03 Mar

Talking Fayetteville’s Lost Black Razorbacks with the Local NPR

Kyle Kellams

I recently discussed Fayetteville’s forgotten “Black Razorbacks” of the Great Depression era on Ozarks at Large, a daily news and culture show through KUAF National Public Radio 91.3 FM. I always enjoy talking with the show’s host Kyle Kellams, who I’d gander has one of the most inquisitive, roving minds in the tri-state area.

Check out our 11-minuteish interview here:

 

And here’s a preview of the story itself:

Razorback linebacker Brooks Ellis had lived in Fayetteville his whole life, but had never heard of the Black Razorbacks. Not that he’s to blame. Hardly anyone, after all, remembers the group of young African-American men who donned old Razorback and Fayetteville High jerseys during the Great Depression and played football across Fayetteville and the region. These northwest Arkansas locals represented their region against other all-black teams from Russellville to Joplin, forming a kind of regional “Negro Leagues of football” all but forgotten by Arkansans today.

They also upend common modern conceptions of athletic segregation in the Old South. Not only did this team scrimmage against white players from a then-segregated Fayetteville High School, but they did so on the grounds of the segregated University of Arkansas itself — under the watch and tutelage of white Razorback football coaches. Moreover, the white players often visited Fayetteville’s all-black neighborhood to play there. “That’s awesome to hear about,” Ellis said as he sat in the Razorbacks locker room in August 2015. His alma mater, Fayetteville High School, stood less than a mile away.

Ellis noted Fayetteville High School had in 1954 become the first high school in Arkansas to publicly announce its desegregation — “I take a little pride in that” — but the fact African Americans were regularly playing against the all-white Bulldogs decades before that was news to him. He added, “It would be cool to learn more about, obviously.”

Let us begin, then.

Much of the Black Razorbacks’ story comes to us from accounts of their games buried in the archives of the Northwest Arkansas Times, a newspaper run by civic leader Roberta Fulbright — the mother of future U.S. senator U.S. senator J. William Fulbright. The most detailed known retrospective comes from Arthur Friedman, a white Fayetteville resident who attended Fayetteville High School in the early 1930s.

He often watched the Black Razorbacks’ scrimmages and games, and considered those times “the highlight of my growing-up years and school,” he wrote in a 1985 Northwest Arkansas Times article. Indeed he considered the African-American players, many around his age, as friends.


To read the rest of this story, and other long-forgotten stories about Arkansas’ sports heritage, reserve a copy of my forthcoming book African-American Athletes in Arkansas: Muhammad Ali’s Tour, Black Razorbacks and Other Forgotten Stories.

 

29 Dec

James Shibest: “I can remember how chunky ol’ Austin was when he was young”

James Shibest

The Virginia Tech special teams coach recalls meeting Austin Allen while coaching at Arkansas

James Shibest and Bobby Allen are at the center of Razorbacks-Hokies football coaching cross-pollination. Allen, a former Virginia Tech player, has been on the Arkansas staff for nearly 20 years. Shibest, meanwhile, is a former Razorback player and coach. He’s in his first year at Virginia Tech, coaching special teams and tight ends for Hokies coach Justin Fuente.

They will both be on the sidelines for today’s Belk Bowl, in which Arkansas is a touchdown underdog to Virginia Tech according to the latest betting odds.

Shibest, who coached at Arkansas 2000-07, yesterday recalled Allen training his two sons in and around Razorback Stadium. Those boys, Brandon Allen and Austin Allen, have combined to hold the Hogs’ starting quarterback job for the last four years.

“Almost every free minute he had he was working with them boys and obviously that worked,” Shibest told sports show host Bo Mattingly and sportswriter Clay Henry on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly. “Whether it be football, baseball, whatever it was, has paid off. God I’m just so happy for them guys. I used to remember how chunky ol’ Austin was when he was young… He’s an unbelievable competitor, let me tell you. I know all the Hog fans know that boy but I’ll tell you what, he is a good player.”

Here are some more choice excerpts from their conversation:

Bo Mattingly: … What was that period of your life like when you  left Arkansas when coach Nutt took the job at Ole Miss? Then when it didn’t work out at Ole Miss, you had some stuff to figure out…

James Shibest: No doubt. I have really been unbelievably blessed. Ever since I’ve gotten to this level I was very fortunate. I came from junior college and coach [Houston] Nutt hired me. God what an awesome person to work for and learn from. You love your alma mater so much, you want to stay there. It was tough.

