Monday, July 18, 2011

It's Time

Why hello again Hog fans. Have you missed us much? I know I've missed the blog, and after reading through some of our past posts I'm not sure why we let this thing die. I know I've said it before, and I know we've promised to bring back the DSD, but this time we mean it -- really and truly!

Razorback fever has eluded me thus far in 2011 because there have been plenty of distractions along the way. The basketball team was who we thought they were, but with a few more bounces and a little more tenacity they could have pulled off a slightly less mediocre season. The highlight of the hardcourt came a few weeks after the season was over, when 40 Minutes of Hell v 2.0 was introduced to the Hog masses. I watched that press conference on an old computer in my bedroom, and it managed to give me goosebumps several times. Welcome aboard Coach Anderson! We can't want to see what you can do.

Then, baseball got us thinking that a trip to Omaha might be in the works... but as soon as we were sent to Tempe, AZ for the regionals, I felt our season was over. Still, major props to Dave van Horn's squad for a solid season with such a young squad. There is very little doubt in my mind that the Baum Squad will be traveling to TD Ameritrade Park next June, this time hopefully taking home the ultimate prize.

Somewhere in the middle of all of that it came to light that the NCAA and Ohio State had done a royal screw job on the 2011 Sugar Bowl, and that the Hogs got beat by ineligible players that shouldn't have played a down all season. I refuse to get worked up over this, as it is done, and it's time to move on. My only hope is that somewhere down the line OSU receives what they deserve, and that the NCAA grows a pair and nails these cheaters (and other more prolific cheater) to the proverbial cross for their offenses. As far as the Hogs go, what's done is done.

And low and behold, here we are. Slowly, the news in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette has included more and more about the upcoming season. Nightly sports segments have focused on Coach Veltkamp's physical training sessions (holy s*** these guys are pushing trucks!). SEC media days are right around the corner, and apparently the coaches of the SEC respect our team... A LOT. Coach Petrino is doing constant press junkets about what he expects from our team, our fans, and our season... It's a really great feeling.

It's the middle of July. From all that has been shown to the media, it appears as if our team will certainly be bigger, stronger, and faster than any team we have seen in the Petrino Era. We have a coaching staff that expects to win. We have players that know how to win. We have fans that thirst for wins.

It's crazy to think, but this time 6 months from now we could truly be in Hog Heaven -- but we will leave those predictions for later.

Until next time,

- Crown Pub

And if for some reason you're not excited merely thinking about the 2011 Razorback football season, check out this video of a dog attacking a shark.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Tribute to the Glory Days of March Madness

It's been a while since the old interwebs have called my name, but today, I feel I must write.

What has happened to March Madness? Why do I no longer care? Why is it that when bracket time comes around it is merely an afterthought, and the games don't even excite me any more?

Recently, ESPN premiered their 31st documentary of the 30 on 30 series which featured the Fab 5 of Michigan. Aside from some of the ridiculously race driven commentary that was associated with the show, it made me miss what college basketball once was. Honestly, what was not to love?

I can still vividly remember when I gained what my brother calls basketball "consciousness." It's the exact moment when you realize what's going on in the world around you. It's when you finally understand what something really means. I was in a hotel room in Orlando watching Duke play Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Tournament. The game was incredible, and in true March Madness fashion ended with a remarkable shot by Christian Laettner that put Duke on top. That was it. I was hooked.

There could not have been a better time to have realized what the game of basketball would soon mean in my life. As a Hog fan, there was no better time to be in love with the game. For the Razorbacks, the goal wasn't to make the NCAA Tournament, the goal was to win the thing. A season without a Final Four meant nothing. A season without a banner was a failure.

But the Hogs would not have been as special as they were had the landscape of college basketball not been so phenomenal. The Fab 5 defined Michigan's dominance. Duke's 4 Final Fours in a row will likely NEVER be matched. Larry Johnson at UNLV, fantastic. Corliss Williamson, Scotty Thurman, Dwight Stewart, Cory Beck, Al Dillard... need I say more? Those were the days that defined college basketball. Those were the days I fear we have left far behind.

