What is the key to a championship program? Is it great admin, coaching staff, or could it be top-notch recruiting? Can the Arkansas Razorbacks ever be one of these few programs?
With so many aspects contributing to the definition of an elite program, can we adequately determine Arkansas’s biggest problem? Sitting on some of the hardest aluminum bleachers that make a body miss the comfort of even the highest Barnhill arena seat, I’ve had the Friday night light’s chance to view some of Arkansas’s high school talent. Honestly, the wind is more impressive.
Most junior high coaches will tell you that the best programs begin with a fundamental Pee-Wee organization. The great senior high coaches will tell you that a key to their success is learning the system at the junior high level. Likewise, collegiate coaches will tell you that putting a fence around the state is key.
However, in regards to the latter for Arkansas, one must ask why? Granted, what little talent is procreated in our small state we have to keep at home. But let’s ensure that said fence has an inlet. How does this pertain to the topic at hand? For clarity, I’m about to tell you why.
“Bring it on, genius.”
Arkansas, as mentioned, is a small state population wise. In addition, it’s not been a hotbed for blue chip recruits as of late… or ever. For example, over the period of five years, Arkansas has produced a total of 15 blue-chip players. By comparison, the hottest recruiting ground, Florida, has produced 45 in the final year of those five alone. You do the math.
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Watching this game tonight, I’m reminded why the Razorbacks only rock 47 out of 118 (with a plus or minus 2 of 39. 8%) roster athletes from their home state. Let’s face it, as much as we want to boast of how great our high school programs are, we just do not have it. We haven’t had it. And we are not going to have it. Probably ever.
Yes, while we will crank out a few household names sprinkled throughout a few years, we do not have that “it” factor that strengthens our state’s flagship program. Therefore, can we really provide Bret Bielema & Co. with the stud-horses to make his stable one of the top stables in the country? The answer is a resounding no.
Improve recruiting from outside our borders you suggest?
Let’s zip this statement up quickly. Do you really think the top five recruits in Georgia, Alabama, or even the aforementioned Florida are going to bounce on their home states and choose to be a HOG? In fact, pick any state that you want. The best are going to stay home 95% of the time. Meanwhile, that leaves us dueling it out with Missouri, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma for the scraps.
Which reminds me, we would perform much better in any other conference, however, I digress.
“Then we must have better coaching!“
True, but if that’s your biggest rebuttal, then you are missing my point.
I’m not at the state’s high schools, however, I can only hope that the University of Arkansas does everything that the NCAA will permit them to be involved with their athletic programs. Does that mean that at one point we needed Houston Dale making the rounds showing Dogpatch High the inside draw? No, however, one of tonight’s teams apparently lost every page out of their playbook minus the quarterback keeper, so there’s that.
“Let’s do more with less!”
Stop being so nutty…. Think about that one.
Finally (and truthfully), I am not certain if there is anything that we can as it pertains to this aspect. Furthermore, it may just be our lot in life to have to battle this obstacle. Besides, most of you have already thought “Well, such and such program is successful and they can do it”. It’s a tough argument, however, I feel that until we break through the glass ceiling, we will be a :Second Best in the West” at best. Eat your heart out, Longfellow.