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Special High Expectations Hodge Podge

A few links and thoughts to help pass the time while you're counting the minutes until kickoff on September 4:

* In case you've been too consumed by the Leno/O'Brien late night saga to pay attention to football, I have some good news: Ryan Mallett decided to spurn NFL riches and return to Arkansas next year. Fire up the hype machine!

* Speaking of hype machines, ESPN's Mark Schlabach has taken an early shot at a 2010 preseason poll (very early, we know) and put the Hogs at #16. Get ready to hear a lot of quotes like this: "With quarterback Ryan Mallett returning to school, the Razorbacks could be the sleeper team in the SEC."

* Want to doubly confirm the news by hearing Mallett say it himself? Arkansas Sports 360 has audio clips of the press conference.

* Although my well-honed sense of Razorback fatalism had begun to kick in before the good news broke, I suppose in retrospect it's not surprising that Ryan Mallett decided to come back. He's a high risk, high reward guy all the way...going for the glory (both personal and team) but also chancing injury is not unlike gunning it to a receiver streaking downfield rather than throwing the short outlet pass. That's how the man rolls.

* I like that Garrick McGee weighed in on Mallett's clothing choice during the press conference (note: he approved).

* Lastly, regular readers of this blog know that Stephen and I are major fans of Jerry Hinnen's Auburn site, War Blog Eagle. Just check out his totally perfect description of Nick Saban at the BCS Championship game:

"There can be no better encapuslation of who and what Nick Saban is than last-night’s 45-second sequence, in which he orders his team to score a meaningless, classless touchdown on a team that had already conceded the game*, then responds to his celebratory Gatorade-bathing with brutal disgust and not even the tiniest hint of joy. The reason "Saban is a machine" jokes have become de rigeur over the past couple of years is because the very signs and signals we associate with being human–emotion, empathy for others–often seem to be beyond him. At times like that particular sequence, Nick Saban is not something we can even recognize as a person."