Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Hogs are still struggling

Yes, it was another terrible day in Arkansas after the 12th-ranked Florida Gators (a team good and mad about a loss against Ole Miss last week) came to Fayetteville and smacked the Razorbacks all over the field.

We Razorbacks fans knew it was going to be a bad year, what with a new coach and a bunch of freshmen, but it's still hard to watch. In the end, the Hogs lost 38-7 and fell to 2-3 overall (0-2 in the SEC). Will we see some improvement next week against Auburn? That's hard to say, but the smart money is on Auburn, sadly.

Speaking of Auburn, they went to Vanderbilt today and lost 14-13 against a team that used to be an easy win. I'm not sure what the hell is going on with Vanderbilt, really, as that team now leads the SEC West and has gotten off to its first 5-0 start since World War II. Yes, Adolph Hitler was alive the last time Vanderbilt did this well. How's that for a bit of trivia?

At any rate -- Arkansas. I'm not so sure that the problem with the team is Casey Dick as I have assumed in the past. Dick is still not the greatest quarterback out there, but I couldn't help but notice that the offensive line for Arkansas is so awful that Dick spent most of the game simply running for his life. It's hard to find your receivers when you're dodging Gators all day long, seemingly.

How bad is Arkansas' offensive line? Florida sacked Dick once when they brought the dreaded three-man rush. If your offensive line can't turn back a three-man rush, you've got problems. Florida managed to hurry Dick into throwing an interception, to boot.

In spite of all that trouble, Dick was able to complete 19 of his 29 passes for 235 yards -- better statistically than Florida QB Tim Tebow's 17 completions for 215 yards on 26 attempts. Dick's got to struggle with some young receivers who tend to drop balls and make dumb decisions when they get them, too.

Like statistics? Here's another fascinating one. In the past three games, Arkansas has managed to score 31 points while holding their opponents to only 139 points. That sums everything up, doesn't it? Head Coach Bobby Petrino will probably burst a blood vessel in his head before the end of the season.

Indeed, you could see Petrino fuming here and there as Arkansas made one stupid penalty after another. And, let's not forget that the coach has absolutely no confidence in the kicking game. If it's fourth and long on the opponents 30 yard line, you can bet that Petrino will go for the first down rather than risk a field goal. That lack of confidence is disturbing, to say the least.

The only games Arkansas has won this year came against two scrub teams at the first of the season -- Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe. There's nothing to brag about there, of course, for two reasons -- Arkansas is supposed to beat teams like that and the Hogs barely managed to win those games.

Were there any bright spots? Actually, yes. First of all the aforementioned Casey Dick performed pretty well. And then there's running back Michael Smith who had 133 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. This season may be a wash, but no one has told Smith yet. That's fortunate.

Also, keep in mind that Petrino is having to play a lot of true freshmen. Yes, former head coach Houston Nutt's miserable attempts at recruiting have put the Hogs in a position where there just aren't a lot of good, experienced players on the field. All those freshmen that Petrino has been stuck with will improve and should be considerably better next year.

Oh, and speaking of Houston "Boxcar" Nutt, his Ole Miss Rebels were kind enough to give Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks their first win in the SEC today. It appears that the Ole Ball Coach pulled off a win over the Ole Nutt Sack with a 31-24 victory. That means Ole Miss is 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the SEC and I couldn't be happier as Nutt is a filthy goon who deserves to fail everywhere he goes. Nutt and his white trash coaching staff head to No. 2 Alabama next week and ought to be beaten to a pulp when they come to Arkansas the following week.

I do hope Arkansas fans will welcome the former Razorbacks head coach by showering him with garbage throughout the game. I started advocating giving the Ole Nutt Sack the tar and feather treatment around 2000, but watching him covered with egg shells, coffee grounds and other assorted bits of trash would be almost as good.

I should stress that I have absolutely nothing against Ole Miss. I just hate that team's coach with a white passion and love to see him fail. He screwed the Razorbacks, folks, and it's a shame that it's time for Ole Miss to be sold a bunch of crap and snake oil. They'll wise up and run him off soon enough. Maybe he'll find success coaching junior high ball one of these days.

Benton Panthers get mercy ruled!

