This is an excerpt of a column I wrote for Sporting Life Arkansas. You can read it in its entirety here.
At a certain point, we all want to look forward in hopes the future can bring us something more pleasant than focusing on analyzing the atrocity we’re just grateful to have survived, but this year, predicting 2014 just seems especially pointless – so I’m going to make a resolution not to do it.
I don’t think Arkansas will go 3-9 next year. I didn’t think they would this year. But trying to figure out where those wins come from next season is quite the conundrum. When you’ve gone 0-8 in conference play and are currently on a 12-game SEC losing streak, what games can you look forward to and say, "that’s a game Arkansas should win"?
We can hope the Hogs will be better for several reasons. Generally, young teams improve from season to season from experience and development. We can see that the Arkansas roster is getting filled with more of Bret Bielema’s own players. Everything should be falling into place a little better than it did in 2013. Other than replacing Zach Hocker, there may not be a unit on the team that you shouldn’t expect to be better next year.
As always, we can look to history to try to make sense of these things. Between 2002-2012, seven SEC teams went winless in conference play. Only once did one of those teams go 0-8 the next year (Kentucky in 2012 and again in 2013). So the odds are pretty good Arkansas will find at least one SEC victory somewhere next season. However, only when there’s been a regime change have any of those programs gone better than 1-7 the next fall.
Does that mean Arkansas is destined for a 1-7 SEC season next year? Of course not. It could happen. Might not. But another reason it’s hard to predict is that the SEC will look so dramatically different next year.