State of the Hogs: Fun in 2010

There is just one burning question left to answer to start 2010. It appears Ryan Mallett is close to giving Arkansas football fans the answer they want.

Now that Bobby Petrino has a full staff of coaches and Courtney Fortson is in John Pelphrey's starting five, we can return to the Ryan Mallett question. Does he stay or does he go?

I've heard all of the arguments about why Mallett should play quarterback at Arkansas one more season. There are some good ones. As of Thursday afternoon, it looked as if he liked those reasons best. It seemed he was a hard lean to coming back. Perhaps his announcement comes as soon as Friday.

Yes, he's likely to be in the hunt for a Heisman Trophy. He could be the first Razorback with one of those stiff arm trophies. Yes, it's a real possibility.

Mallett could earn millions of dollars more with another year of progress and maturity. And he could have another year without taxes.

That last one was not meant to be taken seriously.

But it was one of the reasons Jonathan Luigs gave for coming back for his senior year. He said he just wasn't ready to pay taxes.

Selfishly, we all want Mallett back for another year. We have visions of a run for the SEC West title. Most don't think that's possible in 2010 without Mallett.

That may or may not be reality. I won't make that call until I see the defense in August. Is the secondary better, specifically if there is better talent at cornerback? How will the defensive line be without Malcolm Sheppard and Adrian Davis?

Personally, I think Arkansas will be excellent at quarterback with Tyler Wilson as the starter and possible relief help from Brandon Mitchell. I think Mitchell can give some help to the running game with his quick, fast legs. Yes, that would be a two-quarterback system.

Sure, Mallett is a year further down the road in the Petrino scheme. Sure he's got rare ability to throw the deep stuff.

I understand why Mallett might opt for the NFL this year. For all of the talk about making more money by waiting a year, I also understand there might not be a 2011 NFL season because of a work stoppage.

But it might not be about money. It might just be about taking the next step. Someone asked me if I thought Mallett liked the college atmosphere. Would he just like to be a college kid one more year?

If he played another position or had a different makeup when he first got to campus, perhaps that would hold the key.

Perhaps he enjoyed the college atmosphere a little too much when he first arrived in college. That's one of the things Garrick McGee, the QB coach, had to change in Mallett's redshirt season. He put the clamps on some of Mallett's off-the-field fun.

Petrino's way of doing things is as close to an NFL environment as there is in college. He promotes it in recruiting as preparation for the next level. There are no movies the night before games. It's business. That's not all bad. The Arkansas program ached for a lot of that. It was a good transition.

Petrino's training system for quarterbacks is similar to the NFL. The checks, reads, film study and preparation are NFL-like in every way.

If you are Mallett, you can look at it two ways. You can make more money by staying in that system one more year. Or, he might decide that if he's going to have to do all of that, might as well be paid. Business is business.

Mallett seems like a good kid. He seems to love playing for the Razorbacks. He grew up with a passion to play Arkansas football.

However, Mallett also grew up with a passion to play in the NFL. That's reality.

Still, it may come down to dollars. What do they say? When it's not about money, it's probably about money.

Maybe he's figured out the money is better in 2011 than it will be this spring. That's what it looked like Thursday. If true, it's going to be a fun 2010 in the Ozarks.


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