Long list of Arkansans await Santa’s visit

By: Wally Hall
Published: Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema stands on the field prior to a Nov. 29, 2013 game against LSU at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.
Photo by Michael Woods
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema stands on the field prior to a Nov. 29, 2013 game against LSU at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

‘Tis the day of Christmas and all through the state, people are ready to celebrate, but once again your trusty scribe ran out of time with too many still on his Christmas wish list.

Here’s what I wish I could have done for so many who toil in the world of perspiring arts.

Jeff Long, athletic director for the University of Arkansas, a bottle of Presqu’ile Pinot Noir, one of the finest red wines in the world. It is produced in Santa Maria, Calif., but owned by the Murphys of El Dorado, one of our great families who do so much to educate the future leaders of Arkansas.

Bret Bielema, the head football Hog, a four-star recruit and the right defensive line coach, maybe Ed Orgeron, the recruiting machine.

Mike Anderson, head basketball Hog, an injury-free season for his third team, which is looking like his best. This group plays more like a team than the two before. Progress is being made.

Chris Peterson, UALR athletic director, another hard but fair look by ESPN and the Sun Belt at developing a bowl game in Central Arkansas.

Joe Foley, UALR women’s basketball coach, a five-game winning streak at the right time in March. The man is a magician: His teams play hard and are fun to watch.

Steve Shields, UALR men’s basketball coach, for his youngsters to start to mature and understand the system.

Joe Kleine, a UALR assistant coach but an ambassador for the state and a personal friend for more than 30 years, continued good health and a quiet family Christmas day.

Terry Mohajir, ASU athletic director who has his coaches all in place and is looking to expand and improve facilities, a great year of donations.

John Brady, ASU men’s basketball coach, one of the nation’s hardest-working coaches, a return to the NCAA Tournament, where he was once a regular.

Blake Anderson, ASU’s new head football coach, a quarterback who has the speed of a sprinter and the stamina of a distance runner.

Brad Teague, UCA athletic director, tons of patience as he evaluates and searches for a basketball coach. May the right decision be easy for him.

Monte Coleman, UAPB head football coach, a return to the top of the Southwestern Athletic Conference season next season, a place he is accustomed to coaching.

Ouachita Baptist football, an on-time and under-cost construction of Cliff Harris Stadium.

For all my bosses at the Democrat-Gazette, a very Merry Christmas and thank you for your leadership.

For the sports staff, a heartfelt thanks for all you do. Sports is the only department that works on tight deadlines every night of the year.

For all my friends, and I am blessed with many, thanks for being there.

For Justin Acri, Tommy Smith, David Bazzel, Roger Scott, Trey Schaap, Matt Jones, Randy Rainwater and Rick Schaeffer, the guys who drive KABZ-FM, 103.7, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., the state’s most community-committed station, thanks for letting me play a few hours a week.

For Ray Tucker and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, a sold-out, standing-room-only banquet to honor the latest class of inductees, and a special thanks to Executive Committee secretary Nancy Williams; she’s never seen a problem she won’t tackle.

Finally, to not be remiss, may Nick Saban, who just got a raise to $7 million per year after losing to arch-rival Auburn (yes, it was to fend off Texas), a meeting with Ed Daniel, the brilliant tax attorney in Little Rock.

For Gus Malzahn, head coach of the Auburn Tigers, one more victory this season.

There are more, but I’m out of space. Let me close with Merry Christmas to one and all.

Sports, Pages 21 on 12/25/2013