After today, the future is focus

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Friday, November 29, 2019
An Arkansas football helmet sits on the ground prior to a game between the Razorbacks and Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Lexington, Ky.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
An Arkansas football helmet sits on the ground prior to a game between the Razorbacks and Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Lexington, Ky.

With the conclusion of a third straight losing season for the Arkansas football program, Razorback fans can turn their full attention to the next coach and a different narrative around 5 p.m. this afternoon.

Obviously, some fans did so after the 31-24 home loss to San Jose State on Sept. 21 and others when Western Kentucky ended Chad Morris’ short run as the coach with a 45-19 blowout on Nov. 9.

That’s what happens to a fan base when their team has won only eight of their last 33 games and has become a laughingstock around the country.

I was in Nashville and Denver the past two weekends and heard unsolicited comments about the Razorbacks, even on the bye week and especially in the second half of No. 1 LSU’s 56-20 beat-down of Arkansas.

You may have bristled or been offended by LSU coach Ed Orgeron’s comment after the game on Saturday, but it’s true.

“No, that’s right — there was going to be nothing too much of a celebration for beating Arkansas,” Orgeron said. ”They haven’t beaten anybody in a long time, so we were supposed to win that football game and on to Texas A&M.”

The SEC losing streak is up to 18 and the only conference win in the past three seasons was over Ole Miss, 38-37, on Sept 28, 2017.

How bad is it? A Missouri team that has lost five straight games is a 13-point favorite over Arkansas in Little Rock today.

Razorback interim coach Barry Lunney Jr., is the only assistant coach who has been around for the last three years.

“Our charge beginning in the locker room after the LSU game has been to play our best football game on Friday against Missouri,” Lunney said. “It’s been a tough three years for this program and the fans. My vision as the acting head coach and a former Razorback is to put aside the last three years and unite for 3.5 hours and have moment as a state.

“It hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to go, but we have another opportunity to rally together and unite our fans and football team to create an atmosphere and result we’re proud of.”

Obviously, the next guy up has a tough challenge ahead of him. In addition to not having enough talent on the current roster, he will be playing catch-up in recruiting.

Eight of the 14 commits Arkansas had in its 2020 recruiting class when Morris was fired have reopened their recruiting.

What will that list look like when the early signing period rolls around on Dec. 18-20?

It is the second time in three years, the same number of years that the early signing period has been around, that the Razorback football program will be playing catch-up.

The Razorbacks are currently ranked 116th nationally in the 24/7 composite rankings.

Not only is that last in the 14-team SEC, but behind teams such as Rutgers, Charlotte, Rice, Texas San-Antonio, Liberty, Kent State, Louisiana Tech and Western Michigan.

Arkansas State is 96th in those same rankings.

It’s hard to get out of the bottom of the SEC, with four teams in the top 10 nationally this week, if you are facing challenges such as that.

The new Razorback coach will open the 2020 season with a home game against Nevada, which has a win over a Top 25 team this season, and then a road game at Notre Dame.

A win over Missouri would sure help those in the program for the next 10 months.

Dudley Dawson is the recruiting editor for Hawgs Illustrated magazine.

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