What a nightmare. Coach Pelphrey's sophomore season looks more and more like a disaster each week. How he weathers this most dismal period in his professional life will define his tenure on the Hill. Already an unhappy few are sharpening their pitchforks, most of the time granting one more year to sort it all out but sometimes calling for his head directly. Such foolishness never goes away. All he can do is grit his teeth and push forward. He'll lose fans every once in a while. Losing his team is the final straw.
• On that note: Maybe Courtney Fortson is the poisonous presence whispered about throughout these past few weeks, but Pel's too classy to throw him under the bus. A suspension might do the young man good for any number of reasons. If any cost-benefit analysis Pel ran through told him that whatever the freshman did off the court trumped what he did on the court, then it was the right call in the long view. Screw beating Kentucky this year. We'll need to beat them next year.
• Sounds like we dodged a bullet on the Marcus Monk affair. While Dem-Gaz sports editor/Mexican food aficionado Wally Hall was a bit coy when addressing the details, it's clear that Monk was a short-and-curly away from an infraction involving money. The situation sounds defensible, but if the NCAA lets us slide by without forfeiting those five games we'd do well to keep hushed. (Oh, and I'm with the Razorback Expats on this one. If Hall comes across a story, he needs to have it reported. Dropping hints in the minefield-free space of a column is for people without access to a platoon of newshounds.)
• 4-22 from beyond the arc!?! Are you kidding me!?!
• This weekend's trip to the coast puts us up against one of the saltiest teams in the East. South Carolina split with Florida and barely fell to Tennessee. They feature an explosive guard in Devan Downey, as well as a large and physical frontcourt. We've actually done well against teams that couldn't hurt us at the perimeter, but I'm through holding my breath. (Last Saturday I passed clean out.) At least it's not televised.
• Good news is we might bounce back against Alabama and Georgia the following week. Bad news is that a loss to either team would pile insult on injury.
Moving on ...
• Jeff Long's second season schedule as AD is nothing short of a failure. Though far from insurmountable, a week two bye followed by 11 straight weeks with only four true home games and mostly grueling sleepovers definitely doles out the toughest hand in the nation. We play Alabama, Georgia and Florida all within a month of each other, and back-to-back away games against Florida and Ole Miss. While I'll give us the hampered Bulldogs in week three, I don't think Alabama's quarterback concerns are going to be quite as large a setback for Nick Saban. Florida has the least quarterback concerns of any team in the country, so go ahead and slide that one over to the L column. Seven wins could qualify Petrino for SEC coach of the year, but the Razorback faithful expect 8 to 10. We'll need all the luck we can get, and whoever ends up under center will have to mature quick-like.
• Everyone knows he's a blowhard and just yucks it up, but Kenny Smith rankled the Hog Nation on Saturday night by relentlessly dogging on Sonny Weems, who was in Phoenix to assist teammate J.R Smith in the dunk competition. Granted, the former Tarheel gave Pau Gasol hell, too, but you'd think somebody would've whispered about Sonny's victory at the college dunk competition into the man's ear at some point. BTW: Smith and Rudy Fernandez got robbed. NBA All Star Weekend has turned into clown college.
• Corliss Williamson finally (WTF?) made it into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. You haven't lived until you've seen Arkansas's most beloved athlete hula dance in Hawaii on a dinky VHS tape of “Heart-Stopping Hogs: The Battle to Seattle.” Also entering the Hall: My hometown of Crossett's own Bobby Richardson, who captured 18 state track titles in his long career. I only run when I'm being chased, but he taught me algebra real good and plays cards on the regular with my folks. Holla!