Then when we went to Ole Miss went ahead but you got to go feed the family. Really the first time I really ever had to look for a job is when I got connected with coach Fuente at Memphis there. It didn’t take long, it was a couple of weeks. It wasn’t like I had to sit out a year. It’s a tough road a lot of times in this profession. I’ve been extremely lucky. Always having to be at a great place and then with great people to work for.

On coaching junior college football:

James Shibest: Let me tell you it was really a great training. First of all you learn how to go be a coach. Them guys kind of were on their second chance especially the Division I type guys through academics or various reasons. They needed you more. I don’t know if I’ve ever been closer to my players more than in junior college. It was obviously a little bit smaller but them guys really needed your help. There was some deep, deep satisfaction when you could get them to that … back to division one or whatever, to that next institution.

Clay Henry: I’ve written stories about the Arkansas wide receivers of late and I keep pulling up these top 10 lists. I keep finding you in there —

James Shibest: Didn’t do much as a freshman and then, of course, it was a little nerve wracking there. I came in with hopes and Coach [Ken] Hatfield was … Of course all you heard was the Flexbone. I didn’t really know what that was as far as being a receiver, how I would fit in that. It’s amazing how it turned out to be a great blessing. Them safeties have to play the dang triple option in there, and I was out there by myself one on one most of the time and-

Clay Henry: You ran those crossing routes. It’d take a little while. The safety would clear than then ere came Shibest, about eight seconds later.

James Shibest: All right now, I was a lot faster than what y’all say I was.

Clay Henry: Okay, sorry, sorry.

James Shibest: [Laughs] It was pretty cool. You know Brad [Taylor] was still there so we kind of had to throw the ball that first year and end up having a pretty good year. It all worked out just like the way it should have.

The Shibest File
Experience: 27th season, 1st at Virginia Tech
Hometown: Houston, Texas
High School: MacArthur
College: Arkansas (1987)
Playing Exp: Arkansas (1983-87)
Family: Wife – Dianna; Son – James John III, Daughter – Jordyn Grace

Coaching History

Year School Position
2016 Virginia Tech Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends
2012-15 Memphis Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends
2008-11 Ole Miss Special Teams Coordinator
2006-07 Arkansas Special Teams/Tight Ends
2002-05 Arkansas Special Teams/Wide Receivers
2000-01 Arkansas Special Teams/Tight Ends
1996-99 Butler County CC (Kan.) Head Coach
1994-95 Garden City CC (Kan.) Offensive Coordinator/QBs/WRs
1993 Independence CC (Kan.) Defensive Backs
1992 Independence CC (Kan.) Offensive Coordinator
1990-91 Oklahoma State Graduate Assistant
24 Sep

Jeff Long on Cheating, Texas A&M & Scheduling Woe from the Wolverines

Jeff Long

Heading into tonight’s game against No. 10 Texas A&M, Arkansas has excelled in close games since last September — to the oint where ESPN now deems the Hogs as the SEC’s  “Drama Kings.” Arkansas has won five of its last six games decided by eight points or fewer, including three straight overtime contests.

It’s been quite a turnaround from the first 25 months of the Bret Bielema era, when the Razorbacks lost nine straight games by eight points or less. And within that stretch no team has stuck in the side of the Hogs’ program more than the Aggies. In 2014, an unranked Arkansas lost 35-28 in overtime to No. 6 Texas A&M.

Heading into last year’s clash, Texas A&M had slid to No. 14 nationally while Arkansas was still unranked. Rinse and repeat on the heartbreak:  the Hogs led 21-13 late in the fourth quarter but eventually lost in overtime 28-21.

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long knows this year’s go-around, again in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, is big. The winner, after all, will be in the front seat to challenge Alabama and LSU for the SEC crown.

Below are excerpts from Long’s recent interview on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly. We start with Long laying out the advantages of playing this series in the DFW metro as opposed to a home-and-home:

 

Jeff Long: It’s a big win for us to play down there, in many many ways.

