State of the Hogs: Money Time

This is the fourth quarter of the season, the last few weeks. Never has it been more important for the Razorbacks to close out the last few weeks with some big victories. It's money time.

We've got one of those chicken-and-the-egg situations developing at Arkansas. Which comes first, victories or the money.

Jeff Long has asked for money twice this fall, one for operational funds and again this week for gifts to build new facilities.

No one argues that the Razorbacks have great facilities, but not as good as some around the country, especially the SEC. It's a constant arms race at the top level of NCAA athletics.

Long had all of his ducks in a row when he unveiled the early work done for a new football operations facility, the most pressing need, and some down-the-road looks at other facilities on campus.

The best news of the day came from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation in the form of a $10 million matching gift, a challenge to Razorback fans to donate to the facilities campaign. Long said around $2 million had already been raised.

It's all ambitious in a tough economic climate. But it's necessary if the Hogs are going to compete in the SEC. And it's necessary if they are going to keep Petrino. He's happy at Arkansas, but needs the tools to continue the climb towards building an SEC and national title contender.

It's on the fans to make Petrino smile. But it's also important for Petrino to please the Arkansas fans. He has that chance over the next three months. What Petrino's football team does the rest of the season will go a long way in determining the success of this campaign.

It's clear that fans like what Petrino has done in his almost three years with the Hogs. His business-like operation, coaching style and attention to all of the details of the football program have been just what Arkansas fans wanted after the 10 drama-filled years under Houston Nutt.

Fans like the style of his football, too. They like the passing game and the way he develops quarterbacks and receivers. There's been hints of late that he knows how to fix the running game, too. All of that sits well with all aspects of the fan base. If the defense finishes strong, it's likely that fans are going to be even more pleased with his work.

But it usually comes down to victories. The Hogs stand 5-2 as they finish out October and head to the critical month of November when they'll likely have three tough tests. Yes, South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU will all be tough tests. This may surprise some, but the Bulldogs might be as tough a test as the Tigers when they fall on the schedule.

If Arkansas can get to 10 wins in the regular season, the funds might flow at a high rate for these building plans. It will also make the priority seating plan, the RSVP or Answer the Call drive, easier to swallow for fans. But if the Hogs finish with only eight regular season wins, all of that might be a little tougher for Long and his staff.

I'm not telling Bobby Petrino anything he doesn't already know. The name of the game hasn't changed. He's finishing up year three of his time at Arkansas. He knows what that means. It's time to win and keep winning.

I'm not sure if winning is the chicken or the egg, but I know you need it before the funds are easy to find.

Petrino probably isn't worried about any of that. He doesn't worry so much on the result as he does the process. Fortunately, he's real good at the process. He's going to grind the same in other months as he he does in November. It's just that fans usually judge you a little tougher in November than they do some of the other months. It's what they remember the most.

Go get 'em, Bobby Petrino. Get some victories in the next few weeks. If you are successful, you'll get that new building sooner rather than later.

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