Without getting into the complete landscape of everything that has changed (as I obviously don't have the answers), I'll just say that it's not as good as it used to be. We don't get to know teams anymore. Rather, we get to know players. Coaches don't build programs, they influence recruiting classes. And the tournament simply isn't the "One Shining Moment" that it once was. For two teams to win their conferences to not even make it to The Big Dance is a disgrace by any definition.

For the next two weeks college basketball will hold center court in the ESPN landscape. There will be some upsets, and some breakout players. I hope there is a Cinderella team that makes a deep run, but I'm not holding my breath. Then, just as quickly as the tournament started, it will all be over.

As I filled out my bracket this year, I couldn't help but think about the teams that made me love the sport, and I couldn't help but remember what once was.

Thank you 1994. You are sorely missed.

- Crown Pub

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not OK...

Hi Fellow Hog Fans-

I have not been motivated to write anything until this weekend... And it hit me like a ton of bricks.

The shirtless man-fan. GASP.

Never, I'll say again, NEVER is it ok to go without a shirt, boys, unless there is water nearby. Perhaps a beach or pool? It was hot, but honestly, not that hot. For some reason, Little Rock games are the only place that I find the mythical shirtless fan. I'll let you all draw your own conclusions on that one. Little Rock games defintely draw out, um, let's just say a different kind of fan than Fayetteville games do.

All that to say, I love a good Little Rock game. It's just a different experience. So far, so good! The Hogs are off to a great start. Looking forward to seeing our talent put to a real SEC test this weekend against Georgia.

Wooo Pig Sooie and all that jazz...

Yours, Razorbelle

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Turning Point

After a several month hiatus from the world of Hog blogging, I'm back to shed some light on a topic that is truly near and dear to my heart, Razorback Baseball. For the past 7 years of my life the highlight of my Spring has been sitting in the outfield at Baum pounding Boggs and cheering the Hogs on to victory. In all honesty, it's been more drinking than cheering, but what can you do. Nevertheless, as we enter the month of May, a very familiar occurrence has begun, thus prompting me to answer some questions about the state of Hog Baseball.

Question #1: Have we hit a slump?
Simply put, yes. However, what can you honestly expect out of a squad that was literally on fire for almost 25 games? This is baseball, and teams are going to lose some games, and they're going to have some shaky outings. Fortunately, our previous opponents merely allowed us to overpower them with some amazing hitting, and we were able to rattle off several series sweeps over the lower rungs of the SEC. Now we have entered into the meat of our schedule, and things aren't so easy. Look for the team to be truly tested over the remaining three weekends, and hopefully a real Omaha style sink-or-swim mentality will take hold with this group of veterans.

Question #2: How do we stand given our recent play?
I wish I could say that we are in great shape to take the regular season SEC Title, but the fact of the matter is we aren't. Currently, the Hogs are 2 games behind South Carolina and 1 game behind Florida for the outright lead. At the same time, we are tied atop the SEC West with Ole Miss, who will look to take the division lead this weekend when they host the Razorbacks. We MUST take this series in Oxford, or our chances are all but done.

Question #3: What needs to happen for us to be #1 or #2 in the SEC (a.k.a National Seed)?
For starters, the Hogs must win their remaining three series or the SEC tournament. Without one of those two things happening I fear we will only (note "only") be a Regional Host. However, this may not be enough if Florida and South Carolina keep up their winning ways as this is how the remaining three weeks play out:
  • Weekend of May 7-9: Arkansas must win at least two in Oxford to maintain the lead in the SEC West. This WILL NOT be easy, especially if our bats don't step up. South Carolina takes on a weak Kentucky squad in Lexington, and it can naturally be assumed they take 2 of 3. Florida travels to Alabama, and unless Nick Saban starts coaching the baseball team too, Florida will likely take the series. Result: Arkansas remains 2 or 3 games back
  • Weekend of May 14-16: This may be the series that decides the SEC Championship (but I'm afraid that series happened two weekends ago when Arkansas played Florida). If Arkansas wins the series, they'll gain a game on South Carolina, putting them one step closer. Unfortunately, Florida gets an absolutely TERRIBLE Georgia squad in Gainesville, and this will result in a sweep. One step forward, two steps back... Arkansas (18-9) will be one game behind USC-E (19-8), but two games behind Florida (20-7)... at best!
  • Weekend of May 21-23: Arkansas finishes off the regular season against a tough Vanderbilt team in Nashville. Hopefully by this point the Hogs will be preparing for the post season, and will take the series, which will unfortunately have no real reward. USC-E and Florida will control their own destiny that weekend, and the winner of their series will take the regular season SEC crown, and with it a #1 seed in Hoover, Alabama.
Question #4: So where does that really leave us?
There is a silver lining in all of this, and that is that pollsters still seem to have us high on their radar despite consecutive series losses. If we can manage to beat Ole Miss and Vandy on the road, and if we beat South Carolina, we will undoubtedly playing some VERY good baseball. While we might have missed the regular season crown by a missed call here or an error there, we should still be in great shape to be a national seed. Any showing at all in the SEC tournament should lock up a #7 or #8 seed, and the Hogs will once again be hosting a Regional and hopefully Super Regional in the nicest stadium in college baseball.

