Where The 2022 Baseball Hogs Rank All Time, Where Yurachek Ranks As AD & More Vitello Talk
Q. Our first question is from H. McCamish who wants to know: Where would you place the 2022 baseball Hogs all time at the school? They didn’t compare to the 2021 Razorbacks in wins and losses. They didn’t even win their division and went two and out in the SEC Tournament. But to me they were the better team. Am I nuts?
A. No, you’re not. Most fans would probably agree with you. Being ranked number one most of the 2021 season was nice. Winning the SEC Championship and the SEC Tournament was impressive. But ask Tennessee if going to Omaha is more important. You can’t win a national championship without getting to Omaha. Arkansas didn’t just get there. Along with the ’79 team those guys ended up with the second best CWS record ever at Arkansas. 3-2. Only the 2018 Hogs did better. They were 4-2. So to me, with all the issues this team had in the last half of the regular season, they are at least the 3rd best team all time at Arkansas. I’d give the ’79 team the edge over them because those guys reached the finals. But third all time is really impressive, especially if you consider who they beat. National 7 seed Oklahoma State at their place. National 10 seed North Carolina at North Carolina. National 2 seed Stanford at the CWS and they were the only team win a game against the national champions in post season play after the SEC Tournament.
Q:Slobberslob says: Proud of our baseball team and how they competed through the tournament. Everyone wanted the championship but sometimes the best team doesn’t win. 2011 the Cardinals won the World Series with an 81-81 regular season record. You can’t win without getting to Omaha and we’re there regularly.
A. Eddie Sutton used to say, if you get into the NCAA Basketball tournament often enough you will eventually win it all. Unfortunately that didn’t happen for him but the logic is sound. But agree with you. If Arkansas keeps going back they’re gonna win the whole thing at some point. Hopefully sooner than later.
Q. mousetown asks: Why did it take DVH so long to figure out that if Connor Noland started bringing the ball over the plate his defense would take care of him. He’s been a strikeout guy for so long, yet he had just one strikeout against Stanford but went almost eight innings with just over sixty pitches.
A. It’s more complicated than that. He was missing the strike zone and in order to avoid a lot of walks he was forced to stop trying to hit the edges of the strike zone. He was also leaving his breaking ball up a lot and it would drop down into the hitting zone. The fact is his control was a lot better from Regional play on. He kept the ball down and teams Sanford and Ole Miss hit more ground balls against him which let the defense take over. Also his low pitch count had a lot to do with Stanford and Ole Miss swinging and making first or second pitch contact. They were very aggressive at the plate and it played into Arkansas’ hands.
Q. PigDaddyKane says: Baseball season had a great run. Enjoyed watching them turn it around. Who all is coming back? Who do we have coming in?
A. Only Peyton Stovall out of the starting lineup that we know of. I think he will be one of the best players in college baseball next season. But DVH is going to have to replace the rest of those guys. Gus that can hit and play fabulous defense. There is a slight chance that one of them will come back. I’m not going to name him because I still think he’s gone but this player did tell a close friend of mine that he might come back. If so that would be huge.
On the mound the assumption is that Connor Noland will not come back for the COVID 5th year available to him but until he says he’s gone I think there’s a chance. Peyton Paulette, who sat out after Tommy John surgery, is likely a 2nd or 3 round draft choice. I think he’s gone. But Hagen Smith, Will McEntire, Jaxon Wiggins and Brady Tygart are all back.
Now let’s look at the 2022 signing class. Number 5 in the nation with a lot of quality players. The issue is, how many does DVH convince to turn down draft money and come to school. He’s had better luck with that lately. He’s got three infielders signed that could make a huge difference. Also of the 19 players signed 13 are pitchers. Matt Hobbs is going to be really busy in Fall Ball trying to figure out how many of those 13 can make a difference.
Then there is the Portal. They’ve landed a Creighton transfer outfielder but no other names yet. Supposedly the reason Dylan Leach is transferring out is that DVH may be looking at bringing in two top quality catchers by way of the portal.
I know fans are antsy about this situation since so many key players off this 2022 team are leaving but I think DVH will put another CWS contender on the field next season.
Q. BloodRed Hog wants to know: How are the opening round matchups determined in the CWS? You would think with 4 SEC teams, they would not have Ole Miss vs. Auburn.
A. The matchups are determined by the original seeding seeding before the NCAA Tournament started. Apparently that made it impractical to divide the two brackets with two SEC teams on either side. So Arkansas, Ole Miss and Auburn ended up in the same bracket. The Aggies were on the other side. If Ole Miss had switched places with Oklahoma then it would have been two and two. Would that have been better for Arkansas? Maybe. But we’ll never know.
For the record I didn’t have any issues with the way the two brackets in Omaha were constructed.
Q. Hogdogger says: I recently have read that Treylon Burks is having breathing issues at practice with the titans. It mentions he has asthma. I don’t think this is a new condition and likely had it playing as a Razorback. Do you think this is going to affect his status playing for the Titans?
A. It’s not a new condition but it seems to have been aggravated in his participation in the Titan’s rookie minicamp and OTA’s. He has said that he’s not concerned about it and official statements from the team have been supportive. I could be something as simple as having triggering allergens present where he’s living and practicing. That may change in the summer months when preseason work starts.
Obviously it’s something Hog fans will keep an eye on since they all want him to have a great rookie season. We’ll keep you updated on this as their preseason works begins.
