It’s time to call a spade, a spade: Arkansas football is in a rut. In fact, it’s worse than that. They’re a borderline laughingstock in the SEC.
The Razorbacks have not only finished below .500 in each of the past three seasons, but they’re working off consecutive 2-10 campaigns. Their latest months-long egg ended up costing head coach Chad Morris his job. He left with two games remaining on the 2019 season’s schedule, both of which were helmed by Barry Lunney Jr., and both of which were losses.
Arkansas has since tabbed Sam Pittman to be Morris’ permanent successor. Pittman was most recently the associate head coach and offensive line coach at Georgia. Many around college football fancy him a top-shelf recruiter, as well as one of the best offensive line minds in the country.
The hope is that Pittman will be able to turn around Arkansas in something of a hurry. Schools target great recruiters so they can get back on track quickly. And with the Razorbacks having failed to make a Bowl Game in each of the past three seasons, you can bet that’s exactly what is happening here.
Unfortunately, though, a quick turnaround appears unlikely. Expedited rebuilds are possible, but Arkansas is working their way out from quite a deficit. They ranked 110th in points scored per game and 124th in points allowed per game last year. They can’t just climb their way out of that hole.
Experts aren’t looking to fondly upon the latest recruiting class, either. The folks over at 247 Sports have them checking in at 11th in the SEC, a conference that includes 14 teams.
It used to be that Arkansas was a semi-maintain. At the very least, you know they were going to finish above the Vanderbilts and the South Carolinas of the conference. That they’ve dipped below both universities in status is quite the gut punch.
Righting the ship now falls to Pittman, who worked on Arkansas’ staff between 2013 and 2015, before leaving to take his last post at Georgia. And there is an element of “Things cannot get any worse” at play, but the road back to contention or anything resembling it is rife with twists and turns.
To be honest, Arkansas’ biggest problem isn’t even one they can really reconcile. They’re in the nation’s most difficult conference, one that includes LSU, Alabama, and Auburn. Even the best recruiter ever would have a tough time outselling those powerhouses.
Maybe Pittman’s time with the program will be different. At the bottom, his era should go better than that of Morris, who left the school with an abysmal 4-18 record. So keep your eyes peeled in Arkansas. They’re fighting one of college football’s most uphill battles.
nfaadmin October 13th, 2011
Posted In: CFB
There’s a name you haven’t heard around Arizona’s college football program in quite some time. Stoops coached the Wildcats for about seven-and-a-half seasons, compiling a 41-50 record and making three Bowl Game appearances. His legacy is, as those results imply, pretty complicated.
If you had to sum up Stoops’ tenure in Arizona with one word, it would be: disappointing.
The Wildcats hired him in 2004, when they were working off a 2-10 season under two different head coaches. The hope was that he could build up the program into a defensive force, one that would become a staple in the national polls.
Those ambitions never became a reality. It took Stoops four seasons before he could tally his first above-.500 record. Rebuilding programs can take time, but that transition is on the longer end. Arizona didn’t make many waves in the recruitment process, and those results showed on the field.
It is a borderline miracle Stoops lasted long enough to even begin to turn things around. People were clamoring for his departure around 2007, in the middle of his third season, after the team dropped to 2-6 following a 21-20 home loss to Stanford.
Arizona insisted that Stoops would be given an additional season at the time. It paid off. The Wildcats went 8-5 (5-4 in the conference) the next season, with a top-20 offense. They made their way to the Las Vegas Bowl, which they won 31-21 over Bringham Young.
In the two seasons that followed, though, Stoops was unable to build off that success. The Wildcats went 8-5 again in 2009 and were shut out in the Holiday Bowl by Nebraska, 33-0. The following season was even worse. The Wildcats went 7-6 in 2010, with a losing record in their conference, before falling in the Alamo Bowl to Oklahoma, 36-10.
After getting off to a 1-5 start in 2011, Arizona elected to fire Stoops. He went on to become the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma between 2012 and 2018, a position he was fired from after the Sooners suffered a 48-45 loss at the hands of the Texas Longhorns. Stoops is currently a member of Alabama’s staff as an off-field analyst.
Arizona, meanwhile, went on to experience modest success by Stoops’ successor, Rich Rodriguez. He turned in four consecutive winning seasons that included three Bowl Game victories, before hitting a rough patch over the next two years. He has since been replaced by Kevin Sumlin, who is currently working off two below-.500 seasons to himself.
In hindsight, given how much Arizona has struggled to be a college football mainstay, it’s fair to ask: Was Stoops ever really the problem?
nfaadmin October 13th, 2011
Posted In: CFB
Few NFL rivalries have as much history as the one between the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. Tensions always tend to be higher when division foes square off, but their contentious relationship is one forged over the course of years and through the crucible of many, many head-to-heads.
Green Bay leads the all-time series vs. Minnesota 62-54-3. That’s not a huge gap considering how many seasons’ worth of games are involved, but the Vikings have needed to recoup serious ground to even get this close to the Packers.
It took Minnesota five years after joining the NFL to pick up its first victory against Green Bay. A full half-decade is quite the drought.
The height of their rivalry may have come in 2005, the first year that both squads met in the playoffs. The Vikings jumped out to an early lead and ended up winning, 31-17. This matchup also happened to be one of Brett Favre’s worst postseason contests. He threw four interceptions and was flagged for an illegal forward pass on a critical third-and-goal. The Packers would go on to miss the 28-year-old field goal on that drive.
On top of all that, when Randy Moss caught his second touchdown of the game for the Vikings, he celebrated by fake-mooning the Green Bay crowd. The modern-day NFL remains ultra-conservative, so you can imagine how that form of taunting was received.
Speaking of Favre: He further contributed to the rivalry in 2008. He decided that he wanted to come out of retirement, and when it was clear the Packers didn’t want him, he expressed a desire to play for—you guessed it—the Vikings.
This didn’t sit too well with the Green Bay organization. They filed tampering charges against Minnesota and, in the ultimate display of pettiness, traded Favre to the New York Jets. He played out a season there before then signing with the Vikings that next year.
To be honest, though, the rivalry between Minnesota and Green Bay has sort of fizzled. The Packers have become postseason mainstays and Super Bowl champs with Aaron Rodgers under center, while the Vikings have remained solid to really good. That should be a recipe for butting heads.
At the same time, both squads have dealt with more internal strife. From the Packers not maximizing Rodgers in recent years, to the Vikings churning through a handful of quarterbacks over a years-long span, this rivalry has lacked the requisite continuity.
Maybe, just maybe, it’ll be rekindled sometime soon.
nfaadmin October 13th, 2011
Posted In: NFL