Question #5: I see where we can be, but how do we get there?
Fortunately, this week marks a fairly huge change in the way our team will approach the remaining three SEC series. Brett Eibner will no longer have to focus on pitching during weekend series, and can devote all of his time to playing the hell out of center field and knocking the everliving s*** out of the baseball. This also keeps the rest of our defense in their places and allows for people to remain in a rhythm through the entire weekend. Fortunately, losing Eibner on the mound isn't too terrible, so hopefully the pros will outweigh the cons. Any way you say it, this team needs some sort of change, and this could be exactly what they're looking for.

So here we are, at the ultimate turning point in the season. At this time last year the roof was literally collapsing on this team, only to have it rebuilt in the Oklahoma Regional and the FSU Super Regional. What once was lost became found again, and the Hogs found themselves in Rosenblatt Stadium for the 6th time in program history. The road to Omaha will be just as tough for the 2010 Hogs, but it's a path they've all traveled before.

As always... Go Hogs!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dead to Me

This has to be the lowest our men's basketball program has fallen in many, many years. I have said this four or five times so far this year, and now, during the Oklahoma game, I mean it. This team is painful to watch, undisciplined (and I'm not talking off the court), and all around shitty. We have no half court offense, and this could be the longest season of Razorback basketball we've ever experienced. Even the Great White Hope can't salvage this season.
I've still got this game on TV. I don't want to watch it, but I can't bring myself to turn it off. This saddens me.
As far as football goes, I hope it never ends. The gap between the sports of football and baseball needs to be filled by some sport other than basketball. The loss to LSU was painful, but it was a great game anyway. We were playing to be considered for the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, the third best bowl invite in the SEC, but, with one game, slid to a much lower tier bowl, the Liberty Bowl, more than likely, in Memphis. As I expressed my disappointment about losing the game and going to a lower tier bowl, my dad so wisely reminded me, we're not winning any championships this year. The bowl really doesn't matter, but the practice time does. Another full month of practice and reps for this young team will pay dividends next season.
You're looking at a team losing only 4-5 starting seniors and returning all the major players from one of the most explosive offenses in the country. Don't be fooled by all the Mallett going pro talk; he can learn more next year under Bobby P. and Co. than he would learn anywhere in the country. There's always the Sam Bradford argument, but that argument is just as easily countered by understanding that Mallett's probably a late first rounder if he's lucky and likely a second rounder. That money's not the same as what Bradford would have seen. Also, see Mark Sanchez. The future looks bright here.
Most projections show our opponent in the Liberty Bowl to be Houston at 10-2. We're a 7-5 team so I can see the Houston faithful being disappointed in that bowl draw, but that's the treatment we get coming from the best football conference in America. I wish the same could be said for basketball.
We might just drop a goose egg in the SEC this year in B-ball. And here you had me thinking we couldn't do any worse than last season. HA!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Les is More?

'Twas a brisk November evening approximately two years ago when a young, beloved Arkansan by the name of Darren McFadden had a delivery to make to Tiger Stadium. What was the contents of this special delivery? 'Twas a win in the form of "dat wood."

The upcoming Arkansas/LSU game is important on a few different levels.

