ESPN’s Ryan McGee, who covers NASCAR and college football, talked Friday afternoon with Derek Ruscin and Zach Arns (Ruscin & Zach) on ESPN Arkansas about the drastic changes for Sunday’s race in Darlington.
Darren McFadden looks on the football field these days at Arkansas games and hopes whoever is wearing No. 5 does well but then they will put the number in the rafters.
“I would love to see that number hung up in the rafters,” he told Tye Richardson and Tommy Craft (The Morning Rush) on ESPN Arkansas Friday morning. “I’m not the type guy to go out and make a big scene out of it but I would love to see that number hung up.”
McFadden played three seasons and he knows what he accomplished.
“Just for what I did and the history,” he said. “I own just about every school rushing record, College Football Hall of Fame, two-time Heisman runner-up, two-time Doak Walker award. I think that’s a jersey that definitely should be hung up.”
The current wearer of the number is Rakeem Boyd and he’s fully aware of the significance of having that number on his back. He’s talked about the honor of wearing it at Arkansas.
“It’s always mixed emotions when I see it,” D-Mac said. “I always want them to do their best but at the same time it’s not a number I want to see out there really. It’s part of football and not something you can just take with you.”
The only numbers retired at Arkansas is Clyde Scott’s 12 and Brandon Burlsworth’s 77. Scott’s number was briefly brought back (with his permission) for All-American kicker and punter Steve Little to wear from 1974-77.
It’s just a hunch but D-Mac would probably be okay with Sam Pittman needing it to land a potential All-American every couple of decades or so.
“As time goes on, the right people will make the right decisions and it will eventually be hung up,” he said.
McFadden is also frustrated with the results on the field the last few years … and it cost him a little bit of money.
“It’s been brutal,” he said. “Especially being in the locker room (while with the Raiders and Cowboys) with guys you played against in college. Guys make friendly bets and things. I used to meet with the quarterbacks in Oakland and every week I’d pick Arkansas.
“I don’t care who they were playing I was picking Arkansas. Eventually it got to the point where I’d just bring in my $10, lay it on the desk and told ’em to let me know if we end up winning.”
After several years of coaching staffs apparently interested in watching some of the best players in Arkansas go elsewhere, Sam Pittman told us he wanted to keep ’em home and that’s what he’s doing.
Shiloh Christian wide receiver Beau Cason (6-5, 190) chose to walk-on with the Razorbacks on Thursday, announcing it via Twitter:
— Beau Cason (@Beau_Cason) May 14, 2020
Pittman told us he wanted to focus more on getting a lot of in-state walk-ons and Cason is the 12th from inside the state to go with a couple from surrounding states.
“We have an opportunity with our university with how we can get kids in that Arkansas needs to go heavy on preferred walk-ons and walk-ons in their program,” Pittman told us earlier.”
It’s why he has all 10 assistant coaches recruiting within the state. Yes, it pays dividends in various areas.
“If you do that, there’s a lot of good things that can come out of that, but one of them is I think your walk-on program is going to be much better,” Pittman said. “The relationships with the high school coaches are going to be better, relationship with the state of Arkansas is going to be better.”
Here are the walk-ons committed to the Hogs right now:
• Braden Bratcher, QB, Little Rock Pulaski Academy
• Donte Buckner, RB, White Hall
• Chris Harris, ATH, Dumas
• Kevin Compton, ATH, Watson Chapel
• Truitt Tollett, WR, Springdale Shiloh Christian
• Beau Cason, WR, Springdale Shiloh Christian
• Jonas Higson, TE, Bentonville West
• Brooks Both, LB, Harrison
• Caleb Fields, LB, Fayetteville
• Chandler McIntosh, LB, Little Rock Joe T. Robinson
• Jackson Woodard, LB, Little Rock Christian
• Rhett Thurman, K, Cabot
• Vito Calvaruso, K, Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias Catholic
• Eli Chism, LS, Shreveport (La.) Calvary Baptist
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt was on Ruscin & Zach on Wednesday afternoon and talked about Lou Holtz meeting him at midfield and asking when quarterback Matt Jones as finally going to graduate.
