Arkansas mailbag: New football coach possibilities and hoops/baseball predictions

arkansas-arkansas football-jeff long

Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly Arkansas sports mailbag with reporter Eric W. Bolin. In this edition, we discuss potential next Arkansas football coaches, the very real chances Arkansas still goes bowling and both Razorbacks basketball and baseball projections.

Feels like the end

Where does the football team go from here? – WayneHawg

Let’s see what happens Saturday. Arkansas could hang around. Heck, Arkansas could beat Auburn.

To some that’s the worst possible outcome. There is segment of the fan base that is so tired of Bret Bielema as coach, they want to just end it now. Rip it off like a Band-Aid. Sacrifice this season for the greater good.

I think that’s a terrible way to be if you’re a fan, but I get it. It’s like tanking in the NBA or NHL. Makes me shake my head. But fans will be fans. It’s their prerogative.

It’s really a tough question to answer until at least a couple more games have played out. Arkansas isn’t supposed to beat Auburn. But if the Razorbacks lose to say, Ole Miss, or, heaven forbid, Coastal Carolina, this is an easier answer.

For now, wait and see.

The future of Rhoads

Assuming Bielema is fired at the end of the season, what are the chances Rhoades is promoted to head coach? – Alan Gasaway

Right now, I truly believe Bielema won’t be fired at the end of the season. Of course, right now they haven’t lost to Auburn or played the other five remaining games on their schedule. So that’d definitely subject to change.

I think the idea of Rhoads is a good one. I’m just not sure if athletic director Jeff Long would want that carryover from a Bielema regime. He might. Rhoads and Bielema weren’t terribly connected before Rhoads was hired as defensive backs coach two years ago.

It’s just hard to say how many position coaches Rhoads would retain if he were kept on. I tend to think Long would want a fresh start. But Rhoads would deserve to at least get a listen from Long, definitely, and honestly, I think it’d be a solid hire.

Favorite to replace Bielema if

Who is your favorite to replace Bielema outside the program? – Zach Mitchell

To reiterate: I’m not convinced Bielema will be gone.

But to answer the question, I’ll give you two coaches I, personally, would reach out to if I were Jeff Long. I’m definitely not Jeff Long.

If I’m making an up-and-coming hire, I get in touch with Mike Norvell at Memphis. Norvell isn’t even 40 yet, runs the up-tempo and fast-paced offense that fans want to see (and, more importantly, looks like is required to succeed) and he has Arkansas connections having played at Central when he was in college.

If I’m making an established hire: Les Miles. For real. I think he was shafted at LSU. He’s won everywhere he’s gone. Arkansas fans would love to be in a position where 10 wins a year “isn’t good enough.”

Who knows if Miles is interested or if Long is. That’s one of those “why not” throws out there I’m making. But those are my two based on the categories I mentioned.

Can Arkansas basketball make NCAAs?

Do you think Arkansas can make the NCAA tournament, if so, how far? – Brandon Miller

Can they? Yes. Will they? I just don’t know. They were picked sixth in the SEC this week at Media Day. I had them two slots lower (but could justify moving them up to sixth certainly as I think it’s tightly packed in there). The SEC doesn’t usually get six teams in the Dance.

If it does, though, that means the league is good this year. And if the league is good this year, Arkansas will have been pushed all throughout the regular season, which, I believe they’ll be pushed, anyway. So, yeah, they can make NCAA Tournament and a deep run. I’m just not sure how much I’d put on that.

Hogs may be better than last year because of schedule

Do you believe the basketball team could have a worse record than last year but be a better team & get better seed due to SOS & improved SEC? – Fake Wally Hall

If Arkansas basketball is better this year than last, it’s because of the immediate development of Daniel Gafford. No doubt about it.

It’s going to be tough for this year’s roster to eclipse last year’s. There is no Dusty Hannahs-like shooter on the team anywhere. CJ Jones can pop it from deep, but he won’t get the minutes required to hit at the same clip. Some have said Gafford will come in and be Kingsley from the word go. That just isn’t going to happen. Now, maybe by the heart of conference season. Maybe.

If it does happen this year, if Gafford is as good as Kingsley was last year, Arkansas will undoubtedly beat their sixth-place prediction and still be a better seed than last year because that schedule is tough.

Where does Arkansas baseball finish

Is the College World Series a possibility? – Zack Vaughan

I have not given more than a cursory look at the other teams in the SEC, but right now, with that caveat, I’m likely picking Arkansas third in the SEC. Could move up. Unlikely to move down by more than one. I think they’re loaded. Top three in the SEC means the College World Series is an absolute possibility

Basketball and baseball starters

Who will be the basketball and baseball starting lineups? – Number1WPSMan

This is based off who I think will have the most starts at the end of the year, not who will begin the season as starter.


C – Daniel Gafford

PF – Trey Thompson

SF – Adrio Bailey

SG – Daryl Macon

PG – Jaylen Barfod


LF – Eric Cole

1B – Jared Gates

DH – Luke Bonfield

C – Grant Koch

2B – Carson Shaddy

CF – Dominic Fletcher

RF – Cole Turney/Jordan McFarland

3B – Jack Kenley

SS – Jax Biggers

SP – Blaine Knight

A true believer

When football wins out, which bowl is Arkansas headed to? – Trey Prieur

These are the kinds of questions you get when people you know in your personal life respond. Thanks, Trey.

Reality: Arkansas could make the Liberty bowl, I guess. But I’ve been warning – maybe that’s the wrong word – my fellow beat folks to prepare to head to Birmingham in December. I think a 5-7 Arkansas team makes the Birmingham Bowl.

Best band/city

What is the best band band named after a city?

I don’t like Chicago, save one song.

Boston is OK.

Phoenix is meh.

Give me Of Montreal, the 2000s indie rock band.

Great question.

The post Arkansas mailbag: New football coach possibilities and hoops/baseball predictions appeared first on SEC Country.

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