Monday, August 4, 2008

Recent history repeats itself

Internet message boards… love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re a significant part of the fan/college sports relationship. These open forums allow fans from all walks of life and all geographies to congregate and discuss the teams they love and the ones they love to hate. Countless rumors – most unfounded and false, certainly, but some have proven to be true – have spawned on these boards.

It’s always interesting to go from board to board to get a feel for the general mood of the fan bases. With SEC football less than 4 weeks away, the boards are officially rocking, and rolling, and what not. While reading message boards this weekend, I noticed several Arkansas posters on the Ole Miss board badmouthing Houston Nutt. These same fans were touting the skills of Bobby Petrino.

Sometimes, you really can’t see the forest for the trees. Three years ago, Ole Miss fired David Cutcliffe and hired Ed Orgeron. Rebel faithful defended the hire, citing EOr being Pete Carroll’s “right hand man” at USC. Bring up the fact that he’d never even been a coordinator and prepare to be told that didn’t matter. Orgeron spoke (or whatever you called those gravelly noises coming from his mouth) and Rebel fans ate it up. Sugar Bowl wins were coming. Or not. He won 3 SEC games in 3 years and was fired. Everyone could see it coming except for Ole Miss.

Arkansas is a similar situation this year with Bobby Petrino. While Petrino is certainly light years above Orgeron as a head coach, reading Arkansas fans comments, you would think he invented the forward pass. Outside observers see a disingenuous gypsy of a coach who has signed 20 years worth of contracts in the last couple of years. They see backstabber who wrangled for Tuberville’s job. They see a coach who inflated his W/L record in lesser conferences and beat only 14 teams with winning records.

There’s no doubt Petrino will be more successful at Arkansas than Orgeron was at Ole Miss. I’m fairly certain my dog could do at least an equivalent job of that. As for Arkansas, outside expectations are low for this season, but reading message boards, a 3rd place finish – behind Auburn and LSU – is expected by some Hog fans. Petrino will be SEC Coach of the Year if he pulls that off.

In my opinion, the question is not “Will he succeed as a head coach in the SEC?” It’s “Will he be around long enough to be accurately judged?”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Hogs will likely finish last in the West. The Mississippi schools and Bama are improving and the Hogs will no doubt take a step back considering the new coaching staff and the talent lost.

It will take Petrino a couple of years to get it going, but he will if he sticks around long enough.