First of all, we all know the recruiting that goes on down there. For Arkansas to have that place. We also know how important it is to play in the world’s most fabulous stadium, Dallas Cowboys’ stadium. AT&T Stadium. That’s huge for us. It’s also where we go to recruit students. We get a high number, high level, a high quality students. It’s our second largest alumni body outside the state of Arkansas. There are many many reasons why it’s a big positive for Arkansas.

I think we’re very fortunate to have the long term contract down there because it does allow us to do so many things. So much presence for Arkansas in the state of Texas.

Bo Mattingly: We talked about how big the TCU win was. What’s the importance of this game. What does it do if you win the game? What kind of impact is it beating a Top 10 team in that stadium?

Jeff Long: The focus on Top 10, I get it. To me, it’s just beating an SEC team on a neutral site. Again, huge for us. Huge for the conference rights, but also in the eyes of the college football playoff eventually. When we, hopefully, we’ll get to that point where that’ll matter. Playing that game in a true, neutral site, is a even bigger bonus for us.

Bo Mattingly: Where are you on replacing the Michigan game? What happened there? Did they just call you and be like, “Hey, we’re out.

Jeff Long: We had heard some rumors that they might have something going. Kept waiting to hear from them. Heard from a number of other people first. Finally heard from them. Their deal was already done with Notre Dame by the time they let us know and just informed us that they were going to buy out of the contract, which they have a contractual right to do, but it does leave us in a bind. Struggling is a kind word to say. We’re struggling to fill that opening.

Bo Mattingly: As an athletic director, you’ve been approached about other jobs. Did you get a call on the Florida job?

Jeff Long: I’m not sure why people continue to ask me. The last guy had the job for 50 years. Why do you guys think I’m ready to run out of town?

Bo Mattingly: I didn’t ask if you were leaving, I asked you if they called you. Tom, check the phone records.

Jeff Long: We’ll say it for fans because you already know my answer: I don’t comment on searches of other institutions. That wouldn’t be appropriate.

Bo Mattingly: Why have you decided to stay at Arkansas when you could get interest from others? You could seek interest from others. But you’ve, you’re going on your ninth year here. Some people thought you sold your home and maybe you were leaving.

Jeff Long: Seriously, you all know. Some of you have lived here your whole life. Those who’ve been out to other places, this is a very very special place. Northwest Arkansas. University of Arkansas. The natural beauty. The friendliness of the people. It’s a great place. Plus, you know, I think we build our athletic program into one that can compete against anybody.

I’ve said before too, and I hope people don’t take this the wrong way, we are from a small state. We don’t have all the advantages of some of the larger schools or the more populated schools. We don’t have the alumni base. I’m not well with me. I’d respond better as an underdog than I do as the favorite. I’ve always thought of myself as a fighter. I want to fight with Arkansas to win on the highest level. That can be football, basketball, all of our sports.

Bo Mattingly: … Does it feel better [to] win in Arkansas than in some other places?

Jeff Long: I think it does. I know for personally, it does me. When we beat Alabama or we beat LSU, we beat Ohio State. These other schools that maybe have more resources or more things going for them in some respects, yeah, it means more to me. Like I said, I’m always felt like I was an underdog. Again, I got to be careful how I say that. I think we built a program that is not really an underdog to very many people, but the fact that we’re in a state than less than 3 million people, and our University has just recently grown to 27,000 [students], we don’t have that huge alumni base to draw from. But we’re growing and we’re getting better.

On one hand, I’m really proud that we built a program that I think can stand toe to toe and compete against the perceived big boys, but there’s still a little chip on our shoulders that we want to get it done. When we do get it done at Arkansas, doing it the right way, it’s a little more special.

Interviewer: Do you ever feel like people aren’t doing it the right way? Does it bug you?

Jeff Long: Absolutely does. Absolutely it bothers me. Yeah.

Interviewer:  What do you tell your staff? What do you tell your coaches when they come up and they go, ‘Hey, so and so school doing this. Look at the success’?

Jeff Long: Turn them in. I’m a big believer, if you’ve got information on people cheating let’s not just talking about it. Of course, there are always rumors. Anybody who has a great recruiting year, they “cheated,” right? So I don’t mean that stuff, that’s coffee talk.