Q. Snout team says: With Anthony Black playing in the Under 18 FIBA games, he has missed the first couple of weeks of (Arkansas’) practice. How much do you think that impacts his chemistry and development with the team? Does the publicity from him playing for the gold outweigh what he missed?
A. He did it with coach Musselman’s blessing and yes, it was worth it. Especially since he studied Arkansas system while he was playing with the US team. Coach Muss said he was knocked out by how much Black knew in his first workout with his new team. I think Muss ended up saying that it was like he’d been there all along. Even though this is close to being an entirely new Razorback team for the coming season these guys are going to be well integrated as teammates because of the team’s August tour of games in Europe. They’ll get extra practice time before the tour and obviously valuable playing time during the tour. Hog fans are going to love it too.
Q. Swine American asks: What was Tony Vitello’s role when he worked for Van Horn? Did Van Horn keep him on a short leash so he could not be as full of the swagger as he has shown at Tennessee or has it always been there but no one around here really cared?
A. Vitello was the hitting coach and lead recruiter. He’s always had kind of a swagger but obviously since he was working for DVH he kept it in check. I did have one of the players from back them tell me that some of the guys felt like Vitello was over the top. But really, in his first few years at Tennessee when he was building their program back, you didn’t see this kind of behavior. It’s something that started popping up last year. I think, to a large degree, he was playing to his fan base. Tennessee fans love that kind of in your face stuff from their players. Their fans have a reputation of being rowdy in the stands. I’s going to be interesting to see if this continues next season because as I’ve said before, the SEC office is beginning to loser patience with this stuff.
Q. Dr. Strangepork asks: Because of Title IX many young men lose the chance to compete with institutions discontinuing their sport? Women deserve every opportunity to participate in college athletics even if the majority of their sports are non-revenue earning but it doesn’t sound “equitable and inclusive” to me.
A. Here’s the issue. Years ago, if college athletics had developed with revenue producing sports only Title IX night have been ruled on differently by the Supreme Court. But the fact is, men’s sports like, golf, tennis, track and others were already being largely supported at most school by revenue from Football and to a lesser extent basketball. So I think those justices took the position that if you can have non revenue men’s sports you can do the same with women and if you don’t it’s discrimination. Title IX is not going away and frankly school are lucky that football was taken out of the equal scholarships formula because there’s no equivalent sport on women’s side that requires 85 scholarships.
Q. Pigsfeat says: Jaylin Williams to OKC, so happy for him! Do you have any info on where the other draft eligible players from Arkansas end up?
A. Stanley Umude has signed what’s called an exhibit 10 contract. That gets him into the NBA summer league. It’s minimum money with no guarantee. You can be cut at any time but if can also lead to a two way contract that will get you into the G-Leagues. Mason Jones went this route and is still around. He played in some Lakers games this past season.
Our excellent basketball recruiting guru Kevin McPherson thinks that J.D. Notae has a shot at an exhibit 10- contract but nothing has been announced so far. Audise Toney is also a possibility but it looks like Toney and Chris Lykes will end up in Europe or in pro ball at any one of several other counties outside of Europe.
Q. We have a question from a Stadium Shoppe customer: Brad Welsh wants to know: When did it become acceptable for our Track & Field Men’s team to continually win SEC titles yet lose Nationals to SEC team’s.
A. Arkansas had a lot of athletes who could score points at a conference meet but not many at the NCAA nationals where only the elite in every event is going to get their school points. There are a lot of track teams across the NCAA who take this approach. The problem for Chris Bucknam is that for decades John Mc Donnell did both and fans like you expect that. I don’t see Hunter Yurachek running off a coach who wins conference titles just because he doesn’t compete for national titles every year. I also don’t think this is Bucknam’s sole approach. He’s won a national title at Arkansas.
If Yuacheck is still the AD here when Bucknam retires he might go after a coach who has won multiple national titles. Arkansas’ tradition and track facilities would be a big draw. It’s usually tough to replace a legend but easier if you’re the coach after that guy who replaces a legend.
Q. Johnnie5 asks: He hasn’t been at Arkansas long but Where does Hunter Yurachek rate on Arkansas’ all time A.D list? He hired Musselman (can he keep him), hired and just locked Pittman in a lifetime contract. Arkansas sports are at a all time high in my opinion. His ability to hire the right coach has been amazing.
A. Right now I’d say he’s a modern day version of Frank. He may be better at Frank in hiring coaches and that’s saying something. He doesn’t have Frank’s reputation of meddling with coaches after he hires them but honestly Yurachek hasn’t been on the job long enough to run into a situation when one of his hires either needs to get with it or get fired. That is inevitable the longer he says on the job so it will be interesting to see how he handles a situation like that. The big difference I see in Frank and Hunter as that with Frank the fans came before his coaches and even the athletes. He took one of those “the customer is always right” attitudes and he was quick to let his coaches know that.
Hunter is has a more traditional approach. Supports his coaches in every way he can. The one misstep he’s taken is over the baseball ticket policy which was revised this past season. He made a lot of long time baseball ticket holders and donors mad. Some of them have told me they will never come to games again. I know why he did it. At most schools I don’t think it would have been an issue. But a lot of longtime fans here and boosters have this “‘the Arkansas way” manta that goes back to Frank. Any AD that gets away from that is gonna hear from them on that.
Over all I would give Hunter Yurachek a solid “A” the job he’s doing. With most fans I talk to compare Yurachek to Jeff Long the way Sam Pitman compares to Chad Morris. In my opinion Arkansas fans has better hope that another school doesn’t take Hunter Yurachek away from Arkansas.
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