Arkansas cares more about traditions than keeping up in SEC

SEC Country reporter Eric W. Bolin will candidly answer your Arkansas Razorbacks sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryHogs or by email to Eric at

Arkansas Question of the Day: Friday, Dec. 1

The impression Arkansas is giving the rest of the college sports world is that it’s far from that Frank Broyles tradition and that, yes, your premise is correct.

Jeff Long and Bret Bielema were let go, in part, because they didn’t fit that tradition. Long more than Bielema in that regard. Both were Yankees who didn’t understand what it meant to be an Arkansas Man. Or they did understand and blatantly disregarded it. That’s the perception, and Arkansas, in the week since firing Bielema, has only furthered the notion.

The hope by the higher-ups, meaning mostly the big-money donors and the board of trustees (whose members are appointed by the governor), is that the next athletic director and coach will be both. They want an Arkansas Man or Woman who can raise loads of money and win loads of games. Such a person exists. Perhaps. Many believe it’s Gus Malzahn as the coach. A hope some have, too, is that it’s Derrick Gragg as athletic director.

Neither one of them, though, are consensus choices. Arkansas has been a mess this week because of the splinter cells within the ivory tower. Multiple other outlets have said what I have believed: The university, for whatever reason, is flying by the seat of its pants. No one seems to know who is in charge. More appropriately, everyone seems to think he or she is in charge. As such, the left hand isn’t talking to the right hand and you end up with this:

Arkansas seems to be waiting on Malzahn to finish the SEC Championship Game on Saturday. If he and Auburn lose, Arkansas will almost certainly force Malzahn to turn down his home-state flagship school. The hiring of Malzahn from an SEC West rival, objectively, seems like a steal, too. Malzahn checks a lot of boxes in both the “let’s win” and “let’s get an Arkansas Man” lanes.

But what happens if he turns down Arkansas? It doesn’t appear that the university brass have an immediate backup plan, though they could. That’s part of the appeal of hiring a search firm. Search firms shield their clients, in this case, Arkansas. Notice things have gotten quieter on the coaching front since the school announced the hiring of a firm earlier this week.

None of it does any good, though, if the firm returns to university movers-and-shakers with names they can’t agree upon.

Arkansas isn’t as bad as Tennessee. Their search isn’t on the rocks. Another week of this, though, another fumble after fumble, misstep after misstep, and the Volunteers search will be wrapped up. Arkansas will be directly in the spotlight, then.

The clock is ticking.

The post Arkansas cares more about traditions than keeping up in SEC appeared first on SEC Country.

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