ESPN’s Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland will not return to the Monday Night Football booth, according to a story in The Athletic by Richard Deitsch.
Steve Levy, Dan Orlovsky, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese are leading candidates for the Monday Night Football job in a Tweet from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.
This is accurate. As I wrote early last month, Steve Levy, Dan Orlovsky, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese are the favorites as the replacements, according to sources. I’m working on a new story now. https://t.co/YHhZnEkkvU
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) May 9, 2020
Despite their Monday Night Football exit, Tessitore and McFarland will reportedly both remain in “prominent roles” at ESPN. The duo received their share of backlash on social media during their time on the Monday Night Football crew. After McFarland spent prior years in his famed “Booger Mobile,” the two shared the booth for the 2019 season.
Vote for who you think should be the replacement at the ESPN Arkansas poll! It has absolutely zero chance of influencing anybody’s decision but make your opinion known.
Click here to make your picks at ESPN Arkansas’ choice.
In the midst of a historic stoppage due to the global health pandemic, Arkansas coach Sam Pittman and his staff haven’t slowed down at all in recruiting, which is what he’s told us a couple of times was his goal.
He’s talked about kicking recruiting up a notch or two during this time of limited contact and they are doing, locking down enough commitments to be ranked now ahead of Alabama in the rankings.
Which, of course, is completely meaningless right now. The Razorbacks are 39th, which is ahead of Oklahoma (42) and the Crimson Tide (45). As I said that doesn’t count for much right now.
But it has been interesting to see that defensive coordinator Barry Odom’s connection in Oklahoma seems to be paying off based on the headlines from the guys that following recruiting closely.
What it means, simply, is this staff isn’t sitting around at a time when probably no staff is, but nobody has a clue what they’re really supposed to be doing in this situation anyway.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said over the last couple of days he’s thinking some teams may start later than others, depending on the local health conditions.
That’s a decision that will likely be different in each state.
But it’s interesting to note the NCAA seems to be following the lead of whatever the SEC and some other conferences say. I don’t pay much attention to some of the conferences as they appear to be run by politicians and not leaders.
The SEC, fortunately, has a leader in Sankey who doesn’t appear to need to form a committee to decide whether or not ot do anything.
He gets in touch with his athletic directors, who are responsible for keeping their bosses in the loop, and they make a decision.
It’s also not put to a popular vote, either. That’s a positive sign.
Arkansas is starting to re-open things over the next few weeks and in Fayetteville people are out and about much, much more in the last couple of weeks.
It’s pretty easy to spot because we’re actually starting to see those fender-benders all over town that happens when traffic increases. People are going in and out of stores, the lines are getting longer at drive-thru lines.
The SEC has already said it’s planning on playing the normal schedule. Whether the Hogs get to play all of their non-conference games as scheduled right now is up in the air to a certain extent but the guess is there will be practice starting sometime in July.
SEC Media Day in July probably won’t be the usual gathering of media people in Atlanta. Doing everything virtually is a more likely scenario.
The best advice is don’t panic and don’t assume the circumstances now will be the same in two weeks. That’s how quick this whole thing has changed.
It will likely keep changing that fast … or faster.
Which is why it appears to be heading in the direction of football starting practices in mid-July at a lot of places … including Arkansas.
This is it. After weeks of voting, debate, and memories, these are the two games you have voted on. Now it’s time to make it official, what is the Greatest Razorback Football Game of All Time?? These two games are two of the most memorable and legendary games in Razorback history. Make sure you submit your vote below!!
Here are some highlights from both of these games! Shoutout to @WarMachine2013 for putting these awesome highlight reels together!
#8 Arkansas @ #1 Texas – 1964
#2 Arkansas @ #6 Nebraska – 1965 Cotton Bowl
Voting is open from now until Friday at 8:00am! We will announce the winning game LIVE on The Morning Rush on Friday! GET YOUR VOTES IN!
Hunter Yurachek followed the lead of the SEC on Monday, telling the UA’s Board of Trustees on Monday they are planning on a normal football football schedule and players returning in mid-July.
