Week off ac­cen­tu­ates the neg­a­tive after loss

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - WALLY HALL

It was a loud, long and tu­mul­tuous week in the world of the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs.

The 28-7 loss by the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville to TCU was great fod­der for ra­dio call-in shows.

There were so many emails to yours truly that it was al­most im­pos­si­ble to re­spond to each of them.

Con­cern was ex­pressed about ev­ery­thing from con­ces­sions to of­fen­sive per­for­mance.

Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Jeff Long ad­dressed the Lit­tle Rock Touch­down Club on Mon­day — and he might not have had the early re­turns on Levy, the new con­ces­sion ven­dor for Ra­zor­backs games — but he did ex­press some con­cern and ad­mit­ted the new ven­dor had never worked a foot­ball game with that many people, more than 70,000 in at­ten­dance.

Fri­day, Long and Ra­zor­back Foun­da­tion Di­rec­tor Scott Varady sent an email to ev­ery booster on their email list apol­o­giz­ing and promis­ing im­prove­ment.

It is a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand how Varady’s Ra­zor­back Foun­da­tion, which raises funds for the ath­letic de­part­ment, had any­thing to do with long lines and an ex­treme short­age of all things

hot dog, but it was a nice ges­ture be­cause the con­ces­sion sit­u­a­tion was way be­low Ra­zor­backs stan­dards.

Low­er­ing the price of a hot dog and a bot­tle of wa­ter from $4 to $3 was nice, but hav­ing them avail­able after the first quar­ter would have been even nicer.

That was the mi­nor com­plaint last week.

Mostly it was about Ra­zor­backs foot­ball and ev­ery coach and even the ath­letic di­rec­tor.

The TCU loss was hard to di­gest be­cause Arkansas won last year and this one was at home.

But a sell­out crowd saw the of­fense score one touch­down and the de­fense get blown up

in the fourth quar­ter.

Bret Bielema’s name came up a lot last week, and while al­most ev­ery crit­i­cism started with, “I like Bret, he seems like a great guy…’ most ended with con­cern about the fu­ture of the foot­ball pro­gram.

Some ques­tioned how Bielema had got­ten such a huge buy­out that started out at $18 mil­lion and is now about $15 mil­lion. Was beat­ing a medi­ocre Texas team in a sec­ond-tier bowl re­ally worth the two-year ex­ten­sion, raise and huge buy­out? That was a pop­u­lar topic.

By Fri­day, the furor was calm­ing a bit.

Maybe it was a good thing the Ra­zor­backs were off Satur­day, al­though they now will play 10 games with­out a break.

A vic­tory over Texas A&M won’t stop the bleed­ing, but it might get the wolves who

want Bielema re­placed off the doorstep.

Bielema took ac­tion im­me­di­ately after the loss to the Horned Frogs, mak­ing his coaches and all play­ers hit the film room Sun­day study­ing what they did wrong and how they can im­prove in a hurry.

A&M Coach Kevin Sum­lin prob­a­bly would have traded places with Bielema in a heart­beat.

No­body has been on a hot­ter seat than Sum­lin since the Ag­gies blew a 34-point third-quar­ter lead against UCLA two weeks ago, and a mem­ber of the Board of Re­gents called for Sum­lin to be fired.

Sum­lin’s buy­out is $11.2 mil­lion, and it must be payable within 60 days of ter­mi­na­tion.

The Ag­gies fol­lowed the UCLA loss with a 24-14 vic­tory over Ni­cholls State, and then strug­gled Satur­day with Louisiana-Lafayette un­til the sec­ond half.

A Hogs vic­tory over the Ag­gies should be ex­pected, and it might calm things a lit­tle.

A vic­tory over New Mex­ico State, an­other bunch of Ag­gies, won’t mat­ter.

But then, the Hogs have im­por­tant games at South Carolina and Alabama be­fore host­ing Auburn and trav­el­ing to Ole Miss. Split­ting those last four, along with two vic­to­ries over Ag­gies, would put the Hogs within one game of be­ing bowl el­i­gi­ble, and time will tell if that is enough for some fans.

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