The first of which has to do with a shoe, err boot. Allow me to explain as if you didn't already know: if you look at the combination of Arkansas and Louisiana on a map, you can make out a rudimentary shape. What is this shape? It's clearly a boot! Whereas other schools have in-state rivalries with which they compete at year's end, Arkansas and LSU have decided to forego geographic rivalries and instead opt for fashion-related exhibition. There's even a trophy shaped, you guessed it, like a boot! Regardless of fashion and fashion accessories, LSU is the biggest rivarly we can muster considering how late we are to the SEC party. It is nice to have a recent national champion as a regular rival, but I will say the whole "boot" thing is a bit corny (but you get it right? It looks just like a boot!).

The second reason is that Les Miles is up there with Houston Nutt when it comes to being a Dick or Johnson (I'm clearly referring to former Arkansas quarterbacks). I wish I could fit a South Carolina joke in here, but I just don't see it. We didn't like Les to begin with, but then he had to go and call us Ar-kansas. That's just mean man! Your transgression against the Natural State has been repaid two years running, so you're welcome.

The third, and most important reason that this is a huge game we have coming up: cotton. If we beat LSU, we'll more likely than not get a bid to the Cotton Bowl. That would be an amazing springboard for next season and it will be a lot of fun to go back to JerryWorld/Ya'll Mahal/Death Star yet again, to face and defeat yet another Tiny 12 team. I live in Dallas and these guys are in a Big XII bubble that needs to be popped. What better way than to bring MY team to the Big D and handily defeat one of their conference's better teams? I really want those bragging rights.

In conclusion, Les is not more, as can clearly be evidenced by his Christmas present to Hooter Dale last weekend. The best part is that Les called for the spike with one second left on the clock after previously letting precious seconds run off the clock before he called timeout. Please watch the video below to see Les lie about not calling the spike and to see him blaming it on the sophomore quarterback.

Let's put our boots on this weekend and then follow that up with a nice cotton wardrobe for New Years. Go Hogs!

The Springdale Holiday Inn

Friday, November 20, 2009

Miss Stake in the Rock

Ladies and Gents,
We're bowl eligible! While that's little solace to what could have been a spectacular season, it's improvement. Why is being bowl eligible so important? Sure, players think it's cool and they get some sweet gear, but mostly it's the extra practice time. The team gets a whole extra month of practice only to "get better." I've just recently come to hate the NCAA and its rules, and this is one rule I HATE. If your team does not make a bowl game, they cannot practice for the month leading up to the bowl games. This rule is absolutely asinine. Talk about he rich get richer. Imagine this: we start practice one month before the season starts then nearly 60% of the practices are only game prep. The month of practice before the bowl games is not only prep for the bowl game, but also a great way to make your team better for the next season. So, on the quest for our SEC and National titles, a little more practice at the end of this season will go a long way whether we're in the Cotton Bowl or the Chuck E' Cheese Bowl.
Now, let's talk about that plan for the Cotton Bowl.
The Hogs will face Mississippi State in the Rock in just 19 short hours. As far as I'm concerned, Misstake is over-matched and should leave disappointed tomorrow. They have a new coach and the best running back in the SEC, Anthony Dixon. If we can stop the run tomorrow, which we've proven to be able to do, their QB Tyson Lee will be as good as done. He's thrown for 4 TD's and 13 picks this season; Mallett throws for 5 TD's in one game like he's Driving Miss Daisy. ADVANTAGE: Hogs
The Hogs will have their hands full in Death Valley with a very beatable Tiger team, but we'll save that for next week.
If we get through both the Cowbell totin' Starkville faithful and the ones who smell of Corn Dogs, we'll be welcomed right back into Jerry World for the second time this season with high aspirations.
At this point in the season, I'd like to point out that betting the Razorbacks has paid off even though Cambridge Hog seems to think it's bad luck. I make a weekly bet that the Hogs will cover the spread with a co-worker, and I'm currently up $15. So, from this point forward, I can't lose money on the season. Also, in what could be the most bone-headed bet ever, one of Rowdy's co-workers bet him $40 that Misstake would win straight up. What and idiot. I'd put thousands of dollars on a bet like that.
Another 11:21 kickoff is not surprising at this point in the season, but, ESPN, seriously? Do you even think about how serious we are about tailgating in the Rock? They can't hold us down; breakfast will be served at our tailgate with a full Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar to wash it down. No worries, we'll have plenty of Boggs for those who don't believe it's ever too early for beer.

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