get more for those tickets and you can charge for what used to be free parking.
As long as the demand is there you’ve helped yourself. But it is a gamble. If the program hits a downturn you might suddenly end up with a lot of unsold seats.
The guy this affects most is Dave Van Horn. He loves those longtime loyal fans who are now mad. But what does he do? Tell Yurachek to back off? DVH is stuck in the middle and has no choice but to stay out of it.
Q. parallaxpig asks: With NCAA proposals to lift caps on scholarships(baseball), are we to assume to comply with title nine, schools will have to raise equal # scholarships in woman’s sports?
A. I don’t see there’s any way to avoid it. Let’s say baseball scholarships go from 11.7 to 20 for each team. That’s a little over 8 additional scholarships. I would expect to see that number spread around on the women’s side using whatever formula that seems best based on existing numbers. It is going to be interesting to see just how many scholarship are added to baseball. Keep in mind that at many power 5 schools baseball doesn’t pay for itself. So there may be a battle between SEC schools like Arkansas, LSU, A&M who drew big crowds and those who don’t.
Q. Oliver Pace says: Muss keeps adding new players to the lineup for next season. At some point does this become counter productive?
A. That’s certainly possible. Especially if Muss continues his trend of playing a seven or eight man rotation. How do you keep all that talent happy? Also, as we’ve seen, talent doesn’t necessarily mean an immediate adjustment when you transfer into to another system. Are many of the new faces going to still be figuring out their roles into January?
How will this infusion of top talent affect a guy like Devo Davis? You struggle a few games on this roster and you might end up on the bench. But the better the competition for playing time the better the team. That’s what I’ve always heard. We’re about to find out if that’s true.
Also the expectations are going to be enormous. Look at the baseball team this season. They’re having a good year but not compared to where most fans had them when the season started.
Q. Jumpty says: According to Kevin McPherson Jaxon Robinson wanted to stay but was told to leave. Is this a bad look for Muss and the program? Especially now that he has to sit out a year. I know we upgraded his position, but I definitely feel bad for the kid.
A. It does look bad but if Arkansas makes it to the Final Four and plays for a national championship most fans will dismiss it as a business decision.
On the other hand it could end up being beneficial for Robinson. He transferred to Arkansas from A&M with immediate eligibility and look what happened. He averaged 3 1/2 points per game in 10 minutes of playing time per game. Maybe if he had sat out a year he would have adjusted better in year two.
Wherever he ends up I wish him success and I think most Arkansas fans feel the same way.
Q. @mousetown wants to know: What do you think of Jay Bilas’ assessment of the pushback by college coaches against unregulated NIL deals? It like he thinks there should be no rules at all.
A. Bilas is a typical ESPN social activist, mixing politics withy sports. He and a lot of others in the national media, along with some fans think this is all about collegiate athletes making as much money as possible and any attempt to regulate NIL deals is an infringement on the rights of college athletes.
He needs read the Supreme court ruling on NIL. It didn’t say anything about boosters forming NIL collectives and throwing wads of cash at athletes to get them to attend a certain school.
The supreme court said that college athletes have a right to make their own NIL deals.
The ruling was to make sure that once an athlete is enrolled on scholarship at a specific university the NCAA or the school he/she attends cannot control his/her NIL.
The NCAA has two basic rules on NIL. The one that is relevant to this discussion states that specific NIL deals can only be offered to athletes after they sign a letter of intent.
Most athletics departments have been observing this rule. A few formed NIL collectives made up of boosters and started offering deals to high school athletes or athletes on scholarship other universities. The NCAA announced that it’s going to start going after school that violate that rule. It’s also very likely that NIL collectives are going to be banned by NCAA rule.
Bilas and others think the NCAA will get challenged in court on this and lose. I don’t agree. There might be some lawsuits filed but I think they will fail.
The true NIL model should be the one in place at Arkansas and other schools. Athletes are taught how to control their NIL by hiring an NIL agent. That athlete becomes an independent businessman. The agent lines up endorsements for the athlete. The school is not involved.
Q. STLhawg asks: Pittman ever sign a new contract? He was talking it up like it was really close a couple weeks ago (or maybe longer) but I haven’t seen anything about making it official yet. Did I miss it perhaps?
A. He’s agreed in principle to a new contract. There are a lot of technical details that go into a final signed contract. It’s not unusual for that to take several months. The bottom line is Sam Pittman is here until he decides to stop coaching. That’s what he said at his last press conference and he’s a man of his word.
Q. L.R. Tackett says: I see where Chad Morris either quit as head coach of Allen High school or he was fired after just one season. Surely this is the end of his coaching career right?
A. Based on what I’ve read so far it looks like he’s going back to the college game as an assistant coach perhaps in the Dallas area. TCU, SMU and North Texas are the schools that have been mentioned. I’ve reached the point where I’m tried of talking about Chad Morris. He was a terrible head coach Arkansas. Worse than John L. Smith. He had success as an assistant coach at Clemson but was not effective at Auburn. He had a bad season at Allen High school.
If a school wants to hire him that’s their business. If he succeeds or fails it means nothing to me. He’s gone from Arkansas and the right man was hired to replace him. I’ll talk about Sam Pittman anytime any place. I’m bored taking about Chad Morris.
Q. Occams Razorback wants to know: Have you any idea on how the SEC will be divided once the horns and sooners enter the league and when that announcement might be made? To me, Texas A&M and Mizzou, as the last two in and as former Big 12 schools should be placed with the other Big 12 schools in Texas and OU.
A. Nobody knows for sure. I’ve speculated that a four pod system will emerge based on school location and rivalries.
I’m guessing that Texas, Texas A&M, LSU and Mississippi State will be in pod as permanent opponents. Oklahoma will be in a pod with Arkansas, Missouri and Ole Miss. Keep in mind that each team would play three games within it’s pod and five outside the pod. Depending on the rotation year to year some teams are going to be dead in the water before the season starts under such a system. Can you imagine Arkansas playing Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky and LSU in addition to Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Missouri?
I favor two eight-team divisions with each team playing the same seven divisional opponents. Crossover games would not count in the conference standing. They would be treated the same as nonconference games.
Q. S-giles wants to know: Who do you despise the most, the Longhorns or Aggies?
A. There no good answer for that. I dislike them equally for different reasons. Longhorn fans are arrogant and that would be fine if they were Alabama. They’re not. Arrogance is annoying when there is no reason for it. Those people live in a dream world and the media is part of the issue.
Check out the various projections for college football this fall. Texas apparently is just going to magically be tons better this season. Why?
A&M is a different issue. Those people are smart but it’s like they belong to a cult. A cut of weirdness. All those crazy chants and hand gestures. How can you enjoy a game when a game is all about what you do as a trained seal?
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