Track Meet in Rupp, Improved Hitting At Baum & Is a New Upper Division of the NCAA About to Happen?

By Mike Irwin
on 2024-03-04 17:44 PM

Q. Our first question is from Anakalypto who says: Kentucky is good, but we gave up 111 points. Who will you ever beat giving up 111? They gave up 50 in a half to Vandy. My point is, we scored points. We’re not mentally tough on the defensive end and that was true against Vandy & UK.

A. It was a different kind of game. For the first time in a long time Arkansas played up tempo basketball. The Hogs had 10 steals in that game to Kentucky’s 7. They scored 18 points off turnovers to Kentucky’s 13. There was defense being played. It was just at a higher tempo. Under Nolan Richardson Arkansas once gave up 101 points to US International. But the Hogs scored 160.

Arkansas lead by nine points with just under nine to play. Alabama gave up 117 to Kentucky. The ‘Cats scored 105 on Georgia, 109 on Vanderbilt. Kentucky is about as good as it gets offensively. They are tall, quick, athletic and they shoot well. They put tremendous pressure on a defense. If Arkansas had played like it did in several other SEC games this season it would have lost by 40.

After the Vandy game I thought the players were done for the season. I was wrong. They have not quit. It’s probably too late but I’m not gonna give them zero credit for what they did against Kentucky. It was a surprise.

We’ll see if they can keep it up against LSU in Bud Walton.

Q. Hog in Iowa asks: If the MBB Hogs don’t win the SEC tournament, do you think the UA would pay the necessary fee to participate in the NIT?

A. You don’t pay a fee but you do assume most expenses and you don’t get to keep the money from ticket sales. However, I don’t money will be the determining factor. If Muss thinks his players coming back will benefit from playing in that tournament Arkansas would probably accept.

Q. Pigsfeat wants to know: Is there any truth to the rumors that Coach Muss is wanting to leave Arkansas? I hope not, his track record is better than this one season!

A. We’ve gotten this question every week for the last three weeks. The answer is still the same. We don’t know. I will say this, players hear things. If they thought he was going I don’t think they would have played the way they did against Kentucky. On the other hand a fan I’ve known for a long time tried to tell me that Muss is coaching better to help himself get another job and the players are playing better because they’re hoping for a better transfer deal.

I’m not buying that. At one point I was thinking, even if Muss stays we would see an almost totally rebuilt team next season. Seeing the way they played against Kentucky I could see several of these guys coming back.

Q. To baseball where Eddy Lynn says: Arkansas’ pitching continues to blow me away. That was a good hitting Murray State team that Arkansas held to five run in three games. The hitting looks like it’s slowly getting better but it’s still a work in progress.

A. The team batting average is up to .289. That’s about .040 % points from last week. Home runs are still down. Just 9 in 11 games but I think that ratio will go up. There are also some clear signs that DVH is prepared to play small ball in certain situations. I like that.

The team ERA is solid at 2.45. The bullpen gave up just two runs all weekend. Murray State, a good hitting team with two power hitters, scored just 5 runs in the three games. The eye popping number is strikeouts. 163 in 99 innings. That is an incredible pace. If they keep this up they’ll set records.

One thing I don’t like is the .969 fielding percentage. They need to work on that.

Q. Mousetown asks: So the people who watch this program want me to show up in person and explain myself? That will never happen. I’ll continue to be that voice in the dark that holds coaches and players accountable. It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

A. Never fear mousetown. We would never reveal your identity unless you approve it.

Q. WVHogfan asks: Coaches scout opponents to learn their tendencies but do they scout umpires to learn their tendencies? If so would this affect how batters approach their at bat and how catchers select pitches and locations?

A. They not only scout home plate umpires beforehand, they scout them during the games. Behind the plate umps have general tendencies but they are not robots. They don’t call balls and strikes exactly the same every game. If there is anything unusual about the strike zone in a specific game the players and coaches will discuss it in the dugout and react accordingly.

Q. hobhog asks: How much access will the media have to spring football, and what should we expect to get out of these practices this year?

A. I saw Sam Pittman at a women’s basketball game last week. He said practices will be open to the media but with restricted shooting which is normal. I would imagine most of the attention will be on Bobby Petrino and his offense. That will include the battle at quarterback. It’s been four seasons since that job was up for grabs. There will also be a focus on the passing game, the receivers and the running backs since Rocket Sanders and A.J. Green are gone.