In Arkansas high school football, the mercy rule is put in place when a team is ahead by 35 points. Under that rule, the clock simply isn't stopped unless you've got official time outs and things like that.

Friday night, my beloved Benton Panthers traveled to Lake Hamilton and the mercy rule was put in place sometime in the second half. That's one of the most humiliating thing that can happen to a high school team, by the way.

The Panthers, of course, lost 56-21 and fell to 1-4 on the season (the only victory so far came against Conway this year). Things probably won't get much better next week when the Texarkana Razorbacks come to town next week.

Two years ago, one of the funniest things I've heard in a high school football game happened when Texarkana came to Benton. There was this Texarkana coach who wore his baseball cap backward (I nicknamed him Hatty McBackward) and screamed at his team the entire game.

Dad and I always sit on the visitor's side, and Hatty kept screaming even as his team was rolling over Benton. In the fourth quarter, I heard someone (obviously a Benton fan) yell, "Settle down, coach! You're up 42 to 14!"

Here's hoping Benton has a better game against Texarkana on Friday.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A little housekeeping...

Yes, it's time for The Hawg to take care of a little business, so please bear with me.

First of all, I've been granted Margie and Edna's Special Tea Award. If you haven't visited Margie and Edna's Basement yet, click right here and head over there. I like those two ladies as their blog is always entertaining and they've always been nice to me. Besides, they refer to me as Mr. The Hawg and I think that's funny.

I like this particular award, too. Why? Because there are no strings attached. I always love getting awards, but they typically require me to pick some more people to send them to -- rather like an Internet chain letter at times. Some of the recipients are glad to get them whereas some people just get irritated.

Ah, but this award from Margie and Edna is different. It's meant as a sincere honor and there are no requirements to pass it on to other bloggers. Again, I don't mind passing on awards and I always love to get them, but a change of pace is nice, right?

So, I'm honored to get this award from two of the friendliest and most entertaining bloggers out there. I'm proud to add this one to that trophy case in my sidebar.

Top Entrecard droppers

Well, I'm a bit late on posting the top Entrecard Droppers for September. So, here are the top 10 Entrecard droppers as of October 2nd. Close enough, I figure:


Picture to People

Credit Card Lab

Crotchety Old Man Yells at Cars


Stud Kickass

Slow Streamyx

Helping Yourself

Designing Hillary

Thanks, folks. I appreciate everyone taking out time to stop in at my little blog so regularly.

The Hawg cleans house

I've noticed that a lot of blogs I visit regularly are choked down with java script and all manner of slow-loading things. I timed my blog and noticed that I had a lot of stuff slowing it down, too.

So, I've cut out a lot of that stuff. Yes, the widget that told where visitors are coming from is gone as both Feedburner and Google Analytics tell me that. Those image-heavy ads that no one was clicking are gone, too.

What's left? A few ads that still no one will click and a few items that are essential (well, that awards shelf isn't essential, but I like such ego-enhancing things). I've also moved my Entrecard widget up top so people can spot it easier.

The Hawg has fallen behind

As I've already mentioned, my wonderful ulcerative colitis (a true pain in the ass) has been giving me fits. After a day of work, I'm often too tired to drop on Entrecard as I should, Digg articles and all that other stuff.

I'm not happy about falling behind so much, but I'm heading to the doctor for another, err, scope test in the morning. Hopefully, I'll be back up to speed soon.

And finally...

Watch the debate? I did. What did you think? Was Sarah Palin or Joe Biden more impressive? Leave a comment. Come on, folks -- share!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wordless Wednesday -- Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper's "Elvis is Everywhere"

Check out the other Wordless Wednesday participants by clicking right here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sometimes people will surprise you

Earlier today, my neighbor came by and handed my wife a check to cover half of the costs of getting our fence repaired.

That was totally unexpected and certainly appreciated. Why? Because our neighbor's tree got blown down when the remnants of Hurricane Ike were passing through central Arkansas. The tree made a mess of our chain link fence and destroyed a couple of sections of our privacy fence.

Our neighbor's insurance carrier, State Farm, paid to remove the tree but wouldn't pay to repair our fence (act of God and all that). We've got a $1,000 deductible with our insurance carrier, so I didn't bother filing a claim as it costs less that that to repair our fence.

