I really do need to stop reading preseason predictions for my beloved Arkansas Razorbacks.
Why? I usually get irritated. This year, however, I was irritated more than usual when I read that the Razorbacks have been picked to finish sixth -- dead last -- in the SEC West.
That's the type of thing, folks, that will just rile people in a state that almost worships football.
While it's true the team has lost its great backfield -- Darren McFadden and Felix Jones -- a sixth place finish just seems, well, wrong.
Why? Arkansas has finally gained a head coach in the highly-touted Bobby Petrino. Those familiar with the Natural State know well the talent-squandering ways of the former Razorback coach, Houston "Boxcar" Nutt (nicknamed boxcar by me because he's a bum). The one time Nutt showed a lick of sense in his time at Arkansas was when he fled to another school before he was chased out of the state by angry, torch-wielding fans.
Yes, Nutt will be chewing his nails, doing his scalded chicken dance and generally acting like the unrefined hick he is for Ole Miss -- a Razorback rival in the SEC West. While I do feel sorry for Ole Miss because the poor team has been saddled with a bum for a coach, the fact remains that Ole Miss finished 0-8 in the SEC last year and the team hasn't exactly had a history of rebounding from terrible seasons.
I can't help but think the good people of Mississippi don't know what kind of coach they're getting. Back in 2000, for example, Arkansas had a fair-to-middling year and wound up playing UNLV in the Las Vegas Bowl. The results were catastrophic and we Arkies had to live with the shame of seeing the Razorbacks wrecked in a minor bowl by a team that finished third in the Mountain West. Arkansas was the heavy favorite, of course, but the "Nutt factor" kicked in and the impossible happened that day -- an SEC club got schooled by a team that was widely regarded as inferior.
Back then, Nutt went to the same church in Fayetteville that we did -- University Baptist. Shortly after the Las Vegas Bowl mess, we saw Nutt in church. I told my wife I was going to go over and "talk to that man," but she told me to sit down. I did what I was told and my dear Marci, once again, kept me out of trouble. Ole Miss fans are in for some heartbreak, and that's a true shame.
There's a lot of excitement in Mississippi over quarterback Jevan Snead, but when has Nutt ever utilized a quarterback efficiently? Here's a hint -- one QB that wasn't "good" enough to start for the Razorbacks -- Tarvaris Jackson -- transferred to Alabama State, set some records and is now the starter for the Minnesota Vikings.
Nutt has never developed a quarterback in his life (ironic because he is a former college quarterback) and I rather doubt if moving east of the Mississippi River will magically enable him to figure out a passing game.
No, Nutt has worshiped at the ground game shrine during his career, and Ole Miss has running backs to watch -- Cordera Eason (who struggled last year) and Enrique Davis (a freshman). When Nutt doesn't have an outstanding running game, his offense folds faster than Superman on laundry day.
Will the running backs provide that running game? How good is Snead at scrambling for yardage?
There are a lot of questions, but I'll be one livid Razorbacks fan if Arkansas manages to place behind Ole Miss in the SEC West. Arkansas has its share of problems, to be sure, in that Arkansas is only returning nine starters this year and a lot of the offense rests on the shaky arm of QB Casey Dick.
If Dick benefits from the coaching that Nutt wasn't capable of giving him, perhaps the Hogs will finally have a passing game. There are a lot of questions, to be sure, but Petrino had darn well better find a way to make sure his team finishes ahead of Ole Miss. There's a lot of bad blood between Nutt and this state, and Petrino will catch hell if the Razorbacks actually manage to lose to Ole Miss this year.
We'll just have to see.
In other news, another Razorback was arrested the other day. WR Marques Wade is the fifth Razorback football player to be arrested this year, in fact. That's just pitiful and, even more pitiful, is what Wade told the cops after he was arrested.
It seems Wade almost ran over a police officer with his car and was picked up for driving under the influence. He denied drinking but -- get this -- said he had been smoking dope earlier in the day. Yes, kids, he claims to have refrained from that demon alcohol and, evidently, implied that hitting reefer madness was somehow preferable.
I'm reminded of my days as attorney in Fayetteville (the law sucks as a profession, folks -- avoid it). That was back in the 1990s and football and basketball Razorbacks were getting in trouble with the law regularly back then, and a client of mine dropped by my office with a joke:
Q: How can you tell if a Razorback has had sex recently?
A: He's being arraigned.
Things aren't quite that bad now, but I do hope we're done reading about Razorbacks getting arrested.