Arkansas returns some young but talented tight ends. Petrino makes heavy use of his tight ends both as blockers and receivers.

There will also be a lot of stories on the defense, starting at linebacker where every experienced player they had there left. Travis Williams is essentially starting over with a new bunch of potential starters and backups.

Q. SMB Hogfan says: Everyone seems to have Arkansas at 5.5 wins this season. Is there any reason to be any more optimistic than that? If so, what would those reasons be?

A. The X factor will be the offensive coordinator and the new O-line coach Arkansas has hired. The use of in-helmet communication has been proposed. There will be a vote on it in April. The possibility that Petrino could communicate directly with his quarterback between plays and up to 15 seconds until the play clock expires, would excite a lot of fans who understand football and understand the weapon that this could be.

Q. Redleg wants to know: When will the UA update the football roster on the official website? They still have guys listed on the roster that are for sure no longer with the team, not to mention out dated measurements!

A. The official word from U of A sports information director Kyle Parkinson is that the website will be updated before the first spring practice on Thursday.

Q. cjack has some NIL questions:

When did it become ok to be what it is today, which is salaried players with no salary cap that starts at the high school/recruiting level?

A. It became okay when the courts granted Tennessee a temporary injunction in its lawsuit against the NCAA. Tennessee and other schools want to get the NCAA’s rule against using NIL’s to recruit (buy) players declared invalid. Right now, with the injunction in place, there are no rules.

Who initially opened Pandora’s box to what we have now?

A. It’s the NCAA fault. Back in the early 2000s EA sports started paying the NCAA a rights fee to use the image of real players in their college football and basketball games. That was really stupid. The NCAA got greedy. It should have told EA Sports that they could not use the image of NCAA athletes for any reason.

It was inevitable that a lawsuit would be filed on the players behalf and it was. It took about 15 years to reach the Supreme Court and that’s when the paying of players became a reality. Once that happened schools that had been buying players all along (and periodically getting caught) began to violate the NCAA rule against offering NIL deal to recruits. The NCAA cited them for breaking that rule and notified them that they would likely face sanctions. That’s when they filed a counter suit to stop the NCAA from enforcing that rule.

Why wouldn’t Universities, especially smaller ones or colleges that are losing the dollar fight to other schools, get this back in court and reigned in?

A. Because they would probably lose. At this point it appears that the courts are going to take the position that denying player the ability to make money off of their value as a recruit is an anti- trust violation.

Here’s where we’re headed. The NCAA has offered a proposal to create a super division of college athletics where each member school would agree to provide around $30,000 in NIL money to each athlete including those in women’s sports. Depending on the number scholarships and the tuition for those scholarships this would add $13-15 million annually to each school’s total budget for athletics. Schools that can afford it would join.

It’s likely that increased TV revenue would cover most of the additional cost. Even then I have to wonder if this would solve the bigger issue of mega boosters offering huge money to top five-star recruits. If you don’t stop that then winning championships will still boil down to which schools have the deepest booster pockets.

If this happens a lot of fans are simply going to lose interest. College athletics may end up cutting it’s own throat.

Marty Byrde’s proxy says: So the leader of Arkansas Edge/NIL came out asking for donations this week. I get it, that’s his job, I’m sure. Here’s the problem for most ordinary fans; we’ve made our donation to the foundation for the year (or the pledge to). Doing this to keep our ticket priority mainly….

….So most average Hog fans are given out. But if NIL doesn’t improve, our teams will suffer, or so we’re told. So it’s taking on a “you better help out here or…” feel. Are we heading to tying ticket priority to NIL donation?

A. I’m not sure. It’s really unclear right now how this will work. Hunter Yurachek needs to address where Arkansas stands on NIL money because I’m reading a lot of pushback on social media and among fans I talk to in person. They are disgusted with the whole NIL issue. As you put it…either fork over the money so we can play players more or we won’t be able to compete against schools that do.

Q. Armon Abbe says: As a Cowboys fan I used to watch Chris Mortensen on TV all the time. His coverage of the NFL was first rate. Mort was about the only thing I liked about ESPN. I know he got sick and had to retire but I didn’t know he lived in Arkansas. Was he really a Razorbacks fan like me?

He really was. In fact you could argue that he was a super fan. He listened to sports talk radio in NWA. Read the newspapers and watched the sports on all the local stations. Was on the internet. He said he was lucky to be a Hog fan because there was so much coverage of his favorite team and he went to as many games as he could.

(Last updated: 2024-03-04 17:44 PM)