At what point does the future become more important than the present?
When the present has become too miserable to bear? When the future is the only thing that gives us hope?
For a lot of Arkansas fans, the future has been way more important than the present since about the time of the Rutgers game. The season from L can't end soon enough. It's time to end this misery, find out who the new coach is, and move on to recruiting and basketball and baseball.
But for the Razorback players, the dichotomy between the future and the present is less clear.
Does the terrible, awful, no-good coaching staff continue to play the veterans because they've earned their time on the field, or do they start to plug in some freshmen and sophomores to prepare them for their future and the future of the program?
Right now, it's not entirely obvious what the coaches should do. These final two games are conference games against SEC west teams, and I do think that the veterans deserve to start and finish these last two games. They've had to put up with a lot of disappointment (and a lot of bullshit) this year, so they should get the chance to play out the end of the season.
But on the other hand, the instant that the proceedings become too lopsided, it's probably time to start plugging in the backups and putting what they can put on film. Next year's coach will have plenty of spots to fill, so now is as good a time as any to see what's still in the tank in Fayetteville.
The coaches can't do any wrong, really - they've already messed up enough this season - but I would make sure that Tyler Wilson and Cobi Hamilton and others get their full due in these last two games. (And I would make sure that the fans give those two guys a standing ovation in Fayetteville next week against LSU.)
But first, the task at hand: Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are quite good, but they're not greator elite, and they'll probably win this game and go on down the road to do just fine in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl or Gator Bowl or Outback Bowl or whatever. Their season is pretty much set. If they beat Arkansas and Ole Miss to end the year, they've had an excellent season, their three losses would be to the three best teams in the SEC west, and that's that. And they should definitely beat both Arkansas and Ole Miss.
All in all, Dan Mullen has molded the Bulldogs into a team that can compete in the SEC again, and his success helps make the case the Hogs should try and hire someone who has been on Urban Meyer's coaching staff as the next head coach - Mullen is 7-3, Charlie Strong and Louisville are 9-1 and Meyer himself is 10-0 in his first year at Ohio State. Apparently these guys are all on to something.
But even though the game might get out of hand after halftime once again, there are still ways to enjoy the game on Saturday - and none of them involve traveling to Starkville.
1. Tweet your heart out: Mississippi State has been one of the most aggressive adopters of social media over the past few years, and they've taken it to a new level this season. They've rolled out a huge campaign to try and make #HailState a thing, and even almost convinced everybody that #SnowBowl12 wasn't as stupid an idea as everybody knew it really was.
Personally, I think it's hilarious that a team in Mississippi would embrace a creation of Silicon Valley so wholeheartedly, but the Bulldogs' marketing team might really be on to something - sports generate 44% of all Tweets, so putting yourself out onto the internet in an aggressive fashion only generates positive press for your squad.
I am completely addicted to Twitter, and I recommend that you sign up and follow us @ArkansasExpats if you haven't already. There's no better way to get sports news (or news about anything else). Side note: Did you know Twitter's logo is named Larry? Get it? Larry Bird?
2. Read a legal thriller instead: Author John Grisham was born in Jonesboro and attended Mississippi State as an undergrad, so he naturally has to be mentioned in this space. His books - and the movies based on his books - will certainly be more edifying, entertaining and interesting uses of your time on Saturday. Personally, I think my favorite book of his is either "A Time to Kill" or "The Pelican Brief."
3. Immerse yourself in political history: The town of Starkville is named after Revolutionary War hero John Stark, a general at the famous battle of Bunker Hill, and the man who coined the phrase, "Live Free or Die," the official state motto of New Hampshire and (basically) the title of the fourth installment of the "Die Hard" movie series.
However, the most famous Stark to be involved with the state of Mississippi is Willie Stark, the fictional governor of the Magnolia State in Robert Penn Warren's novel "All the King's Men." The book is one of the best, most honest looks at politics and corruption in America, and Warren won a Pulitzer Prize for his work. It's absolutely worth a read if you're a student of political history or a fan of modern politics (although I don't know who really is a fan of modern politics). The book was also adapted into a 1949 film that won an Oscar for Best Picture as well, so maybe that's worth watching as well.
And that's the point we've come to so far this season: the point where I'm suggesting watching a movie from 1949. Surely any old black-and-white movie couldn't be less interesting than Saturday's game.... right?
Enjoy the game, everyone.