Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This time around, beating up on a pack of scrubs may actually mean something

At long last, game week is upon us and the mighty, mighty Arkansas Razorbacks take the field against...

Uh, wait a minute. Need to look that up. Hold on.

Oh, yes. Western Illinois. The Razorbacks open the season against Western Illinois in Fayetteville on Saturday.

Any college football fan knows that it's routine for teams from powerful conference to kick a bunch of patsies around the field several times a year. No disrespect to Western Illinois, but the team is simply no match for the Razorbacks. The Hogs compete in the SEC, while Western Illinois dukes it out in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with such premier teams as North Dakota State, South Dakota State and University of Northern Iowa.

Yes, the practice of bringing in a rent-a-win is shameful, but the reasons for it range from "everyone is doing it" to "college football is hard so they need some easy games." The end result is that such mismatches will probably continue for some time and major-conference teams will keep up the questionable practice of spanking minor-conference squads.

Generally, only one good thing comes out of those awful contests against scrubs -- if the home team loses, that's a sure sign that it's time to fire everyone from the coach down to the folks taking tickets at the gate. If your multimillion dollar program has slid so far downhill that a Western Illinois can beat it on it's own field, some major changes are in order.

This year, however, the ugly drubbing that typically serves as Arkansas' season opener could be quite valuable. Why? Because the Hogs have a new coach and everyone's curious to see what changes are in store for the team.

Yes, Bobby Petrino is now the coach and his team takes the field for the first time on Saturday. Will Western Illinois get slaughtered? Of course, but you'd better believe that all 72,000 seats in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium will be filled as eager fans show up to see what the Hogs are capable of with the new coach on board.

For those not familiar with all things Razorback (shame on you!), a good chunk of last season was taken up by Hogs fans calling for the head of Houston "Rotten Bastard" Nutt. Before angry Arkies could get their pitchforks and torches out and take care of the Nutt problem by force, the rotten bastard fled over the river to Ole Miss -- an SEC West rival that must have spent a lot of time reading the nonsense that Nutt's media team was churning out on a full time basis.

So, this is the year when fans would really love Petrino to prove that we're better off without Nutt. That journey starts Saturday and my fellow Arkies are actually excited about a scrub game for a change. Also, we may actually see a coach in action who puts in a few pass plays rather than simply sending his running back up the middle for three downs in a row.

We can go back to ignoring those "gimme wins" after the Hogs whip the socks of an inferior Western Illinois team on Saturday.

Shameless (shameful?) plug

See that Fiesta MMORPG ad in the upper right-hand section of the screen? I usually don't talk much about ads, but that one leads to a game that's actually a heck of a lot of fun. It's free to register and play, so why not give it a shot?

It's only fair to warn you, though, that you're in for a huge download (around 680 megs, to be exact), but that's not too bad on a fast connection. I sat through it and the game was worth it as I tend to like those online, multiplayer things that involve swinging swords and running around looking like a kid who belongs on a Pokemon episode.

Just thought I'd mention it.


Da Old Man said...

My local team, Rutgers, will probably stink, so I'll adopt the Razorbacks, too. Good luck to them. said...

East Carolina University will beat Virginia Tech Saturday!

Look for the Pirates to go 9-3 this year.


FishHawk said...

YAY!!! The Fiesta thingy actually worked this time. For I've clicked on it a couple of times in the past, and kept getting a notice of whatever was supposed to be there not being anywhere to be found on this blog or something like that.

By the way, Western Illinois is usually no slouch, and maybe you should ask some Michigan fans about not taking 1AA (or whatever designation the NCAA has dreamed up for that division this year) teams seriously. Nonetheless, I do agree that there is absolutely no way that my Hawgs should lose unto them. Hopefully, Petrino will be able to inspire some character, and they will play like they are facing Florida or Tennessee in the SEC championship game.

Toni said...

I am sure our short lived friendship is about to end as I tell you I am a Vol fan! But as a true SEC fan I wish your team good luck this weekend!

Yay football time!!!!

lala said...

Hmmm, well, let's see...I believe Michigan had a heck of a time with a little scrub team called Appalatian State a few years ago...


I liked Nutt the first few years he was there, but once we moved to NC we got all things ACC (Go Wolfpack!) and rarely got to watch any SEC games.

The Natural State Hawg said...

da old man -- We always love to see new fans, but I'll warn you -- the Hogs probably won't be that great this year. We've got a questionable quarterback and lost a lot of starters (including a great running back duo).

Regardless, enjoy! Learn to call those Hogs, you hear?

Paulshealthblog -- Heh. Dare to dream! I got my bachelor's from Hendrix College, so thank goodness I went to the University of Arkansas to get my doctorate or I wouldn't have an alma mater to get all obsessive about during football season.

fishhawk -- Yes, that's why I hate the prohibition against clicking your own ads. How the heck are you supposed to test them? I finally clicked and tested.

I almost wish I had tickets for Saturday's game...

Toni -- I'm not that crazy. No, I don't even hate the Longhorns. Yes, maybe I'm not a true Arkie.

Lala -- And the Hogs once had trouble with a little team called The Citadel. Every now and again, the planets do line up just right.

My brother lives in North Carolina, too, but he's still a wacky Hogs fan. I wonder how his kid will turn out...

Rich Dansereau said...

I am not a Petrino fan at all! He bailed on the Falcons, which shows his lack of standing behind his commitments and that he could not cut it in the NFL. I wish your Razorbacks well but I hope they have some other leadership as Petrino will not provide it!
BTW, I wanted to extend and invitation to participate in the weekly blog carnival that I host on Athletic Alley! If you follow the backlink, you will see the blog carnival in the right hand column. It could definitely provide more exposure for your site and the sport (or sports) you love.

The Natural State Hawg said...


We'll just have to wait and see about that, won't we? I do realize there are a lot of hurt feelings over Petrino's relationship with the Falcons, but here's the thing -- a lot of us Arkies hated our former head coach so much that we don't care. Finding a coach to come in walk into the mess that was left in Nutt's wake was a dicey proposition, at best. Add to that the national sentiment that we Arkansas fans expect too much and we were disappointed with a coach who had done as well as anyone could (a notion that's a bunch of crap, mind you) and you've got a situation that was none to attractive.

In short, getting a proven coach like Petrino in here was no small accomplishment.

Is there a chance that Petrino will bail out on us? Of course there is. However, there's also the chance he'll stick around and build a great program. We're willing to take that risk.

And I appreciate your including that back link. You'd better believe I'll participate and spread the "Go Hogs" message to whoever will listen ;)

maria said...

hi ethan! thanks for the EC drops and your comments, i have something for you in my blog..

have a great weekend.

The Natural State Hawg said...


Thanks! Wow!

crazy working mom said...

Thanks for hosting my EC today! :)

Wooooooooooo Pig Sooooooie!

The Natural State Hawg said...

Crazy Working Mom:

Thanks for advertising on my site. I do appreciate that and will do my usual thing later -- show my gratitude by writing a review for your site over at Entrecard.