Hogs look forward to football season

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Believe it or not, the collegiate athletic season usually ends with a national championship for the Arkansas Razorbacks. Why, you may ask? Because the last sport played is outdoor track. Going into this year, 11 of the last 14 championships have gone to the Razorbacks. This year's event was shown live on CBS for the first time in 24 years - a great way to showcase college sport's greatest dynasty, John McDonnell's track and field Hogs. Unfortunately, Florida State spoiled the party and claimed their first ever outdoor track national title.

The baseball Hogs saw their shot at the College World Series go down in flames last weekend when they dropped games to first Oral Roberts and then Oklahoma State, bowing out of the regionals at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks finished second in the SEC West and carried the league's third best record into the NCAA's, but picked a bad time to go silent at the plate with their bats, failing to cash in on a golden opportunity to make their second CWS appearance in the Dave Van Horn regime.

The basketball Razorbacks had an excellent recruiting class headlined by Junior College Player of the Year Sonny Weems of West Memphis. That is the good news. The bad news is that All-American guard Ronnie Brewer has decided to by-pass his senior season and enter the NBA draft. Brewer led Arkansas in virtually every offensive category. Add to the fact that the Razorbacks also lost Jonathan Modica and Eric Ferguson to graduation, and Arkansas will have to replace 80 percent of their offensive output.

The Razorback football team showcased their spread offense in the spring under the leadership of new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. Arkansas fans, including myself, can't wait for the football season to start in anticipation of a more wide open offense, one that will actually throw the football down the field and over the middle. The Hogs had an above average recruiting season, highlighted by Gatorade and USA Today National Player of the Year quarterback Mitch Mustain of Springdale. Arkansas landed four of the vaunted Springdale five, including wide receivers Damian Williams and Andrew Norman, along with tight end Ben Cleveland. Arkansas also nabbed several other quality receivers along with some top notch linebackers, headed by high school All-American Van Stumon of North Little Rock.

All in all, it has been a better than average spring for the Razorbacks. Obviously, it would have been even better had the Hogs claimed another outdoor track national championship, advanced to the CWS, and had Ronnie Brewer decided to play his senior season on the hill. As for myself, as long as the football Razorbacks open up the offense and get back on the winning track, any disappointments of the spring will be long forgotten. As for now, let the countdown begin to the Labor Day weekend showdown with the University of Southern California on Sept. 2 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. Until then, go Hogs go!

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