The NCAA & NIL Bidding Wars, Most Surprising Hog FB Upset Ever & Why D-Mac Didn’t Win the Heisman

By Mike Irwin
on 2023-07-10 20:10 PM

Q. Our first question is about former Razorbacks playing in the NBA summer league.

Preston Cook wants to know: Don’t you think it’s a little too early to be analyzing last year’s Hogs and their status as future NBA players based on a few summer league games? You started out singing Nick Smith Jr’s praises. A couple of days later you were touting Ricky Council. Personally I think Jordan Walsh has been the most impressive but that could change. Are you trying to predict the first who will be called up to an NBA roster?

A. First of all I agree that the situation is fluid and changes game to game. I guess I keep thinking that the Nick Smith Jr. that was hyped as the No. 2 player in the country his senior year will show up at some point.

In game one he was that guy and yeah, I probably got too carried away. He’s struggled with missed shots since then but has still played well overall.

Right after that segment aired Jordan Walsh had a huge game. Also Anthony Black played his first summer league game and he put up some big numbers.

I have no idea which one of the four will play in an NBA game first but I’m kind of pulling for Nick Smith Jr.

Q: Lonny Cox asks: Does it bother you that Nick Smith Jr. and Jordan Walsh already look a lot better getting paid to play basketball than they did as Razorbacks? I wish them the best but where was this when we were having an up and down season?

A. There are fans out there, and clearly you are one of them, who are going to be mad that the 2023 team didn’t live up to the preseason hype, which was, this might be the most talented Razorback team since the national championship bunch.

It’s not like the 2023 team went one and one in the NCAA’s. Or ended up going to the NIT. They played in the toughest bracket. They beat the number one team in the country in the round of 32. They lost to the eventual national champions.

So are you going to get mad every time one of these guys has success at the next level. Doesn’t sound like much fun.

Q. mousetown says: Last week you mentioned the NCAA plans to crack down on schools who use NIL deals to recruit. Everybody I talk to says they’ll get sued if they try it. What makes the new guy at the NCAA think they can win in court?

A. He cited a case back during the Jerry Tarkanian years where UNLV went to court against the NCAA and the NCAA won. Long story short the court ruled that any organization has a right to create and enforce rules for members as long as those rules don’t discriminate.

So in this case, the NCAA is saying if you want to use NIL money to recruit go ahead. It’s not illegal. It’s just against our rules and if you do it you can’t belong to our organization. Go start your own organization where there is no such rule.

Q. On that same subject Pete says: I personally think the court will say that a HS kid can shop around for the best deal. It’s wrong, and will destroy the sport for most schools- but it’s coming. I bet you dinner on it.

A. Don’t bet me. Bet NCAA president Charlie Baker. He’s the one who is confident the rule will be enforced.

I will say this, I really get tired of hearing fans saying nothing can be done about these out of control NIL deals.

Something will be done alright. I don’t have the answers but I do know that a lot of coaches and ADs have had enough. They understand that college athletics is becoming professional sports. If common sense doesn’t prevail interest is going to start dropping and when that happens they’ll have to deal with it. You start losing fans and the money to run athletic departments something will have to be done.

Q: WizardofhOgZ says: With regards to your answer to my question last week I respectfully submit that I was not “mixed up” in the question I asked. [Quote from Jeff Goodman] One concept that came up today in D-1 Council meeting by The Modernization of Rules Subcommittee…..

…….was that playing pro basketball for a certain period of time wouldn’t disallow players from coming back and playing college basketball. Not ready to be voted on, but discussion will continue.

A. I apologize for that. I even did a google search looking for it. After the fact I saw a response to it by Coach Z on my Twitter feed.

Again we’ll ask coach Muss about it the next time he has a presser but to me it’s a much dumber proposal that what I thought you were referring to, a rule that allows players who go though the draft but don’t get drafted to come back to school. If that were adopted players would start entering the draft thinking, what have I got to lose? Yes, by the time they go undrafted the spot on their team would probably be gone so they’d just hit the portal. Just what we need. More reasons to hit the portal.

Q. Wade Rogers says: I’ve searched around about Kevin Kopps but can’t find anything consistent. Is he near making the big show yet?

A. Kopps is with the San Antonio Missions at the AA level. At last check he was 3-3 with an ERA of just over 3.0. He needs to move up to the Padre’s AAA affiliate in El Paso to put himself in a position to be called up.

Q. Hogdogger says: The 1978 Orange Bowl win was a shock to me back in the day. With some of our best players being suspended by Lou Holtz it seemed like the hogs didn’t have a chance…..

…..what game surprised you the most that the Hogs won but you thought there was no way they would win?

A. Not that one because even though the ’78 Orange Bowl was considered a huge upset the talent on that team two deep on offense and defense may have been the best ever at Arkansas. The recruiting in Frank Broyles last couple of seasons was outstanding.

I’d have to go with the Arkansas-Tennessee game in Knoxville in 1992 as the most surprising upset. Tennessee was 5-0 and ranked number 4 in the nation. Arkansas was 1-4 under interim head coach Joe Kines. They’d gotten blown out by both Alabama and Georgia. It looked like it would be another lopsided loss but some crazy things happened in that game.

Freshman QB Barry Lunney Jr. was getting his first career start. I felt like it was unfair to put him in that situation. But he stepped up early on throwing a 50 yard bomb to Ron Dickerson Jr.

Arkansas had the lead for a while but they looked dead in the water late in the game. That’s when Orlando Watters ran back a punt for 71 yards and a TD. Arkansas went for a two point conversion to tie the game but Lunney was sacked.

Arkansas then pulled off a successful onside kick and Todd Wright connected on a 47 yard field goal to win the game.

Arkansas won just three games that season but they beat the number 4 team in the country in front of 100,000.

I remember thinking at the time, this makes no sense at all.

But three years later some of the freshmen on that team were part of Arkansas’ first SEC west championship and its first appearance in the SEC championship game.

Q. WVHogfan asks: In 2007, didn’t Steve Spurrier leave Darren completely off his ballot so he would help Tim Tebow secure the Heisman? That was also the year Darren ran up and down the field against his South Carolina team….

……It was also weird that in 2006 voters said that no sophomore should win the Heisman, but in 2007 Tim Tebow won being a freshmen.

A. Well that was a theory on McFadden being too young to get Heisman. I didn’t buy it then and I don’t now. In order for any athlete at Arkansas to win the Heisman the school is gonna have to be in the national championship game. That ’06 team went 10-4 and lost its bowl game. You don’t know for sure what is in the minds of the Heisman electors but to me, no Razorback, no matter what season he has, will win the Heisman on a team that loses even two games.

Q. Marty Byrde’s Proxy asks: What’s the win number that will give us a good season in that brutal 7 game stretch of LSU, A&M, Ole Miss, Bama, Miss St., Florida, and Auburn? Only two of which are in Fayetteville by the way.

Eight would be a good season but a lot of fans would not be happy with that. Yes, the schedule is tough but to shut most of those Sam Pittman critics up Arkansas will probably need 9 wins.

Q. Radhog says: You and I moved to Fayetteville the same year. Luckily there are no videotapes of me as a knucklehead freshman, but do you have any clips of your on-air work or photos from 1975? Would love to see a football interview from then.

A. Any interview I did would be on film because video tape was not in use at that time locally. I don’t think any film of me during that season exists.

There is one photo. Here it is.

(Last updated: 2023-07-10 20:10 PM)