State of the Hogs: Wish List

Everyone should have a Christmas wish list, even publisher Clay Henry. But his are very simple.

Sometime around Thanksgiving, my wife begins to ask me what I want for Christmas. It happens every year. Generally, I frown and wonder why it has to start so early. I just shrug my shoulders and say it's too early to know.

The questions from Jean Ann will persist until I come up with something. I better give her an idea, or who knows what I might be looking at on Christmas morning. I can help her out by filling at a wish list at McLellan's Fly Shop. Nothing bad can come out of that place as far as I'm concerned.

She's done some odd things in past years in way-too-early planning for Christmas. There was the fall she took a second job in the evenings. It was only a couple of days a week.

I never saw the checks. If a school teacher works extra, I figured she deserved to do what she wanted with the money. It's easy to say that now – after I know what she did with that money.

There was a big package under the tree with my name on it. She ordered a set of restored Ping Eye-2 irons from the manufacturer, many years after they were discontinued. She had saved all fall for them. I had mentioned to the local pro that those were the best clubs ever made and somehow that got back to my wife. Wow.

The plan involved the daughters, too. I already had one set of Ping Eye-2s, although the shafts were old with nicks and weak points. Jean Ann's idea was that there would be two sets of those clubs and it would make for some father-daughter outings. It was a great idea. I still feel like those are the best clubs ever made.

What makes my set special is what Jean Ann did to buy them, taking that extra job. It ranks as one of my all-time favorite gifts. To be honest, I don't remember many. There was the Mattel Fanner 50 cap pistol I got as a second grader. There was a pretty cool chemistry set, probably in sixth grade.

I also remember my Uncle Bill, then the pro at Western Hills, giving me a sleeve of Doug Sanders golf balls sometime around then, just after I had begun the game. He told me to use them as "putting balls" so as not to lose them. The temptation was too great. I had never played with a new ball. Always before, they were hand-me-downs out of my father's bag with cuts or marks. The shiny new Doug Sanders balls didn't make it out of January.

All of this came flooding back this week when UA junior guard Ky Madden was asked what he wants for Christmas. He didn't even hesitate when he said "a remote control car." He got one as a young boy and he broke it in the first week.

It made me wonder what Mike Anderson might want. Or, Bret Bielema? Or, Dave Van Horn?

It's fun to make up those kinds of shopping list, really a recruiting wish sheet. What former Razorback would those coaches like to get on Christmas?

In reality, Anderson is in good shape. I probably would give him a point guard like Sidney Moncrief, Corey Beck or a Lee Mayberry. But what Anderson really needs is for this season to continue to progress and his young stars like Michael Qualls, Anthlon Bell, Bobby Portis, Moses Kingsley and Alandise Harris get another year under their belts and Anton Beard make it to campus.

Same thing for Bielema, as long as his recruiting continues on the current pace. He just needs time for the 2013 class to mature, and the 2014s to arrive on campus. There's some standout 2015s already committed, too. Yes, I'd give him a Steve Atwater (safety) or a Vaughn Lusby (cornerback) to anchor the back end of the defense. But more time would be his best gift, if an Atwater can't be found by Santa.

The baseball team needs a Friday night starter (and maybe one for Saturday, too) for the coming season. Van Horn saw all of his weekend starters drafted and signed last summer. It would be nice for Van Horn to find another Nick Schmidt or Scott Tabor to anchor the pitching staff. With his top catchers battling back from arm surgery, the UA baseball coach might prefer to wake up to James McCann under the tree.

As far as me, I'm in great shape. I've got good health, thanks to the fine work of surgeon Mark Powell. He cleaned up my knee during the second football open date, a nice scope job to get things right for 2014. He also prescribed a brace that is to be used when I go wade fishing.

It probably would have been a good idea to have used it last week when I shoveled the driveway and slipped. As they say, you can't fix stupid.

So with a good knee, I have a simple list for Christmas, nothing that requires a second job to buy. A new fishing cap or a soft, warm sweatshirt will do just fine.

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