50-50 ball: Hogs’ top sports sputter after strong ’14-’15

After having banner seasons the year before, Arkansas' big three sports combined to go 50-50 during the latest school year.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long in August lauded the 2014-15 athletic year as one of the best ever for the school.

More from WholeHogSports

http://www.wholehog…">Other sports did well in 2015-16


University of Arkansas sports painting showing from left, Mike Anderson, Hunter Henry, Trey Thompson and Dominic Taccolini.

The recently completed athletic year looks like a dud by comparison, particularly from the point of view of the most high-profile sports on campus.

No worse than breaking even

• A glance at Arkansas' records in the three major sports for men since the Razorbacks joined the SEC for the 1991-1992 school year. Boldface denotes division championship:


2015-2016 8-5 (5-3) 16-16 (9-9) 26-29 (7-23) 50-50

• Def. Kansas State in Liberty Bowl, did not make postseason in basketball or baseball

2014-2015 7-6 (2-6) 27-9 (13-5) 40-25 (17-12) 74-40

• Def. Texas in Texas Bowl, won game in NCAA BB tournament and advanced to CWS

2013-2014 3-9 (0-8) 22-12 (10-8) 40-25 (16-14) 65-46

• Played in NIT and NCAA baseball tournament

2012-2013 4-8 (2-6) 19-13 (10-8) 39-22 (18-11) 62-43

• Played in NCAA baseball tournament

2011-2012 11-2 (6-2) 18-14 (6-10) 46-22 (16-14) 75-38

• Def. Kansas State in Cotton Bowl and advanced to CWS

2010-2011 10-3 (6-2) 18-13 (7-9) 40-22 (15-15) 68-38

• Lost to Ohio State in Sugar Bowl and advanced to NCAA baseball tournament

2009-2010 8-5 (3-5) 14-18 (7-9) 43-21 (18-12) 65-44

• Def. East Carolina in Liberty Bowl and advanced to NCAA baseball tournament

2008-2009 5-7 (2-6) 14-16 (2-14) 41-24 (14-15) 60-47

• Advanced to CWS

2007-2008 8-5 (4-4) 23-12 (9-7) 32-24 (14-15) 63-41

• Lost to Missouri in Cotton Bowl, won 1 game in NCAA BB tournament and advanced to NCAA baseball tournament

2006-2007 10-4 (7-1) 21-14 (7-9) 43-21 (18-12) 74-39

• Lost to Wisconsin in Citrus Bowl, played in NCAA basketball and baseball tournaments

2005-2006 4-7 (2-6) 22-10 (10-6) 39-21 (18-12) 65-38

• Played in NCAA basketball and baseball tournaments

2004-2005 5-6 (3-5) 18-12 (6-10) 39-22 (13-17) 62-40

• Played in NCAA baseball tournament

2003-2004 9-4 (4-4) 12-16 (4-12) 45-24 (19-11) 66-44

• Def. Missouri in Independence Bowl and advanced to CWS

2002-2003 9-5 (5-3) 9-19 (4-12) 35-22 (14-16) 53-46

• Lost to Minnesota in Music City Bowl and advanced to NCAA baseball tournament

2001-2002 7-5 (4-4) 14-15 (6-10) 35-28 (13-14) 56-48

• Lost to Oklahoma in Cotton Bowl and played in NCAA baseball tournament

2000-2001 6-6 (3-5) 20-11 (10-6) 27-29 (11-19) 53-46

• Lost to UNLV in Las Vegas Bowl and played in NCAA basketball tournament

1999-2000 8-4 (4-4) 19-15 (7-9) 24-30 (8-20) 51-49

• Def. Texas in Cotton Bowl and played in NCAA BB tournament after winning SEC tournament

1998-1999 9-3 (6-2) 23-11 (9-7) 42-23 (22-8) 74-37

• Lost to Michigan in Citrus Bowl, played in NCAA basketball and baseball tournaments

1997-1998 4-7 (2-6) 24-9 (11-5) 38-21 (13-14) 66-37

• Played in NCAA basketball and baseball tournaments

1996-1997 4-7 (2-6) 18-14 (8-8) 36-20 (15-14) 58-41

• Played in NIT

1995-1996 8-5 (6-2) 20-13 (9-7) 39-20 (15-15) 67-38

• Lost to North Carolina in Carquest Bowl, played in NCAA basketball and baseball tournaments

1994-1995 4-7 (2-6) 32-7 (12-4) 38-23 (13-15) 74-37

• Lost to UCLA in NCAA basketball championship game and advanced to NCAA baseball tournament

1993-1994 6-4-1 (4-3-1) 31-3 (14-2) 30-27 (13-13) 67-34-1

• Won NCAA basketball championship

1992-1993 3-7-1 (3-4-1) 22-9 (10-6) 33-26 (11-16) 58-42-1

• Advanced to NCAA basketball tournament

1991-1992 6-6 (5-3) 26-8 (13-3) 31-26 (10-13) 63-40

• Lost to Georgia in Independence Bowl and advanced to the NCAA basketball tournament

The Razorbacks received just one scoring contribution in the Learfield Director's Cup, an annual all-sports ranking, from its big three sports of football, men's basketball and baseball. Coach Bret Bielema's football team scored 45 points in the rankings for winning its bowl game while being ranked outside the top 25.

