With your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points. There is no place like it on the Web.
Note: A tip of the cap to 247Sports’ Andrew Hutchinson for finding this:
Lots of places in the SEC judge their athletic success off simply one sport.
Alabama football wins and whatever happens the rest of the year in other sports is “meh.” Same with Auburn football. Texas A&M football. Kentucky basketball. Some others have a couple of “big dog” sports. South Carolina basketball is suddenly a thing again — or was for a season, anyway. LSU baseball travels like no team you’ve ever seen. Tennessee women’s college basketball was massive.
Then, there are places like Arkansas.
Football is king here. No one doubts that. Basketball, some elders say, would be just as big if only … Baseball has been a national power for the better part of the last few decades. And the Diamond Hogs outdraw nearly every other college baseball team in the nation. Track and Field is iconic. Soccer appears to be a perennial top-25 type now. Tennis and golf are nationally ranked.
Arkansas athletics are, really, fantastic.
As Hutchinson writes, all 8 of the in-season sports at U of A are ranked in the top 35 nationally. Six of those are in the top 25. Five of those 6 are in the top 15.
You know who is to thank for that? Jeff Long.
Perhaps you’re still upset with Long for hiring Bret Bielema (Why are you?). Or maybe you were the one calling for his head after keeping Mike Anderson this time in 2016 (Why would you do this redux?). But Arkansas athletics are far more than the two biggies. They make the money, definitely, and money makes the world go around. But any athletic director worth his salt is not only watching his non-revenue sports but putting them in the best possible position to succeed.
Given what Arkansas athletics is up to right now, Long is worth every bit of it.
The Michael Taylor-at-linebacker experiment didn’t last long.
Arkansas has moved the 250-pound junior college transfer from outside linebacker on the second tier of the 3-4 to defensive end in the front. Taylor was opposite Randy Ramsey on the first team at OLB just last week.
But earlier this week it was announced Arkansas senior Karl Roesler was making the opposite switch. Roesler moved from defensive end to linebacker. Now, he and Ramsey are the starters.
It’s unclear where Taylor fits into the hierarchy. Armon Watts moved from defensive tackle to defensive end as the first-team member opposite McTelvin Agim. Austin Capps was the starter in the middle of the front 3. Taylor could slip in for Watts as a starter or slide behind Watts or Agim as a top reserve.
Don’t read too much into Taylor’s apparent demotion, though. Coaches still seem rather optimistic, legitimately, that he could help the defense this season.
This is getting more and more real, y’all.
Arkansas baseball is in first place in the entire SEC halfway through conference play. Winning at the same rate over the back-half of the season would give the Diamond Hogs their best-ever SEC record.
Teams that win the SEC not only host regionals, they get national seeds.
Never mind what the Razorbacks are ranked. That stuff doesn’t matter. Not really, anyway. There are 6 legitimate polls in college baseball. That’s 5 too many. Four, at the very least. It’s not that those polls are wrong. It’s just that the discrepancy between Arkansas being ranked ninth or 17th is wholly irrelevant.
Those are the latest NCAA Tournament projections from D1Baseball.com. Regardless of the hosting honor, that looks like an easier region than a lot of others.
Things are still more than 6 weeks away from being determined. But, at some point, it’s time to start getting serious about Arkansas’ landing spot. This weekend will go a long way in making it more real.
(Yes, that’s the headline on purpose. I hate that I write that joke, but it’s more for the copy desk so they don’t change it.)
Arkansas is down in Auburn, Ala., on Friday, prepping for a 3-game set with the Tigers. Dave Van Horn’s team, as mentioned, leads the entire SEC. That makes them 1 game up on Auburn.
Now, for those out there bad at math like myself — I confirmed this using the Google machine: If Arkansas sweeps, the Razorbacks go 4 games up. If Arkansas wins 2 of 3, the Razorbacks go 2 games up. Arkansas wins 1 and they’re tied. And if Auburn sweeps, the Tigers move into, at worst, a tie for first in the conference.
So, yeah. Pretty big deal.
As I sometimes do (don’t?), I’m not going to bother writing a story here. Just going to leave you with the tweet. It’s real and it’s spectacular.
NEW: Arkansas woman urinates on officer during traffic stop, police say » https://t.co/eQvCeUckM7 #ArkDG #ARNews pic.twitter.com/sxvwjUlXih
— AR Democrat-Gazette (@ArkansasOnline) April 20, 2017
Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.
The post No school in the SEC is better than Arkansas. Here’s why: appeared first on SEC Country.