Super Bowl XLIX is almost upon us. The defending champion Seattle Seahawks have made it back to back Super Bowls which is something that no one has done since their opponent New England Patriots did it back in 2003-2004. This years game is set to be better that last years debacle. Seattle has had a tough road to get back with an almost miraculous comeback against Green Bay to advance. Seattle almost feels like the team of destiny. New England is coming off a shellacking of Indy. Controversy as well with Deflate-Gate. New England is playing well and Seattle is struggling some. Both teams have a had a few weeks to rest and get focused. The big questions are: Is Seattle's secondary healthy?, and Can New England put away the distractions? New England has been playing good football for a while now so I will predict:
Listening to Sports Talk radio in Arkansas right now is very tough. A lot of fans like to listen for the inputs from the hosts and former players that are on the radio. Some fans even call in to interact with the hosts and ask questions or answer questions.With every loss the negativity grows worse and worse. Its ok to be upset at losing. Some folks though are taking things way too far by calling for the coaches head after just 9 games. Most coaches don't walk into a new program and win right away. It didn't matter what coach walked into Arkansas, they would not have won that many games this year with this team as it has been assembled. Coach Bielema has been partially handicapped due to two straight up in the air recruiting classes. When Jeff Long was forced yes forced to fire Bobby Petrino and then brought back John L Smith on a 10 month contract there was uncertainty on the hill. Recruits that weren't sold on being a Hog no matter what didn't want to have anything with Arkansas because they had no idea who would be coach or what system they would run. Then during the season the team quit and the bottom fell out. John L Smith was fired as expected and finally in mid December of last year Bielema was named Head Coach. His staff only had about a month to put together some time of recruiting class to run the style they want to run at Arkansas. He did a pretty good job of gathering a few good players. Alex Collins, Dan Skipper, and Denver Kirkland were some highlights so far of the class and were last minute pick ups. With a full season of recruiting there is no doubt that the Hogs will get the players they need to be successful in the near future. Fans need to forget what has happened and focus on where this team is going. Petrino hurt the Hogs pretty bad on defense. John L Smith hurt the Hogs in general. Bielema will get this team to where its competitive and hunting for championships. It may not be next year but very soon. Fans need to also forget about Gus. No matter how you feel about him he would not be doing any better at Arkansas. He is doing well at Auburn right now because he recruited most of those players and was only gone from the program for one year. Fans will have to do something that is pretty much non existent in society these days. That is to be patient. Patience is a virtue and good things come to those that wait.
It's becoming a bigger and bigger issue these days and this season is no exception. The issue seems to be among fans a Northwest Arkansas vs Central and South Arkansas thing. Fans that are most passionate for the games to stay are from the Central and South Arkansas area. A lot from those areas still travel pretty well up to NWA to see the Hogs play in Fayetteville. But for some including myself the only experience they have ever had to see the Razorbacks in person has been at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Razorback games have been played in War Memorial since 1948. So its very easy to see why people are so passionate about games being there because generations have grown up watching games there. Now with that said fans still need to buy tickets and go to the games. Plenty of people show up to tailgating outside the stadium on what is starting to be called "The Course". The economy has some hand into people not buying tickets. Ticket sales are only part of the equation. Costs for the team, travel, and recruiting are playing a huge roll into the debate as well. Some of the decision makers feel the costs are rising to a level where its becoming costly to have a "home" game away from Fayetteville. Coach Bielema said that the bus ride to Little Rock and back is the longest travel they have and its a home game. Starting this year they are flying back from the game and eventually would like to fly to the game and back. Then one of the bigger issues at least to the coaches is recruiting. When the Hogs play at Little Rock they can not host recruits on official visits which limit their interactions with the recruits. Coach Bielema said this year there were about 6 kids that only had open weeks on the games that were in Little Rock which mean they would not be able to get an official visit with them. Understandably this would appear to be a major issue to the coaches and the decision makers because they want the coaches to be happy so they can put out the best product possible and stay with the team. Bottom line is if fans want games to stay in Little Rock then they need to show up and support the team inside the stadium not just on the outside tailgating. Instead of blowing money on beer, food, and everything else someone would want or need for tailgating use the money on a ticket and have a low key tailgate so you can send a message to the decision makers that you want the games. Even then it still may not be enough save the games once the contract expires especially when politics will most likely get involved but if the fans don't show up then that will give them the message that fans in the central and southern parts of the state just don't care anymore. Whether the games go away or not fans need to continue to support the Razorbacks and want whatever is best for them to succeed.