Brought to you once again this week courtesy of Bob Marley, Tito's Vodka, and the unholy wickedness of a patiently blinking cursor. Equal parts siren song and battle cry, the cursor simultaneously calls for words and mocks their absence with metronomic consistency. It does not care how lost the team is. It does not care how lost the season is. It does not care how lost the program is. It does not care how much the writer simply does not care anymore. The blinking cursor calls for response. It calls for reaction. It calls for content.
I've got nothing.
My seven-year-old just climbed into my lap and read the first paragraph.
“That has nothing to do with sports. Why don't you write something about sports?”
I told him I'd love to, but I have no idea what to say that hasn't been said many times before.
He said “Why don't you write about my calculator watch?”
It doesn't take a calculator watch to determine that the Battle for the Boot was another catastrophic loss for the Arkansas Razorbacks. The numbers aren't large enough. TJ Hammonds, the best and most explosive player on the team, touched the football three times. The offense produced one solitary touchdown. The team lost its sixth game of the season, and its fifth by at least three touchdowns. Arkansas has played ten games this season, and has lost half of them by 21 points or more.
That is worse than 2013. Worse than 2012. Worse than 2008 or 2005 or 2004. This is maybe the worst Arkansas team of my lifetime. You don't need a calculator to figure that. You don't even need an abacus. You just need your eyes. All of those teams were bad, and they all had more talent and more purpose than this team. Injuries have hurt, no doubt, but much more damaging has been this team's complete lack of an identity. They have no blueprint to winning a football game. They have received no leadership in obtaining that blueprint. They are a rudderless ship, adrift at sea, with a captain incapable of handling the wheel and a crew left wondering what the hell to do. It's hard to watch.
It's hard to watch because, at this point in a season that is to be immediately forgotten, fans watch to find hope in the future. There is no hope to be found in 2017 because the future is so murky. In 2013 and 2008 you could see an identity being formed, and though they were bad seasons, you could see the new pieces and new leadership laying a path forward. 2012 was a lost season, and it was awful, but it was tolerable only because the fan base knew that change was guaranteed. 2005 was miserable, but Darren McFadden and Felix Jones provided hope for the future. 2004 may be the season closest to 2017, the first season of Houston Nutt's infamous two-year pass, but even in 2004 fans got to experience Matt Jones in his senior season. He was exciting. He made fun things happen. TJ Hammonds had touchdowns of 60 yards and 88 yards a week ago, and he touched the football three times at LSU.
Three times. Left with only hope in the future to sell, Bret Bielema inexplicably refuses to do even that.
This is just one reason why he must be let go. The Razorbacks cannot return to respectability immediately, but hope to achieve that in the near future should be mandatory. Bielema is not delivering that at the moment, and what's worse, appears to be making little effort in that endeavor. That is what is turning Razorback Stadium into an empty construction site instead of a weekend destination. That is what is freeing up so many Saturdays across the Natural State. That is why I just can't find it in myself to give a damn. And why you probably can't, either.
Bret Bielema must go. Arkansas football cannot survive another season like this. It needs to be written in every publication and spoken on every radio show. It needs to be made clear. There needs to be no doubt. This fan base needs its Saturday joy back, or at the very least its hope. Right now it has neither, and that feels as menacing as that blinking cursor.
I'll see y'all next week.