Besides, our insurance carrier is Allstate, and that company is horrible. It's more like a collection agency than an insurer, so I try to avoid them whenever I can. How did we wind up with Allstate? That's a story that takes too long to explain.

I could have taken my neighbor to small claims court to force them to pay for our fence, but I hate the legal system more than I hate Allstate. I practiced law for four years and learned to detest lawyers, and what's a judge but a lawyer who carries a gavel and can send you to jail for not doing what he says?

So, I decided to go ahead and pay for the repairs. They needed to be made, after all, and two of my dogs have been on 20-foot leads since shortly after the tree fell -- the little rascals just won't stay in the fence. That's sad, watching the poor pups on leashes and all.

The fence guy was over today and my neighbor came by, asked my wife how much the repairs cost then wrote her a check. That was a classy move and one that caught me by surprise.

How many people go out of their way to do the right thing these days?

Monday, September 29, 2008

One more season and Pittsburgh sets a record

While baseball fans around the country are looking forward to the playoffs and the World Series, we Pittsburgh Pirates fans at least have something in common with our favorite team.

Yes, we'll be watching the games in our living rooms and wondering if next year will be any better. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh is terrible and there aren't any signs the team is improving.

How bad is Pittsburgh? The team hasn't had a winning season since 1992 and is tied for the most consecutive losses of any team in professional sports. By closing out this season at 67-92, the Pirates never got close to the magical .500 mark.

If the Pirates turn in another rotten season next year, they'll set an undistinguished record -- 17 losing seasons. No team in any major American pro sport has been able to achieve that level of suckness. Well, at least they've got a shot at doing something rather well. If you're going to stink, why not go all out, right?

The Pirates are so bad that named the Pirates the worst franchise in American pro sports way on back in May. There were 10 teams on that list, and the Pirates edged out some real stinkers such as the Kansas City Royals, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit Lions.

That's terrible, folks. That's so bad that the Pirates might want to consider changing that "P" logo on their caps to read "Pee."

The obvious question, of course, is how did the Pirates get so bad. Just what the hell happened to a team that played in the first World Series in 1903 and picked up World Series victories in 1909, 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979? What happened to the team that was one rotten inning away from the World Series in 1992?

Simple -- the Pirates have adopted a strategy of fielding young, inexperienced and cheap players. After the 1992 season, for example, the Pirates lost Barry Bonds. That trend of getting rid of solid players has plagued the Pirates, a team that was once the home to the likes of Aramis Ramirez and Jason Kendall.

The Pirates, oddly, have adopted the confusing habit of trading good players for a bunch of prospects, then trading the prospects that develop into solid players for more youngsters. Let's say, for example, that Pittsburgh trades a standout player for prospects A, B and C. The following season, A and B develop into fair-to-middling players, while C is outstanding.

What happens? The Pirates keep their mitts on A and B and trade C for some more prospects. And the cycle continues. It's no wonder, then, that we loyal Pirates fans would go absolutely insane if the team managed to win 81 games and enjoy something that seems impossible to us -- a .500 season.

That's just pitiful. How many baseball fans would consider 81 wins a failure? A lot of them, to be sure, but we Pirates fans might get so excited that we'd start burning couches in our front lawns.

I know at least one blogger out their shares my pain when it comes to the Pirates -- Brian McElhinny at Raise the Jolly Roger. There's a man who's keeping the faith. Good for him.

Should you want to see when I gave up on the season, see an earlier post of mine right here.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Terrible weekend for football

I've been following football for a lot of years and I can't think of a weekend that has been as aggravating as this one.

Why? My three favorite teams from the NFL, college and high school all played like garbage and got beaten. That's right, the Benton Panthers, Arkansas Razorbacks and Denver Broncos all lost. To make matters worse, that rotten former head coach for the Razorbacks led Ole Miss to a victory over #4 Florida.

It's enough to make a man swear off football for the rest of the season.

Well, probably not. Actually, definitely not.

Still, the whole thing was a mess so I'll sort through my pain and disappointment, day by day.

Friday, Sept. 26 -- Panthers fail

My beloved Benton Panthers headed to Pine Bluff to take on the Zebras. Yes, the Panthers were coming off a victory against the Conway Wampus Cats the previous week and hopes were high they'd pull off a win in their first game of conference play this season.

