Now that the 2015-16 seasons are over for our major sports, it’s time to realize something…IT WAS BAD.
Sure, some teams don’t have strong years. Maybe it’s a fluke, maybe it’s an issue. But in those cases it is common for teams to make it up in other sports. For college athletics people look at the big three sports: Football, Basketball and Baseball (and sometimes football again). Most colleges have either one or two teams prove themselves defiant and as one of the top teams in the nation. For example, Alabama may be a powerhouse in the football world while their basketball and baseball teams are only average.
With the Razorbacks, the majority of help with the big three comes with our baseball team, as they usually add 35-40 wins to our overall record each year. Basketball helped in the mid-90s and football has never been a big factor (considering there are only 12 or 13 games a year anyway). That being said, when we combine the records of the big three at the end of the year, we hope to have something good, something we can compare with the rest of the SEC and be proud of.
However, this year we couldn’t do that.
WholeHogSports put together our combined records from the Razorbacks’ big three since our arrival to the SEC in 1992. In that span, Arkansas was consistently putting together sixty, sometimes seventy combined wins per year. That’s why looking at the record we put together for this year was so shocking. Two numbers I hate typing here right now.
Arkansas’ 2015-16 Combined Record: 50-50
That’s right, the Arkansas Razorbacks didn’t even put together a winning record for the year. Not only is this the first time we’ve gone .500 for an entire year, it’s also the worst record we’ve had since joining the SEC.
What makes it all the more unbearable is this: we were coming off of a stellar 2014-15 season that ended in one of the best combined records we have ever had (74-40). The basketball team made a NCAA Tournament berth, the baseball team made it to the World Series, and although our football team only mustered seven wins there was the anticipation we had for the next season (the season that came too late). Anticipation even carried over into our other sports, but what we got was kind of a pile of crap.
Let’s look back. Football came as a complete shock to all of us after we took the early losses to Toledo and Texas Tech. Even after we finished the season winning six of our last seven games, damage was done to a season now lying in the Could Have Been section. Then there came basketball. The departures of both Michael Qualls and Bobby Portis was enough to get our boots shaking. But the impact that losing those guys plus the forgery charges certain players received only made for a crap-show of a season. Even when #SplashZone would sink threes all game there was always that chance Fastest 40 could turn into 40 Minutes of Hell. Our basketball team finished the season with a 16-16 record, going one-and-done in the SEC tourney and missing NCAA/NIT bids altogether.
Then there was baseball. This team started things off the right way, going 8-0 to begin the season, including wins over ranked opponents like Rice, Houston and Texas Tech. Even after we got our first loss we were still consistently winning quality games…until SEC play started. Once the Razorbacks began playing teams in their conference (you know, the guys that matter) it was like all talent our players had previously shown went out the window. Every single pitcher we relied on would not get the innings we needed them to. Zach Jackson, our preseason All-American, was moved out of his closing position to be a starting pitcher. The lack of help not only resulted in giving up multiple double digit run games, but it also ended the Omahog season with a thirteen game losing streak.
So what does this mean for the future? Having records across the board like this has to be eye-opening for every fan, player and coach involved. There isn’t anything we want more than for any one of our sports to go out there and kick some behind. Even though we have sports like Track and Field that are top ranked every single year…nobody pays attention to them like our big three. Don’t get me wrong, there were blissful moments where we kicked some behind this year, but the disappointments and the what-ifs severely outweighed the triumphs.
Honestly, I think the only bright spots were in football. The wins over Auburn, Ole Miss, LSU, and Kansas State are the moments that I will take away from it all. As for our other sports, there is nothing I can (or want to) take away. In fact, the way we performed this year almost makes me hesitant to be excited about next season. What needs to be done first and foremost is improving that record. As the referenced article puts it, “50-50 Ball” needs to be a one time thing. Because from an Arkansas Razorback fan perspective it’s rough to see that final number. I never want to see it again. I know we can’t live in a perfect world where we always go undefeated and win three national championships, but come on, let’s step it up just a little.
As much as I enjoy calling the Hogs, I’m not afraid to call the Hogs out.