Login

Rick Fires: Coming clean on bad predictions for Arkansas football

photo.caption|escapejs

Photographs by Charlie Kaijo

Bret Bielema hugs quarterback Austin Allen and defensive back Kevin Richardson II after Friday’s game in Fayetteville. Minutes later, interim Athletic Director Julie Cromer Peoples told him he was fired.

I will hold myself accountable today and revisit the predictions I made in August in regard to Arkansas' 2017 football season.

Unless you predicted 4-8 with both the head coach and athletic director being fired, you also have some reflection to do.

FINAL RECORD Arkansas, 7-6 with a bowl victory over Nebraska

Not even close.

Arkansas and Nebraska both fired their coaches after finishing with losing records. Bret Bielema got five years at Arkansas when most coaches with such an a poor conference record (11-29) would've gotten fewer.

Still, I think we can all agree Bielema is a good person who deserves another chance to lead a major college football program. It just didn't work out here.

KEY GAME South Carolina

I wrote in August fans were skeptical and that Arkansas really needed to win 2 of 3 games against TCU, Texas A&M, and South Carolina, especially, in the SEC opener to win back their support.

Arkansas went 0 for 3 in those games and followed with losses to Alabama and Auburn in SEC play. Another blowout loss to Auburn was particularly troubling.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER Austin Allen

I was sure quarterback Austin Allen would be the easy pick for MVP and no one else would be close. Perhaps if he were healthy, but Allen was a battered and bruised quarterback whose senior season fell well short of what was expected.

Today, I have no idea about the Arkansas MVP.

Maybe it's David Williams, the graduate transfer from South Carolina who averaged 54 yards per game rushing for a team built on the philosophy of a dominant run game. Or maybe it's Jonathan Nance, who averaged 14.6 yards per catch and led the Razorbacks with 54 receptions.

Or maybe there isn't an MVP on a team that finished 4-8.

BREAKOUT PLAYER Santos Ramirez

Ramirez stood out as a competent player on an Arkansas defense that allowed 36.2 points per game.

So, much for the 3-4 switch, huh?

Ramirez finished third in tackles behind linebackers Dre Greenlaw and De'Jon Harris, who led the team.

TOP NEWCOMER

The speed.

The moves.

The genes.

Yes, I was impressed in August about the potential of freshman running back Chase Hayden, the son of Aaron Hayden, a former Tennessee and NFL running back. Hayden showed flashes and gained 318 yards in seven games before he was lost with a lower leg injury.

I still like Hayden and hope he gets plenty of opportunities when the new coaching staff is in place.

BEST WIN Texas A&M

Going winless against Alabama may be tolerable, but going winless against Texas A&M definitely is not.

Bielema fell to 0-5 against the Aggies after the Hogs lost 50-43 in overtime.

The best win for Arkansas this season was actually at Mississippi, where the Razorbacks rallied from a 31-7 deficit to win 38-37.

WORST LOSS Florida

This is the segment where I really messed up and failed to edit myself properly.

With thoughts of Florida's loss the previous year at Fayetteville in my head, I wrote in August the Gators would get their revenge at the Swamp. I failed to look at the schedule closely and realized until it was too late South Carolina had replaced Florida this season.

Razorbacks fans who contacted me gave me grief and I apologize again today for my sloppiness.

I am sorry for writing Arkansas' worse loss would be at Florida when it was actually at South Carolina.

Or maybe it was the home loss to TCU.

Or maybe it was another blowout loss to Auburn.

Or maybe the loss at LSU.

Regardless, I made a mistake.

It is at this point I request a fine Cuban cigar and blindfold before being led to the gallows.

Sports on 12/03/2017

Log in to comment