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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema talks with athletic director Jeff Long during Arkansas' game against No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016. - Photo by Jason Ivester

It wouldn't matter if it was Alabama, Ohio State or Texas. Uh, never mind, this column could be about the once-powerful Longhorns, but it is not. It is about the University of Arkansas.

When a program goes from 10-3 and the BCS Sugar Bowl in 2010 and then goes 11-2 and plays in the Cotton Bowl in 2011 to scratching out appearances in second-tiered bowls like the Texas, Liberty and Belk bowls and losing games that appeared won there are questions.

There are no easy answers, but there is absolutely no doubt the Razorbacks have not been as good since Bobby Petrino.

In fact, Petrino was 12-4 in SEC play his last two seasons. Since then, in six seasons, the Razorbacks are 13-35 in league play. That's a difference of winning 75 percent in the country's best football conference and winning 27 percent.

Petrino was/is a great coach, especially on offense. That doesn't mean Petrino should not have been fired, just that the next two hires were not what they needed to be. Kansas, are you paying attention?

Last year, Barry Alvarez, the Wisconsin athletic director who hired and supervised Bret Bielema as the Badgers head coach, spoke to the Little Rock Touchdown Club and left no doubt he was a hands-on AD. There has long been the rumor that he still has his fingerprints on everything from recruiting to the game plan.

He said that if he had made a geographic move he would have changed his offense. In other words, Wisconsin produces more big offensive linemen and less speed, and in the SEC you need both. Bielema didn't seem to understand smash-mouth football was created in the SEC, and every coach has a drawer full of defenses to stop it.

Bielema, who is a good guy and always won the press conference, did try to recruit some speed his last two years, but it was too late by then.

His recruiting was about average for the Hogs, ranking nationally in the 20s and 10th in the SEC.

Looking at the last four recruiting classes -- not including this season's freshmen -- the Hogs signed one 5-star player, McTelvin Agim, and a total of 20 4-star players.

Of the 4-star players, seven are not on this roster. A couple were junior college players with just two years of eligibility and others were injured, transferred or were asked to leave.

A total of 23 have left the program the last four years which explains why the Razorbacks have only five fifth-year seniors.

All four of those recruiting classes were for a different offense and defense, a defense that was switched to a disasterous 3-4 last season.

This scratches the surface of why the program is where it is, but there is still that amazing statistic of losing 14 games since 2012 when opponents came from behind.

Obviously, the Razorbacks weren't in good enough physcial shape to finish, and perhaps that led to a mindset that it would take a psychologist to unwind, but one thing is certain, in the loss to Colorado State the elevation came in to play in the fourth quarter.

This comes from someone who got altitude sickness while there. Someone who's oxygen level dropped to 76, and 75-100 is normal.

Going into the fourth quarter the Razorbacks led 27-17 on the scoreboard. They had 421 yards of offense, and the defense had allowed a total of 234 yards, but playing at an elevation of 5,000 feet above sea level the Hogs gained 16 yards in the final 15 minutes, while the Rams totaled 195 and 17 points for the win.

It almost happened to Hawaii in their opener at Fort Collins and did happen to the Razorbacks.

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  • MaxCady
    September 12, 2018 at 12:57 p.m.

    Hall, you're probably not in the best shape to begin with so leave the altitude sickness excuse out of the equation. What they should have done instead of wasting that $160M on the end zone luxury boxes, would be to offer Nick Saban a 16 year, $10M a year contract!! Now that would have been money better spent!! ROLL TIDE!!

  • MaxCady
    September 12, 2018 at 12:59 p.m.

    No, make that 10 year contract at $10M a year. Use the $60M to buy some better players!!

  • Inquirer51
    September 12, 2018 at 4:24 p.m.

    In 3 to 5 years, when the Chad Morris Show isn't working out, the Powers that Be in UA Athletics will decide that we need another ground and pound attack, and we'll struggle through another five year rebuilding program with another coach who Wally will assure us will lead us to the promised land in college football.

    I've reached the point where apathy has set in. We can bask in the glory of 1964 all we want. Those days are long gone. We can hail "Pooch Kick Frank" Broyles as the greatest coach in all history. However, unless the University of Arkansas is willing to sell its soul to buy an unethical but winning coach like Petrino, and to pay players at the going rate, we will be stuck in the mire of mediocrity in football forever and ever.

  • Delta2
    September 12, 2018 at 8:07 p.m.

    Mostly correct, Inquirer51, except UAF will never be able to recruit up to SEC level; thus, they will remain lower half with the occasional breakout year once a decade, twice a decade if lucky, but still getting ousted by the big boys. The best solution is to downgrade to the Sun Belt or Conference USA, where they can be perennially competitive and every so often have an undefeated season. Then, they might catch the system correctly and have a shot at upsetting a highly ranked team that takes them lightly. Think Boise, USF, and that bunch.

    UAF just ain't a big boy program anymore.

  • Inquirer51
    September 12, 2018 at 9:28 p.m.

    Delta2,

    My only disagreement with you is that Bobby Petrino showed that Arkansas could compete at a high level with an evil genius of a coach. I believe we would have to buy players the way Auburn bought and paid for Cam Newton. As I said before, the University of Arkansas would have to sell its soul a la Ohio State. We might get to the level of a Wisconsin or Penn State. I don't believe Arkansas could ever compete at the level of Alabama or Ohio State.

  • Delta2
    September 13, 2018 at 7:54 a.m.

    Inquirer, Petrino did indeed have 2 years of getting UAF to the upper tier of the league, but that was the breakout year or two to which I referenced. I agree that he had a keen offensive mind but an eventual crash was looming (see what I did there?) because he largely ignored the defense, something you can't do in the SEC if you want to be a perennial contender.

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