With the most wins of the six member schools in the last four seasons the Hogs have been a model of consistency. That includes four consecutive winning seasons and four bowl trips, including three on New Year's Day. But still the song remains the same for head coach Houston Nutt as it does for every coach in the ultra-competitive SEC--what have you done for me lately.
"The question I get isn't, 'Are you going to take us to a fifth-straight bowl?'" Nutt said about his talks to fans around Arkansas this summer. "My question is, 'Coach, are you going to take us to the next level?' I'm trying. 'Well, are you going to take us to the BCS? We want to go to the BCS.' I do too. I just know that it's a tough, tough deal these days. These helmets (SEC school helmets), there's not one cupcake, not one...they'll give anybody in the country a ball game and most likely will come out on top, but I'm partial."
Nutt was one of the more entertaining speakers on day one of SEC Media Days.
While the task at hand for the Razorbacks is to get back to the SEC title game, the summer has not been a good one for Nutt and company. Star defensive back Ken Hamlin and running back Cedric Cobbs have both been in trouble with the law on several occasions and that has taken its toll on the team. With Hamlin still serving time for his second drunken driving charge, Nutt says that he along with his coaching staff will make a decision on his future when the time comes.
"Ken Hamlin is in jail as we speak," Nutt told the media at the 2002 SEC Football Media Days. "I'm just going to wait. There are some things he has to do for us. He's also in some classes, step-by-step alcohol type classes. We're going to wait until his sentence is over and probably in about two weeks we'll address the situation."
One thing the Hogs do have going for them is a favorable schedule. Despite some obvious holes up front on defense and on the left side of the offensive line, the Razorbacks have been picked by some to be the team to beat in the West. The reason for that is a schedule that features home games against Boise State and South Florida to open the season before Alabama comes to town. After going to Tennessee and Auburn, they are hosts to Kentucky, Ole Miss and Troy State before venturing out on the road again to South Carolina. The final three games are at home against Louisiana-LaFayette, at Mississippi State and they end the year at home vs. LSU. All-in-all a favorable ride for the Hogs in their quest to get back to Atlanta.
"I feel better about our schedule than I did last year," Nutt noted. "I think sometimes our fans look at our kids and say, ‘That's a nice schedule.' It is compared to last yea, but you look at Troy State. Ask Jackie Sherrill about Troy State. South Florida went to Pittsburgh and beat Pittsburgh. They're not cupcakes, they're real football teams. As much parity as there is in college football you better buckle up and be ready to go each game."
Tiger Ticket Extra: Arkansas has been tough at home during the Houston Nutt era. As a matter of fact they own the best home winning percentage in the Western Division during that span with a record of 23-3. The next best record is Mississippi State at 19-5. Overall, the Hogs are 30-18 with Ole Miss next at 29-19...If tight end Jason Peters lines up on the right side of the offensive line for the Hogs, look out. At 6-5, 315 he is easily the biggest tight end in the league. When you line him up beside 6-5, 330 Shawn Andrews at tackle and 6-5, 315 Mark Borkermann at guard you have the makings of an imposing line to run behind.