We’re sure this is old news to the rabid folks in SEC country, but since all we know about the Arkansas football team is that it upset Auburn two weekends ago, this story came as news to us. On Saturday, an interesting article appeared in the New York Times: Arkansas football, it’s back!
Using the upset of then-No. 2 Auburn as a springboard, the story goes on to chronicle the rapid rise of Razorback football (to #17 in the nation!). It largely centers around a new offensive coordinator (Gus Malzahn), and the three players he “brought” to the program this season:
Malzahn also assembled perhaps the most dominant high school football team in this state’s history. Behind Mitch Mustain, the country’s top-rated senior quarterback, the Bulldogs ran a sophisticated no-huddle, hurry-up offense and outscored opponents by 664-118.
So Malzahn coached Mustain in high school last year, and records were shattered, and titles were won. The Hogs hired Malzahn and shortly thereafter, Mustain spurned everyone for Arkansas. The Hogs probably scrapped the old system and implemented Malzahn’s winning high-octane ways, right? Not quite.
But in reality, the team’s offense is similar to what it had run in previous years when the Razorbacks controlled the clock and led the Southeastern Conference in rushing three of the previous four seasons. The offense does not resemble the aggressively pass-oriented system that Malzahn used at Springdale.
Oh. To recap: High-scoring Arkansas high school power is loaded with D1 talent. Razorbacks decide to hire coach of said high school power. Three players from the high school power follow their coach to University of Arkansas, including the record-setting quarterback. But instead of incorporating the offensive coordinator’s offense, they change exactly nothing from year prior.
So what is this new hire doing? Too bad the NYT can’t just come out and say it: Malzahn was hired to land Mustain. Without Malzahn, they don’t get Mustain. This is as bad, if not worse, than Kansas coach Larry Brown bringing in Danny Manning’s dad as an ‘assistant’ coach to land Manning (result: title); Villanova hiring Tim Thomas’ cousin as an ‘assistant’ coach to land Thomas (result: nothing); and Memphis hiring Milt Wagner as ‘director of basketball operations’ to land his son, DeJuan (result: nothing).
College sports – gotta love em.
Arkansas Doesn’t Have to Look Far to Find Offensive Power (New York Times)