The board voted unanimously to have classes ready to re-open in the fall.
KARK-TV had a tweet with more details Monday.
JUST IN: University of Arkansas planning on starting Razorback football Sept. 5, with practice starting mid July -per Hunter Yurachek on Board of Trustees virtual meeting today pic.twitter.com/w9IhxH4Zi5
— Susan El Khoury (@SusanElKhoury) May 4, 2020
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey made the media rounds last week and probably the most compelling reason that at least the league is looking at things getting back on track sooner rather than later.
“If football is not an active part of our life in the fall, what’s happening around us becomes a real big question societally, economically and culturally,” he told WJXL-FM sports radio in Jacksonville, Fla.
What he didn’t say is it’s an economic necessity, whether anybody wants to admit it or not.
“My focus is on football as scheduled,” Sankey said. “The week before volleyball and the week before that soccer starting. The circumstances will guide that decision making. We want to be prepared.”
Then Yurachek stepped up and told the UA’s board that very thing in a virtual meeting Monday.
“We have to create confidence for our student-athletes and their parents that we can minimize risk,” Yurachek said.
Will things change? Probably. There will likely be spacing and other measures implemented.
Yurachek told the board season ticket sales have been slower than normal while fans wait to see if the season will be played. The athletics department has alternative budget plans if the season is canceled or shortened, he said.
Final Four voting starts today in the Greatest Razorback Football Game of all-time bracket! Now your votes count more than ever, because these Final Four match-ups are tough, and feature four of the greatest games in Arkansas football history. But which one is the greatest? Make sure to submit your votes below!
Final Four voting will conclude tomorrow evening! On Wednesday, we will begin the National Championship vote of the Greatest Razorback Football Game of All Time Bracket! GET YOUR VOTES IN!
Former Arkansas player and current New York Jets offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains likes what he knows about new coach Sam Pittman after talking with him on the phone a couple of times.
“I got off the phone thinking, man, what a great guym” Loggains told Derek Ruscin and Zach Arns (Ruscin & Zach) on ESPN Arkansas on Friday. “The impressive thing was as he’s talking and telling you everything, the strengths and weaknesses, he also tells his players.”
That won’t be earth-shattering news for Razorback fans. It’s pretty much the same thing everybody comes away with after talking with Pittman.
“You can feel that’s going to coach a guy hard,” Loggains said. “He’s going to develop the player as well as develop the man. It was really impressive. He did a really good job coaching those two guys that went in the first round and he’s got a long track record.”
Georgia offensive linemen Andrew Thomas (4) and Isaiah Wilson (29) went in the first round. In all, Pittman had three linemen from Georgia picked in the draft.
NFL coaches tend to notice things like that.
“He’s going to coach the man first and in doing that they’re going to become the best student-athlete they can be,” Loggains said. “He’s going to set them up to be successful after life. He’s also developing guys to play at the next level which is impressive.
“We’re in good hands. We’ve got a guy that’s got a lot of character and brings a lot of credibility. He’s coached in the SEC for a long time at a bunch of different programs.”
As an offensive coordinator he makes a living studying offenses and is familiar with what new offensive coordinator Kendal Briles wants to do.
“You can win a lot of different ways,” Loggains said. “I learned at an early age it’s not what you do but how you do it and you better do it better than everybody else.”
But he did point out it will be a different offense from what Bobby Petrino employed the last time the Hogs were winning games on a regular basis.
“He coached the passing game better than everybody else in that conference at that time,” Loggains said. “He knew how to practice, he knew how to rep things, he knew how to put pressure on the quarterback to get the most out of them.”
It will be different, even from the spread offense the last couple of years that was only consistent in backfiring and unable to move the ball.
Loggains is looking forward to seeing it.
“It will be a no-huddle tempo spread offense that a lot of people are running in college football right now,” he said Friday. “I’m excited to see how the wide splits … they are a little different than most people.
“It’s interesting when you go back and watch Baylor and how wide their receiver splits are, how they create numbers in the run game, the RPO’s, bubble screens and stretch people horizontally and vertically.”