But if you’ve got something on someone doing something inappropriate, I want to know. I’m gonna share it and we’re gonna hopefully get it stopped at that institution…

 

The above excerpt has been lightly edited for clarity 

07 Sep

The Razorback Football Travel Coordinator’s Hilarious Annotation

Bielema big guy
This photo almost says it all.

Tanya Webb, a University of Arkansas travel coordinator, appears to get along well with the school’s head football coach. She notes that when it comes to seating, former lineman Bret Bielema needs his space for good reason.

Ample proof is provided through her comment at the bottom of this travel reimbursement claim Bielema and former offensive line coach Sam Pittman made to the university. It appears they might have been on a Hawaii recruiting trip relating to Reeve Koehler, a former 3-star lineman who did sign with the Hogs.

Hawaii 1

This scanned receipt is probably the funniest thing I saw in a 121 compilation of Bret Bielema-related expense claims provided to me by the UA. I did this in collaboration with Vice.com, which has an upcoming series looking at college coach expenses across the nation. The editor of that series told me the UA, which only took less than a week to reply, provided one of the quickest responses of any of the programs to which he made FOIA requests.

He also appreciated the UA, unlike other schools, didn’t try to nickel and dime us for ridiculous scanning costs. They simply provided what was requested without fuss.

Read my upcoming AMPPOB.com piece for a deeper (as in stomach-deep) look at some of the more interesting charges Bielema has made while working on the UA’s behalf.

Here’s a scanned receipt dump of some of the expenses I discuss on the new Arkansas Money & Politics website. Click on the image second to the top below to see details of a $2,343.35 charge made during the Arkansas-Texas A&M game in 2014.

Jerry's World 2 Jerry's World 1 Theo's Incipience Hawaii 2 Ella's $105.08 Doe's 245.06 Hawaii 3 Theo's Incipience 2

 

24 Jul

Oldest Arkansas Razorback Jersey Known to Man

vintage hogs

An Arkansas baseball uniform dating back to William Taft’s presidency

 

Today, precious, precious few Arkansas Razorback artifacts older than 100 years old are publicly viewable.  College sports simply weren’t that popular in Edwardian Era Arkansas. It didn’t catch on here like it did in more densely populated metro areas in the northeast, where folks had more expendable income and time to travel and see the likes of Yale and Harvard clash.

So, exactly how unpopular were UA sports?

“We had no bleachers. If you had 50 people to look at you, you felt fortunate,” Will F. Thomas said* of his time as Arkansas’ quarterback in 1901. “They’d pay 25 cents for a tag, which served as a ticket. If they could sell enough tags, they drove stakes and put up rope, and sent marshals out to keep the crowd back. Most of the students didn’t care much about football then, and people downtown didn’t show much in it, either.”

Given these dark ages, you can imagine my surprise when I recently came across a Razorback jersey which the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame claims is 106 years old. The museum usually can’t verify the age of its donated artifacts, but no question this uniform looks legit old.

vintage hogs

Its owner, Boyd Cypert, played third base while also quarterbacking the football squad. Cypert later graduated from Harvard Law School, played for a brief spell in Major League Baseball with the Cleveland Naps, practiced law in Little Rock, got caught up in some creationism/evolution controversy and served as the business manager for the UA’s athletic department.

Besides this Razorback jersey of outrageous yore, I found other awesome memorabilia on my recent visit to the  Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, on the ground floor of Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. To wit:

A Veritable Shrine to Clyde Scott

All-everything back Clyde Scott might have been the most impressive dual-sport athlete to ever play for the UA football program. He set a UA record in the 100 meters (9.4 sec) and won a silver medal in the 110-yard hurdles in the 1948 Olympics — in the middle of his college career.

clyde scott

 

He did a lot of impressive things on the football field, too. Former UA athletic director John Barnhill said: “Clyde Scott meant more to the Arkansas program than any other athlete. His coming to Arkansas convinced other Arkansas boys they should stay home.”

His #12 is only one of two Razorback jersey numbers retired.

