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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Voters agreed that the Razorbacks are back

by Wally Hall | August 17, 2022 at 3:27 a.m.

It was a big indication that the Arkansas Razorbacks, under the guidance of Sam Pittman, have regained some national credibility.

In the first Associated Press top 25 poll, the Hogs were No. 19.

That's out of 131 FBS schools in America.

That was No. 4 among the six SEC teams ranked in the preseason poll.

It is kind of a big deal.

Let's be honest, in Alabama the Crimson Tide are expected to be in the top three. They have been for 13 consecutive years.

Nick Saban is almost an automatic No. 1.

Understand, too, preseason polls are hard for voters.

Our man Tom Murphy takes his vote seriously.

On a weekly basis at some point while covering the Razorbacks, he will comment he's got to see how this school or that team is doing.

He gets up early on Sunday mornings to cast his vote and his only reward is knowing he did a good job.

Tom voted the Razorbacks No. 15, and that was based on returning starters, not just numbers but who is returning, and the coaching staff, which Pittman said at Monday's Little Rock Touchdown Club:

"Staff is important for stability and we kept every coach ... we wanted to keep.'

Tom, who graduated from Louisiana Tech and covered Alabama before being recruited to this newspaper, shares his ballot each week.

Like the majority of the 63 sportswriters and broadcasters who vote in the AP poll, he hit the trifecta with Alabama No. 1, Ohio State No. 2 and Georgia No. 3.

He had Michigan No. 4 which came in eighth in the poll, while the consensus had Clemson No. 4 and Tom had the Tigers No. 5.

His vote was solid and fair.

Of the top 25 teams, Arkansas has five on its schedule and with all 12 of the Razorback opponents having played in bowl games last season, the majority of the sportswriters and broadcasters have deemed their schedule the toughest in the country.

Their SEC schedule is always tougher than a hard candy Christmas, and this year the nonconference is almost brutal.

In 18 days they will open with Cincinnati, which lost one game last season and that was to Alabama in the College Football Playoff.

They play at Brigham Young, which returns 20 starters from a 10-3 season.

Liberty and Missouri State are coached by Hugh Freeze and Bobby Petrino, who have coached in the SEC.

Plus they get to visit Starkville, Miss., Auburn, Ala., and Columbia, Mo., and none of those are considered vacation destinations. They are tough, hostile environments.

So the 63 voters no doubt took all that into consideration and decided the Hogs are back.

They open this season two spots higher than they finished last season after beating Penn State in the Outback Bowl.

Only four teams who finished out of the poll last season are in it to start this season: No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 16 Miami, No. 14 Southern Cal and No. 6 Texas A&M.

Yes, the Aggies have somehow become this season's media dream team, but history has turned a lot of those teams into nightmares.

It seems to me the Aggies have a lot of potential and question marks.

Yes, A&M has a phenomenal freshman class. But those players are freshmen who haven't seen anything close to the talent they will face in the future.

What this poll represents for the Razorbacks is in two short years under Pittman they have gone from the outhouse to at least playing in the neighborhood of the penthouse.

Last year's players tasted success for the first time in their college experience, and they liked it.

They want more of it.

The Associated Press poll indicates they are likely to get it and more national respect.

Print Headline: Voters agreed that the Razorbacks are back


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