What follows is a take that I’ve avoided, uh, taking for at least two years. After all, the last thing I want to do is give unearned air to a program that will only use the oxygen to exhale toxic fumes. But it was either slap this take down, or write 1,000 words about those four consecutive run plays that killed the Red Wolves against South Alabama on Saturday.
The Arkansas Razorbacks posted a 4-8 record in 2017, a season that saw the Hogs win by just one point over Coastal Carolina. The next season, Arkansas turned in a 2-10 record with fantastic losses to North Texas and Colorado State. In 2019, another 2-10 record with glorious defeats to San Jose State and Western Kentucky.
That’s three astronomical seasons for the Arkansas State Red Wolves to commandeer the hearts of minds of the state’s rabid college football fans. Three whole seasons to provide Arkansans with an alternative product of greater value. Three seasons elevate recruiting and build the brand.
That opportunity is wasted and gone.
All right, sure, not completely wasted. We had our bowl games. Winning seasons. We enjoyed some ESPN spotlight and even increased coverage in Arkansas’ only statewide newspaper. We installed some water features and radically remodeled the stadium. But far too many chips were left on the table.
There was the close-but-no cigar loss to Nebraska. An embarrassing meltdown against SMU. A listless home loss to Appalachian State. We were destroyed in nationally aired games against Georgia and Alabama by a combined 112-7. In that three-season window, we lost to Louisiana and South Alabama twice.
While the Hogs were unceremoniously bounced from Club Dub, the Red Wolves failed to win a single Sun Belt championship, or even participate in the Sun Belt’s new Championship Game format. We lost two out of three bowl games. The Red Wolves record during those three seasons: a ho-hum 23-15.
We blew it. Currently, the Razorbacks are 3-5 but the trajectory is pointed up. The Red Wolves also have three wins, but have lost five straight – all to Sun Belt opponents, including the likes of Texas State and South Alabama. The Red Wolves shine has dissipated into the cosmos, which makes the timing of the Kansas State win a damn tragedy.
Bonus Howl Raising
As good citizens of sports, can we stop posting lazy tweets like this: