Arkansas has never had a Heisman Trophy winner. That may change this year, and it couldn’t happen at a better time. Darren McFadden, our readers’ pick as Best Athlete, will enter the season as the front-runner — an apt turn of phrase, if we say so ourselves — for the award that is given annually to the best college football player in the nation. He was second in the voting last year; both the winner and the No. 3 finisher have moved on to the pros. McFadden won the 2006 Doak Walker Award, given to the best running back in the country, and was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year.
The Razorbacks had a good season last year, winning the Western Division of the SEC, and they need another desperately. In the off-season, the Razorbacks have been beset by controversy and acrimony. A couple of well regarded and highly recruited players transferred to other schools. The offensive coordinator left too. Houston Nutt has been under savage attack, and one of the savages is the sports editor of the state’s largest newspaper. Recruiting has suffered. Lawsuits have been filed. McFadden will be running not just for himself and the 2007 team, but for the program.