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 email@example.com.
Arkansas Question of the Day: Tuesday, Nov. 7
How big is the chasm between Jeff Long's expectations for the football team and the fan's expectations?
— BB (@bbeck41) November 5, 2017
A lot wider than the majority of fans want it to be.
Arkansas brass, like the head honchos at most schools, deal in reality. Facts and figures. Numbers and letters. Dollars and cents. They use data and historical evidence to make current and future decisions.
As much as the average fan may be angry at where the athletic director has taken Arkansas sports or where coach Bret Bielema has taken Arkansas football, the average fan is simply the first domino. Things have not been terrible for as long as the rank and file think. It’s been this season and two games at the end of last year. The notion that this was a sinking ship from Day 1 is simply wrong.
The problem this season isn’t that Arkansas is losing. This was always going to be a tough year. Anyone who tells you otherwise was selling something or blind. The problem this season is how Arkansas has been defeated.
A 14-point loss to Alabama, a one- or two-possession loss to Auburn, a one-possession defeat to South Carolina — these type of losses would have been disappointing, but not cause for same-season dismissal. Even the wins Arkansas has collected have been uninspiring.
Long and the board of trustees might have been able to overlook a 5-7 season of tough breaks. It would have meant Bielema was on the hot seat for next year, certainly, but questions about his job right now would not have come up. What has actually transpired, though, is too much.
Realistically, a coach probably has a three-year grace period. Year 1 results, if negative, are basically irrelevant. Year 2 should show some improvement. By Year 3, the team should deliver about seven wins. That’s what the brass expects. Every subsequent year should see seven wins or greater. Falling below for one season — within reason — wouldn’t cause long-term concern, but it’s expected that the ship be righted sooner rather than later.
Houston Nutt. If Arkansas football on the field can get Nutt-era results, that should be reasonable. It might seem reasonable to the fan base, but that is reasonable to the administration … assuming the booster money follows as well.
Razorbacks football coaches’ records in recent years:
|Bret Bielema (2013-present)||29-31||11-26||2-1|
|John L. Smith (2012)||4-8||2-6||—|
|Bobby Petrino (2008-11)||34-17||17-15||2-1|
|Reggie Herring (2007)||0-1||—||0-1|
|Houston Nutt (1998-2007)||75-48||42-38||2-5|
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