Apparently, the cleats below were worn by Scott during his four NFL seasons with Philadelphia and Detroit.

clyde scott NFL

Here’s a fun little anagram collage — a kind of 1940s equivalent to the heavily Photoshopped tribute images modern college football programs blast out to pump uptheir stars up for postseason awards.

clyde scott arkansas

 

Lance Alworth’s Razorback jersey

lance alworth

Lance Alworth ranks alongside Scott as one of the program’s most electric players pre integration. This future pro and college Hall of Famer, who become known as “Bambi,” led all colleges in punt return yardage in 1960 and 1961. Like Scott, he starred in track, running the 100 and 200-yard dashes (in 9.6 seconds and 21.2 seconds). He also long jumped. 

This is the jersey from his last game — a 10-3 loss to undefeated national champion Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

 

1965 Media Guide

arkansas football national champions

This is obviously one of a kind, as 1964 is the only season to which Arkansas football can lay claim to a national title. What are the chances Arkansas again wins the championship this year? Nowhere near as good as their chances of routing Louisiana Tech in the season opener, according to these college football lines.

 

Football used during the “Great Shootout” of 1969

frank broyles

Terri Johnson, director of Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, told me this football was taken by an Arkansan ball boy right after the No. 2 Arkansas lost to No. 1 Texas in an epic showdown in Fayetteville. That teen and his children played with the ball throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He did, however, get Frank Broyles to sign it at a speech.

You’ll notice Broyles also scribbled “Go Hogs Go” onto the leather.

Later, the man tracked down Texas’ legendary head coach Darrell Royal and got him to sign it as well. Royal obliged and told him it’s the only thing he ever signed with a “Go Hogs Go” on it, Johnson recalled with a chuckle.

The man, whose name I didn’t request, recently donated the ball to the museum.

***

*This quote is attributed to an article in an unspecified newspaper in 1974. The quote is on an Arkansas Sports HOF banner.

22 Jun

David Pryor Rails Against Taxation of College Football Premium Seating

David Pryor

The below article, originally published in the 1986 by The NCAA News, provides some good background on former U.S. Senator David Pryor’s role in laying the groundwork for the charity status involving much of major college football. I write more in-depth about the issue, and its relevance to the recent expansion plans of Reynolds Razorback Stadium, in an upcoming Fox Sports Arkansas article. 

 

A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. David Pryor, Arkansas Democrat, that calls for full tax deductions on contributions to athletics scholarship programs and the revoking of previous IRS rulings to the contrary.

Sen. Pryor submitted the legislation last month, calling for the application of the 1RS Code of 1954, allowing full tax exemptions for such donations and the repeal of an IRS ruling modifying the exemption.

In 1984, the IRS issued a ruling that essentially revoked prior IRS determinations that such contributions were tax-deductible. The ruling held that if the donor received the right to purchase season tickets (other than as a member of the general public), there was no gift involved.

Under well-established tax principles, Pryor said, if there is no gift of property to a charity, no charitable contribution results; therefore, no tax deduction is allowed.

The IRS ruling threatened what was estimated at more than $100 million a year in contributions to athletics programs. Because of objections by the NCAA and other organizations and institutions, the IRS withheld the ruling for public hearings.

An administrative hearing was held on the ruling January 7, 1985.

The IRS then issued a revised ruling  (The NCAA News, May 7, 1986).

“While a few minor features have changed, the basic thrust of the most recent announcement is that if the athletics scholarship donor is allowed to purchase season tickets in any way  other than as a member of the general public, no gift is involved,” Pryor
said.

“Therefore, the scholarship donation is not tax-deductible under Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code,” Pryor said in a statement accompanying his bill.

The revised ruling by the IRS says the contributors can take a partial deduction if the college can provide a reasonable estimate of the value of the privilege extended to them.

To estimate the value, the IRS says a college can consider such factors as the level of demand for tickets. But the ruling gives no method as to how this demand itself can be valued.

The New York Times said the clarification “leaves the situation just as
controversial and more cloudy than ever.”

Pryor said, “I remain very concerned over attempts to define what is or is not tax-deductible when a donation is made to any college or university in the country. Many colleges and universities around the country use these scholarship funds to provide much-needed aid to student-athletes.

“All of us want to do all we can to maintain and strengthen our educational system. It seems to me that this latest ruling runs counter to that effort”

Pryor says his bill is “very simple.”

“It repeals Revenue Ruling 86-63 (the IRS revised ruling) and provides that the tax law shall be applied as if it had not been issued.

