Reading news media reports about the latest collapse of the zombies in Razorback red gave no solace. Turnovers. Tackling. Injuries. Talent. Plenty of descriptive blather, all ignoring the heaving, smelly, 9,000-pound blob in the room.
Does everyone understand what we witnessed? It was the worst surrender of an Arkansas athletic team ever. In history. The Duck Pigs did not even compete as well as last year's Alabama wipeout. Remember, that one ended 52-0, but the Hogs stopped the Tide several times before interceptions and fumbles led to a rout. And this opponent, South Carolina, was not nearly as good. What on earth is going on inside this team?
Fan sites take down the quotes, post the weekly platitudes and encomiums. Stop! Why write that garbage and ignore the real questions?
Bret Bielema, I'm talking to you. How do you have so little control over your football team? You did not teach them that. What is failing here?
Damn. This game was the worst farce. Ever. Incredibly, inconceivably bad. Far less talented SEC teams never got assblasted like that. We did not even get a reach-around! Arkansas could not have been worse, had I coached the game off a Taco Tico napkin game plan.
Seriously. Worse than uncoached. What happened? No, it was not a relapse of 2012. This was worse. Saturday made John L. Smith look like a brain surgeon. What levers do the Razorback coaches have left to pull? They had nothing. Nothing. I might have seen the Winslow Squirrels play a game that bad once. All I got. Abject hopelessness.
I saw plenty of stories running down the talent level, from national media and Razorback beat writers. Sorry. South Carolina is no better than usual. Arkansas was intentionally bad. Had to be. How do you get seven first downs in an entire game? How does your opponent get to run 52 more plays? It cannot happen by mistake. The players must not believe in the plan. This disaster looked like a sit-down strike. I challenge a player or coach, any of them, to come on here and explain how that was not a deliberate, intentional failure. Come to think of it, the friggin' Squirrels had more than seven first downs.
Maybe it all comes down to the quarterback having a total yellow stain episode. When Brandon Allen threw yet another "suckered you again" interception, when Allen could not get through the first damned quarter before committing that sin of sins again, perhaps that destroyed team morale. Whatever. Arkansas has had bad QB play before and not come apart like that. Back in 1996, when Arkansas had Pete Burks, the soon-to-be national champion Florida only scored 42 in Fayetteville. At the time, that was the most points a Razorback team had allowed at home since 1931. Again - vastly superior opponent compared with South Carolina.
Hey coaches. If you ever wondered what "failure to reach your players" looks like - that was it. Regardless of who is to blame - Bobby Petrino for vapid recruiting, JLS for leaving the team at recess all last season, Bielema for being there. Petrino and Smith are gone. You get to be remembered for that landmark accomplishment forever in the annals of Razorback football. "It was one game." No. It was a monumental disaster. It's one of those return-your-paycheck weeks.
This rant is more against the dance-around-the-subject than anything else. I don't care if Chris Ash or Sam Pittman has "never been a part of anything like that." Why. Did. It. Happen. The program low point of recorded history has passed. This is not muddle-through time anymore.
We need, I'd say, 1,000% more information about what in Frank's name happened to this football team. The talent excuse is not credible. Saturday, Arkansas looked like a poorly assembled and coached team. Are players assigned to the wrong positions? When faced with a choice, usually the coaches selected the slower, untalented upperclassman. Now it's midyear, shock! Too slow. The offense and defense, constantly putting out fires, have been unable to add anything to the playbook but basics and gimmicks. Opponents have a far fuller selection. Arkansas runs out of its usable plan after one drive. No answers, always met with superior preparation.
We knew going in that the offense would be run by two ex-Vols and assorted others in their first time together, with Bielema 's general instruction to run first. What a failure. We also knew the head coach was a Big Ten defensive coordinator, as was his first lieutenant, and the secondary coach was Big Ten too. Were they doomed, or did they just hamstring themselves by putting slow guys at LB and in the secondary? Is it an absence of talent compounded by injuries?
No, I suspect the rest of 2013 will be like 2005, when USC scored 70 on us, and Houston Nutt assured us the Trojans would proceed to mow down the world. USC never made anyone else look that bad, ever again.
For Saturday's performance, Arkansas is the front-runner to win a Razzy for Worst Actors in the Role of a Football Team. Arkansas was so bad, Uwe Boll saw it and decided he could make another film at least that good. And he could. Compared with the Arkansas-South Carolina game video, drying paint feels kinda sexy.
No. John L. Smith did not screw up this team. Bobby Petrino did not leave this team with insufficient talent to assemble a two-deep. They did not do this. No matter what happens next, this is the low point. Alabama cannot rolling-pin the Hogs any flatter.
Steamrolled on homecoming by the Gamecocks, whose previous accomplishment was a 7-point home squeaker over Kentucky (loser to Western Kentucky, which lost to Louisiana, which lost to ...): That's where we are.
Petrino's first season at Arkansas was not a barrel of laughs. He had to deal with a group of veteran players, several starters, who had quietly remained loyal to Nutt. Fans were similarly divided. The 2008 schedule began with two disturbingly difficult wins over otherwise bad opposition. Then came a three-game stretch (Alabama, Texas, Florida) - outscored 139-31.
Did that team sit on the coach crying and eating gallons of ice cream? In their last seven games (four on the road), the '08 Hogs won three times and never lost by more than 13. They played a succession of nail-biters. Arkansas was this close to making a bowl game, ultimately sabotaged by a handful of traitors.
After Ken Hatfield left and Jack Crowe stayed, Arkansas in 1990 had its then-worst season since Frank Broyles had reinvented the program. That team was bad enough to lose in Little Rock to TCU and Rice. Closest thing to a surrender game was going down 62-28 at Houston, where John Jenkins ran up the score. Even 1990 did not ever see Razorbacks running about like denuded Tyson chickens, when a home game was in doubt.
Saturday's no-show was unprecedented. It was appalling. Frightening. Disheartening. And, just maybe, it might have been a message, if we can find someone to decode it.