State Of The Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE -- It was about 15 minutes after Georgia beat Arkansas on Wednesday night on a long 3-pointer just ahead of the buzzer.

A member of the media, a younger colleague that I respect and like wanted to know what I thought.

Without even hardly batting an eye, I said, "Who cares?"

Actually, I care greatly. I love the Hogs. They are my team. It's just that I am now officially numb. All that has taken place in the last 12 months — the rumors, the games, the comings and goings of coaches and players — has taken its toll.

My wife cofirmed in public my thoughts on the Razorbacks years ago at a Sunday School setting in the church gym in Tulsa. If it is said in church, you have to stick with it. It's normally the truth.

The event was a social party with the adult couples class. We played the Newlywed Game and couples went on the stage and were asked questions that their spouse would confirm for points. You know the drill.

I was extremely confident that we'd win. I know my wife knows my inner thoughts, as do I of hers. And, we were — even in a church setting — kicking butt. It got to the bonus round at the end, and to my delight, we were about to lap the field. I was getting cocky about it and was contemplating my celebration dance — even in a church setting.

And, when I heard the final question, I was even more confident. My wife had to get this one right. I smiled as I heard the moderator ask it. "What is your husband's favorite sports team?"

Of course, I was a reporter at the Tulsa World newspaper. I covered what was then termed the Big Four — Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tulsa and Arkansas. I'd told her many times that my love of the Razorbacks had to be shoved aside and I'd write as a neutral reporter. I would not be a homer or a fan. I had no favorite team. I was just a reporter covering the games with objectivity being the main goal.

Since we'd discussed that many times, I knew my wife would know the correct answer. I'd given it to her. So I knew she had written on her sheet of paper the same thing I was writing on mine. Neutral. No favorite team.

Well, that's not what she put on her sheet. We lost the bonus round and finished second in the competition. Someone else got the only prize and I had blown it. You know what she wrote. In big bold letters, all caps: "CLAY LOVES THE HOGS."

We may not have won the contest, but the place was rocking with laughter. We did at least provide the entertainment that night. Of course, she was right, I was wrong (as always).

The point of all of this is that nothing ever changes. My passion for the Razorbacks never changes.

And, it doesn't for any of the rest of us. If we are Razorback fans. We do care. We care if we win and if we lose.

All of this stuff now about what should be done on the football front (or basketball) is about the passion we feel. That's the good news with the bad all wrapped into one giant ball.

I do care, but I'm numb. I am weary of the public relations mistakes. I am ready for there to be more highs than lows.

I will never forget the intense high of Nov. 11. From the start of the day with ESPN College GameDay on campus until the very end of the blowout victory over Tennessee, it was the kind of day that Razorback fans had been asking to see.

All was good, or so it seems. But as Lou Holtz always told us, things are never as good as they seem. Hopefully, he was also right when he added in the same breath that things were also never as bad as they seem.

Oh, please let Granny Lou be right. That's what we call him in our house now, when we see him on ESPN. He looks like he could be dating one of the Golden Girls on that old TV sitcom.

I don't pretend to know what is going to happen next. I know many are upset with Frank Broyles. He's the athletic director and if things aren't going right with the program in someone's eyes, it's on him. It always is.

What I don't know is how his bosses look upon him now. Quiet in all of this is Jim Lindsey, the chairman of the committee on athletics within the UA Board of Trustees. Where does he sit on all that has happened? What do his colleagues on the board think? Does Frank have his votes? Or is his power diminished?

One thing my father taught me years ago was that Coach Broyles always knows where the board would vote on all matters. He knows if he has the power or he doesn't. It may be that he has it right now, but I can't say that for sure.

Will the power change over any of this? Will the board stay with him? Does the power swing back to Chancellor John White over any of this?

Only time will tell. How long will it take to know where everyone sits? Will the stands be full in the fall? Has the pressure on Broyles increased?

I don't know the answers. I'm not that good. I proved that way back in that Tulsa church.

But there is good news. Folks are passionate. They do care. And, so do I.


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