While things really haven’t fallen to the depths of the recent record in Arkansas football, they’ve been bad before and the turnaround has been fairly quick.
Just look at 1998.
Clint Stoerner was the quarterback getting beat up for a couple of 4-7 seasons. He also was behind center for a 17-7 run over the next two seasons that included a Cotton Bowl win over Texas.
“First and foremost the biggest part is, one, it can be done,” Stoerner said Monday morning with Tye Richardson and Tommy Craft (The Morning Rush) on ESPN Arkansas. “Turning it over in one season it can be done.”
Certainly nobody in the media is predicting it and fewer fans expect much. That is not really surprising on the current 8-28 run the Razorbacks have seen for the last three seasons.
“Don’t wallow in the struggles of the last two seasons,” Stoerner said.
In 1998 a lot of fans were just hoping the Hogs could figure out how to beat an SMU team that had beaten them three years in a row. That included a 1-9-1 team in 1994 … yes, that one win was over Arkansas.
“When we turned the corner we didn’t know how good we were as a team, but we trusted in the system, trusted in the coaching staff and every win gave us more confidence,” Stoerner said. “You looked up and about four games in we were a pretty confident group. You get the idea you’re pretty talented and pretty dang good, that you belong in the SEC and from there on anything can happen.”
Accountability from within is going to be maybe more critical this year than most. New coach Sam Pittman hasn’t held a single practice with his team.
“The biggest hurdle for this coaching staff is to get these guys to put the phones down, forget about the girls, forget about your problems at home and get on the field consistently throughout the week and put the work in that’s necessary,” Stoerner said.
The talent is there. A lot of folks have criticized me for saying there is enough talent on this team to win games. That’s not to say they are going to jump into the playoff discussions but a good site better than 2-10.
“There’s a lot more talent than the last two seasons have shown,” Stoerner said. “I firmly believe that.”
Stoerner, Brandon Burlsworth and others came out of relative obscurity to make their names known with Hog fans in 1998.
Stoerner thinks there is that same opportunity for players now. If they are willing to, quite frankly, pay the price to be really good.
“The ones that can do it can separate themselves like never before,” he said. “It’s not as common to do that. If they’re putting that work in then we should see that on Saturdays if and when that happens.”