I got sucked into the Arkansas-LSU game in the third quarter yesterday because Sam was watching it and kept making exclamations like, “Omigosh!” and “Daddy, you’ve got to see this!” and “Wow!” I just couldn’t concentrate, so I plopped down and was quickly enthralled with the drama as unranked Arkansas dashed the hopes of #1-ranked LSU in a triple overtime game.It must have haunted LSU fans, because the only other loss they’d had all season was also in a triple overtime to Kentucky. Elton had a great post about LSU’s lost dreams here.It must have been equally frustrating (and every other team facing Arkansas this year) to have only one gameplan on defense: Stop Darren McFadden. And being completely unable to do so.
Right now, McFadden is in the hunt (again!) for the Heisman Trophy, but I don’t think he’ll get it. Not that he doesn’t deserve it.
However, he’s played for a coach who has been completely inept at creating an offense that would enable McFadden to truly become the player he could have been. It’s a completely astounding tribute to his athletic skills and prowess that he’s done what he’s done in an offense that is totally dependent upon and built around him. It has been aided by the addition of two other amazing backs: Felix Jones and Payton Hillis. They took some of the heat off McFadden.
However, with Arkansas’ final season game being played, I am optimistic that it is also Coach Houston Nutt’s last regular season game as coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. I’ve been sounding off about this for over a year (here, here, and here) – even doing so before most folks in my area would acknowledge that Arkansas needed a fresh perspective.
Nutt’s uninspired, frequently frustrating coaching strategies when combined with a maddening multi-million dollar salary serves only to prove the U of A’s poor stewardship of its fans’ finances.
The rumor around the state for the past three weeks has been that Nutt will be leaving at the end of this year, his tenth year as head football coach. Perhaps Arkansas fans will no longer have to say, “Wait ’till next year,” after another botched season, in spite of all the talent necessary to finish in the top-5 or 10.
For now, however, every Arkansas fan has something to be proud of – an athlete that will most definitely be picked in the first round in next year’s NFL draft (and may be the No. 1 overall pick!), a team that knocked off rival and national #1 team LSU in their final season game, a happy finish to an otherwise mediocre (again) year, and a stable full of talented athletes for the development of a new coach.