As an Arkansas kid playing at Arkansas, it’s hard to top what Wilson has done in his five years with the Razorbacks. It is hard to believe Saturday’s game with LSU is the end.
Entering the final game of his Razorback career Wilson has 27 school records. He helped guide the team to 11 wins during a glorious 2011 and Wilson has been the face of the program during a difficult 2012.
Ordinarily you’d want to see as much of a guy like that on the field as you could, especially with his career winding down.
But it's a shame we haven't seen less of Wilson recently.
That's right. You read it correctly. It's a shame we haven’t seen less of Wilson.
These last two weeks unraveled quickly for the Razorbacks (4-6) at South Carolina and at Mississippi State. When it became apparent the games were out of reach, Wilson should have been given a rest in favor of redshirt freshman Brandon Allen.
Arkansas, which started ranked in the Top 10 and doesn’t have much to show for it this season, will still have a program in 2012 after Wilson and this temporary coaching staff are gone. Wilson will still have a football career after this season ends.
So Wilson should have been on the sidelines for the bulk of the fourth quarters of those losses. He gave up a lot financially to come back for his senior season and having him on the field so late in blowouts is wrong.
And it’s risky.
And it’s shortsighted.
And it’s dumb.
Allen has thrown four passes since filling in for a concussed Wilson during the Alabama loss. Presumably, Allen will be the quarterback next year, so he needs some snaps to get a better feel for the game.
Why nobody at Arkansas figured this out is troubling. If you’re looking for why the team has struggled the way it has, this is as good an example as any. There are, as Morning Rush co-host Derek Ruscin puts it, no adults in charge.
Coaches have apparently left the decision of when to leave games up to Wilson.
While it’s hard to argue with John L. Smith’s theory that Wilson has "earned the right" to make some decisions, the staff owes it to the quarterback to get him off the field in blowout losses.
We’re not talking about leaving the locker room iPod playlist up to Wilson’s discretion here.
Above anything else Wilson has earned is the right to have the people in charge look out for his best interest. He’s given everything he has to Arkansas football, so it isn’t too much to ask the coaches to step in here.
Wilson has let it be known — in words and deeds — how much the program means to him. He grew up less than 90 miles away from Fayetteville and was able to make a late switch to the Razorbacks after originally being committed to Tulsa as part of the 2008 signing class.
Remember his impassioned speech following the Alabama game?
No. The other one.
Wilson visited with media on the Monday following the Alabama game. He was explaining why he publicly called teammates out for quitting against the Crimson Tide.
Arkansas — the school and state — are that important to him.
"I’m an Arkansas kid. I know how much it means to me growing up, to a lot of you guys in this room to a lot of the fans in the stands to see that display out there on the field, the product we displayed. And it’s tough. And I wanted everybody to know that that is not acceptable here and going forward we are going to do the best we can. I’m going to do the best I can to keep everybody together and display a much better product out there on the field. Period."
Nobody — fans, teammates, opponents or pro scouts — can question Wilson’s devotion or toughness.
It is apparent Wilson loves and respects his game, his team and his university. It’s a shame his coaches haven’t shown him the same love and respect back.
Chris Bahn is Northwest Editor of Arkansas Business and a contributor to Arkansas Expats. Follow him @cbahn.