The big three posted a 50-50 record in 2015-16, their worst combined mark since the Razorbacks joined the Southeastern Conference in 1991-92.

The .500 combined winning percentage for football, men's basketball and baseball fell below the previous low mark of 51-49 (51 percent) established during the 1999-2000 season.

Bielema's third edition of the Razorbacks re-established the program as a contender in the SEC West in 2015, winning bowl games in back-to-back seasons for the first time at Arkansas.

The Razorbacks' eight football victories landed above the program's historical average since joining the SEC. Arkansas has 160 victories in its 24 seasons in the SEC, an average of 6.67 per season.

However, neither the basketball nor baseball teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament. That marks the first time since 1997 -- when the basketball team was invited to the National Invitation Tournament -- that neither team played in the NCAAs. Also, men's basketball and baseball did not advance beyond their conference tournaments in the same season for the first time since 1976.

A late collapse in baseball, which had been a model of consistency, took the big three's combined record from 13 games over .500 to the 50-50 mark in a matter of three weeks.

While the Razorbacks' football and basketball programs have dealt with up-and-down seasons and a series of coaching changes the previous 14 years, baseball has been the university's bedrock under Coach Dave Van Horn.

After Norm DeBriyn's retirement, Van Horn -- a former Razorback -- replaced his mentor and guided Arkansas to 13 consecutive NCAA regionals and College World Series appearances in 2004, 2009, 2012 and 2015.

As the baseball program was competing in those 14 consecutive NCAAs, the football program had four coaches and went to nine bowl games while enduring five losing seasons. In that span, men's basketball also had four coaches -- five if counting Dana Altman's one-day stint -- and went to the NCAA Tournament four times without ever advancing past the round of 32.

Arkansas baseball lost its last 13 games to finish with a losing record (26-29) for the first time since 2001.

Van Horn, who had guided his last four teams at Nebraska and his first 13 teams at Arkansas to the NCAA Tournament, said he felt lost and "didn't know what to do" at his postseason news conference May 25 after the Razorbacks failed to qualify for the 12-team SEC Tournament.

"Yeah, it's unbelievable," Van Horn said of not making the NCAA field. "But we'll get it right. We'll get it right.

"It's been difficult for me. Just like right now, I'm rambling on like a madman because I don't know what to do. Maybe we can sit here and talk all day, and then this day will be gone."

Men's basketball has struggled to get back on track ever since Nolan Richardson was fired during the 2001-02 season.

Coach Mike Anderson, known for his loyalty to his assistant coaches, shuffled his core staff for the first time in five years at Arkansas this spring, reassigning Matt Zimmerman and hiring former Hog Scotty Thurman as a full-time assistant coach.

Anderson cautioned fans in his postseason news conference May 12 not to panic over the team's 16-16 record after what he called a recalibration after losing sophomore Bobby Portis and junior Michael Qualls early to the NBA Draft.

"That's not the standards here and I know that, and I get that," he said. "Just think about this year, and the difference in some of those games, about four or five games, was probably a possession. Those things happen. It changes a whole lot of things. ... The culture, to me, is set for winning, and we're doing some great things, not only on the floor, but off the floor as well."

The subpar season on the major men's sports came on the heels of one of the Razorbacks' best athletic years in 2014-15.

Arkansas won a bowl game -- 31-7 over Texas in the Texas Bowl -- qualified for the NCAA Tournament in men's basketball and advanced to the College World Series in baseball in the same academic year in 2014-15.

Both Anderson's men's team and Jimmy Dykes' women's team won their 2015 NCAA Tournament openers, making Arkansas one of only two programs -- Notre Dame being the other -- that won a bowl game and at least one game in the NCAA baseball bracket and the men's and women's basketball tournaments. Like the men, Dykes' team took a step back in 2015-16 with a 12-18 record.

Bolstered by an NCAA championship in women's indoor track and field, the Razorbacks finished 16th in the Learfield Director's Cup, which is coordinated by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. Because SEC teams do not sponsor lacrosse, men's volleyball, wrestling and other sports, they are at a disadvantage in the standings.

Long did not respond to a request for comment.

Sports on 06/10/2016