In 1977, none of us had heard a lot of the sayings many know by heart now from newly-hired Arkansas coach Lou Holtz and it was something new almost every day.
Someone pointed out to him nobody was expecting a whole lot from a team that may have been the most talent on any one team in Razorback history that was completely lost in the frustration of a 5-5-1 team.
Holtz wasn’t buying it.
“People live up to — or down to — what is expected of them,” he said.
A few folks rolled their eyes. Most just chalked it up to another coach trying to sell a bill of goods to the fans.
That team, of course, came within a blown call and a late screen pass to Earl Campbell that gave Texas a win on a windy day in Fayetteville to go 11-1 and have as good of a claim as anyone in the country to a national championship, but coming in third in the final polls.
No, the current Hogs’ football team probably isn’t going to do that, but there is enough talent to stop a 0-16 run in SEC games. Yeah, they get to play 10 of those this year so they have more opportunities, but they would have broken it anyway.
First of all the talent on the team really isn’t as bad as their schedule showed the last couple of years. With a coaching staff that didn’t have a clue what to do at the SEC level, players really played down to the expectation level of Chad Morris and his staff.
All we heard from him for two years was how he had to have more players to turn things around. The players he had figured he didn’t have much faith in them so they didn’t have a lot in the coaches.
Nowhere was that more obvious than on offense where eight different players started at quarterback over the last two seasons. Very few coaches have consistently won with a rotation at the quarterback position.
New offensive coordinator Kendal Briles knows that. It’s why the odds-on guess is graduate transfer Feleipe Franks will be the opening day starter Sept. 26.
The Hogs may have pulled off a big one getting him to come in. He quarterbacked Florida to a 10-win season a year after they won just four games with a team in complete chaos.
We’ve seen at other places that graduate transfer quarterbacks can come in and be successful immediately … with good coaching.
It might make a difference when the coaches expect to win with the players they have and are consistent with a message the players buy into.
Which is why this delayed start to the season may not be preferred and certainly wasn’t planned but may work out even better for the Hogs. They will have a couple of more practices than they would have had with a spring practice.
Plus no break of a few months where the coaches hope the players remember it.
And it’s okay to have expectations others may deem to be unrealistic.
You get the idea the coaches and players have high expectations, too.