Pryor is a member of the Senate Finance Committee.

24 Feb

How Paul Rhoads’ Tie to the Richest NFL Cornerback Helps Razorback Recruiting

darrelle revis

When it comes to recruiting the nation’s best cornerbacks, the University of Arkansas doesn’t have a great NFL pedigree to lean on. The program has produced solid NFL corners in the likes of Chris Houston and David Barrett, and a first-round pick in Ahmad Carroll, but it has yet to produce a major star at this position in the pros. In the last eight years especially, the program has had a hard time keeping up with SEC rivals when it comes to talent here.

Expect a change soon.

Today, Arkansas announced the hiring of former Iowa State head Paul Rhoads as its new defensive backs coach. Paul Rhoads has mentored seven future NFL cornerbacks including superstar Darrelle Revis.

The New York Jet is a seven-time all-pro, Super Bowl champion and, most importantly for the purposes of recruiting — the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history. This is clearly noted in the UA’s official press release below because it clearly matters to most of the nation’s top high school cornerbacks and would-be cornerbacks.

They know cornerback has become a premier position in today’s NFL, to the point where some current NFL running backs wished they had switched to defensive back for the sake of job secruity. Revis has made $120 million in his career and is currently in a five-year $70 million contract.

The fact Bret Bielema coached current NFL superstars J.J. Watt and Russell Wilson at Wisconsin paid major dividends for Arkansas by allowing him to pull in elite recruits on the defensive line and at quarterback. Rhoads’ tie to Revis has the same potential for the cornerback position.

 

Bielema Names Paul Rhoads Defensive Backs Coach

 

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema announced on Wednesday the hiring of Paul Rhoads as the program’s defensive backs coach. Rhoads comes to Fayetteville after spending the last 16 years as either a head coach or defensive coordinator at Iowa State, Pittsburgh and Auburn, including the last seven seasons as Iowa State’s head coach.

“Paul has had a long standing reputation as a great teacher and recruiter even prior to his years of experience as a coordinator and head coach,” said Bielema. “He instantly brings years of experience to our defensive staff room and has coached the secondary and defensive backs to the highest levels of success.”

Over his coaching career, Rhoads has been a part of nine bowl games and has mentored six defensive backs that have been selected in the NFL Draft, highlighted by seven-time Pro Bowl selection and 2009 AFC Defensive Player of the Year Darrelle Revis. Revis was the 14th overall pick by the New York Jets in 2007 after playing for coach Rhoads when he was the defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the Arkansas program and can’t wait to help build on the success coach Bielema and the staff have already experienced in three years,” said Rhoads. “Not only does coach Bielema have a track record of building winning programs but also developing young men of great character. Both are things I’m excited to be part of.”

In his seven seasons at Iowa State, Rhoads led the Cyclones to three bowl game appearances. He recorded four wins over ranked opponents, including three on the road – half of the school’s all-time road victories over ranked teams.

Taking over a program that had gone a combined 8-27 the previous three seasons, Rhoads’ success in his first season at Iowa State was underscored by his place as the first Cyclone football coach to win seven games in his initial campaign since 1907 and the first ISU coach since 1931 to post a winning record in his initial season. His first season as head coach was highlighted by the program’s first win at Nebraska in 32 years and a victory over Minnesota in the Insight Bowl.

In addition, the Cyclones registered six Big 12 road victories under Rhoads. Prior to his arrival, the Cyclones had won just nine conference road games in the previous 17 seasons. Under Rhoads’ direction, four linebackers garnered All-Big 12 first team honors, while two also received All-America accolades.

A native of Ankeny, Iowa, Rhoads is no stranger to the SEC. Prior to returning to Iowa State, he spent the 2008 season as the defensive coordinator at Auburn under former head coach Tommy Tuberville, where his defense ranked 18th nationally in scoring, allowing 18.0 points per game and 178.8 yards passing to rank 22nd nationally.