So, they spent the week preparing themselves for the trip to Pine Bluff by practicing hard, adjusting to wearing bullet proof vests under their pads and taking daily penicillin shots. All of that preparation was for naught as the Panthers failed, 43-25.

Honestly, Pine Bluff has a very good team this year and Benton was expected to lose. Still, Benton's first three games of the season were against 7A teams and the fact that the Panthers pulled off a victory against one of those teams and played well against another inspired some hope.

Benton, see, is a 6A school and the Panthers were holding their own against teams in the larger 7A classification. Ah, but Pine Bluff proved to be too much for the Panthers, dropping the team's record to a lowly 1-3 for the season. That's no damn good at all.

Why does The Hawg follow a high school team? I live in Benton and graduated from that school, as did my parents and my brother. Friday night football is a big deal here in the South and I'm as guilty as anyone of being a bit obsessive about it. So there.

Saturday, Sept. 27 -- Hogs still awful

No one expected the Arkansas Razorbacks to do much against the Texas Longhorns. That's a good thing because the Hogs failed miserably. Back in the old South West Conference days, the Arkansas-Texas game was the biggest one of the year for us Arkansans, and watching the team head to Austin and take a 52-10 whipping was hard for us long time fans.

That stomping, by the way, was the worst one Arkansas has taken at the hands of Texas since 1916 when the Longhorns slaughtered the Hogs 52-0. This year's contest was supposed to take place a couple of weeks ago but was delayed because a hurricane was ravaging Texas. I'm sure Razorbacks fans agree with me that the game should have stayed delayed. Like, indefinitely.

Arkansas has shown some hope in it's running game over the past few games, but Michael Smith was shut down. Alex Tejada struggled in the kicking game and quarterback Casey Dick still looks like a newcomer trying to come to grips with that new-fangled forward pass.

The Hogs got whipped last week by Alabama and have only beaten two rotten, scrubby teams this year -- Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe. I doubt things will get much better when Florida comes to town next week.

Yes, Florida is mad because they lost to Ole Miss on Saturday and will be out for revenge. Ole Miss, by the way, is led by Houston Nutt, the dirty bastard that used to coach Arkansas and left the Hogs with very little for current Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino to work with.

Nutt did his typical thing -- he lost to Vanderbilt one week and then beat a far superior Florida team the next. Of course, Florida helped things by turning the ball over to Ole Miss every chance they got. It is good to see Nutt engaging in his typical behavior -- raising hopes just to dash them -- at a school other than Arkansas, however.

Arkansas will be fine once Petrino can get some of his players in here and get his system in place. Regardless, Arkansas is 2-2 (0-1 in the SEC) and things may well get worse. After Saturday's game, I have yet another reason to regret my decision to get a law degree at the University of Arkansas rather than heading to Vanderbilt to get a master's in political science (yes, I could have gotten in there) and heading to the University of Texas to get a doctorate. Stupid, stupid, stupid The Hawg.

Buckle up, Hogs fans. This year's shaping up to be a miserable one.

Sunday, Sept. 28 -- first loss for Broncos

So, the Panthers lost on Friday and the Razorbacks failed miserably on Saturday, but certainly the Denver Broncos at 3-0 would whip the lowly, 0-3 Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, right? As it turns out, that was absolutely wrong.

While Kansas City was on a 12-game losing streak, they always play Denver tough at home and Mike Shanahan, Denver's head coach, entered Arrowhead Stadium with a 3-10 record there. Denver and Kansas City might not hate each other as much as, say, Denver and Oakland, but there's still a strong rivalry there and Kansas City played like it.

The Chiefs shut down the Broncos' running game and Denver quarterback Jay Cutler threw two interceptions, to boot. Oh, and the Broncos managed to fumble twice on Sunday, too.

In the end, Denver (AFC West) lost 19-33 and fell to 3-1 on the season. I can't help but think of that game as an anomaly as the Broncos came into Kansas City averaging 38 points per game and were leading the NFL in first downs. They'll be fine but they looked terrible on Sunday. The Broncos play Tampa Bay next week, so here's hoping they'll be back on track by then.

Denver has always had a hard time in Arrowhead and Sunday was no exception.