Like It Is:

Still plenty to ponder before spring ends

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Arkansas' A.J. Belans connects with a pitch during an NCAA regional game against Wichita State on Sunday, May 20, 2018, at Bogle Park in Fayetteville. Arkansas won 6-4.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas' A.J. Belans connects with a pitch during an NCAA regional game against Wichita State on Sunday, May 20, 2018, at Bogle Park in Fayetteville. Arkansas won 6-4.

A few random thoughts before we enter the dog days of summer:

• What Courtney Deifel has done at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville is just short of a miracle. In her third year as the head softball coach, the Razorbacks hosted their first NCAA regional tournament and are headed to Norman for their first appearance in a Super Regional.

Last year, the Razorbacks made the NCAA Tournament and went to Oklahoma. It all ended there, which is a bit ironic since Deifel started her coaching career at OU where she got her master's degree.

Deifel was a catcher for California and played professionally for three years before deciding to go back to college. She didn't intend to be a coach but immediately fell in love with the teaching part of the game.

So, the Razorbacks are one of nine SEC teams to make the Sweet 16, and they may have gotten the toughest draw with the Sooners who have the best record in the country at 50-3 (25-0 at home), but Deifel and her Lady Razorbacks have been fearless.

• It would be swing and a miss not to mention that the SEC baseball tournament will feature four of the top 10 teams in the country.

Florida is No. 3, Ole Miss No. 4, Arkansas No. 7 and Georgia is No. 8.

If the Hogs get on an offensive roll, they could win it all. Regardless, they should be hosting a regional tournament next weekend.

• This fall, a lot of attention will be focused, or continue to be focused, on the quarterback situation at Alabama, where Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa will battle to be the starter.

Tagovailoa was hurt most of the spring, but Nick Saban announced after the spring game that the quarterback position was wide open.

Look for Hurts to win the job. Yes, Tagovailoa was the hero of the national championship game off the bench, but Hurts is 26-2 as a starter and the only losses were to No. 2 Clemson and No. 6 Auburn.

The problem is Tagovailoa is just too good to ride the pines, but he's never mentioned transferring.

Since last football season, five 5-star quarterbacks have transferred. Monday, Hunter Johnson became the fifth when he said he was leaving Clemson. Shea Patterson left Ole Miss for Michigan, Blake Barnett jumped out of the competition at Alabama, Jacob Eason bolted from Georgia and Kyler Murray left Texas A&M.

Yes, four of the five were from the SEC which says a lot about that league's ability to recruit.

• This is a way-too-early prediction, but in July at the SEC football media days in Atlanta, Alabama will be voted to win the West -- although Auburn will get some votes -- and Georgia to win the East. Don't be shocked if the media votes Georgia to win the SEC championship.

Also, don't be shocked if the Razorbacks are picked to finish last in the West.

• The conversation about legalized gambling hasn't hit full speed, but already the NCAA has temporarily suspended its policy that its championship events could not be held in Nevada because it has gambling.

And within days of that announcement came the one that Las Vegas is being considered to host a NCAA women's basketball tournament.

The NCAA has said it wants an oversight committee to monitor gambling on college athletics, and that would be a good start, but the truth is millions have been gambling on college athletics all over the country for years.

Yes, it was illegal but that certainly didn't stop anyone. Where there are games there will be gambling.

Sports on 05/23/2018

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