From 2000-07, Paul Rhoads served as defense coordinator at Pittsburgh for eight seasons. Five of his defenses ranked in the nation’s top 30 for scoring and three in the NCAA’s top 12 for fewest yards allowed. Additionally, 14 of his Panther defenders earned All-Big East first team acclaim. In 2006, The Sporting News named him the Big East’s best defensive coordinator. His 2004 defense ranked ninth nationally with 17 interceptions and four defensive touchdowns, helping propel the Panthers to a Big East Conference championship and an appearance in the 2005 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Rhoads had five players selected to NFL drafts, including Revis (2007, Jets), Bernard “Josh” Lay (2006, New Orleans Saints), Shawntae Spencer (2004, San Francisco 49ers), Torrie Cox (2003, Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Ramon Walker (2002, Houston Texans).

Under Paul Rhoads’ guidance, Revis was a two-time All-American, two-time All-Big East selection and a 2006 Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist. Revis has spent a majority of his career with Jets while also spending one season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and one with the New England Patriots. In 2014, Revis helped the Patriots win Super Bowl XLIX before returning to the Jets in 2015 as the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history with a five-year $70 million contract. Revis has made over $125 million in his career.

During Rhoads’ first stint at Iowa state (1995-1999), he served as the secondary coach his last four years after coaching the inside linebackers in 1995. He also assisted with the Cyclones’ special teams.

Prior to Iowa State, Rhoads spent three years at Pacific (1992-94). In his first three seasons he served as the defensive backs coach. The Tigers’ defense ranked 20th nationally, allowing just 152 yards passing per game in 1993. In his final season, Rhoads coordinated the Tigers’ pass defense.

Rhoads began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ohio State (1991) and Utah State (1989-90), working with the secondary at both schools.

A three-year letterwinner as a defensive back at Missouri Western, Rhoads earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1988. He and his wife Vickie have two sons, Jake and Wyatt.

Coaching Experience
2016-Pres., Arkansas (DB)
2009-15, Iowa State (HC)
2008, Auburn (DC)
2000-07, Pittsburgh (DC)
1995-99, Iowa State, (Assistant Coach)
1994, Pacific (Pass Game Coordinator)
1992-93, Pacific (Assistant Coach)
1991, Ohio State (GA)
1989-90, Utah State (GA)


 

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04 Feb

What Can We Expect From Alex Collins in the NFL?

As many expected, Alex Collins has declared himself eligible for the 2016 NFL Draft and the running back will not be returning to the Arkansas Razorbacks next season. Collins is a top talent and plenty of scouts are suggesting that he may even be taken in second or third round – potentially just after Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry.

In 2015, Collins rushed for an stellar 1,577 yards which included a 185 yard game against Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl on January 2nd. During the year, he also scored 20 touchdowns – which is a school-record. In fact, Collins broke a number of Razorbacks records during his time in Arkansas and his exceptional year saw him become the second all-time career leading rusher for the school.

As of early February, it’s hard to see Collins slipping out of the second round – he’s simply too good to drop. There are plenty of decent NFL franchises who need a solid running back and Collins could be the man for them. In the build-up to April’s draft, you can keep up with all of the latest news and information via Coral’s website.

Ultimately, Collins’ main appeal is his ability to hit gaps in the defensive line. According to various scout reports, Collins is expected a run a 4.5 in the forty-yard dash, a result that would see him ranked as one of the quickest running backs up for selection. Crucially, he’s fresh too. During his college career, he had less than 700 touches but still ranked up an impressive yardage figure – which will appeal to many of the NFL’s top franchises.

While 700 touches isn’t necessarily a low figure, he remains relatively fresh due to the all the time he split with co-star Jonathan Williams his first two season. His number of carries rose in his final college season, but not to the extent of the other top tailback prospects. While the likes of Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry had 289 and 395 carries last season, Collins had just 271. Even Devontae Brooker, who tore his meniscus earlier in the campaign, had 268 carries in just ten regular season fixtures. That saved mileage makes him a more attractive prospect at a position where the average NFL lifespan is just over three years.

At 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds, Collins is the ideal size for an NFL running back. He’s never going to be a power back like David Johnson or Marshawn Lynch but Collins’ agility and ability to make plays stand him above the rest of the draft. While he wouldn’t suit a ‘ground and pound’ franchise such as the New York Jets, he would fit perfectly into a franchise with an aggressive offensive co-ordinator, especially if he could walk straight into a starting role.

While Collins will have little say in his final location, new customers at Coral have plenty of options for betting on the NFL – including free bets and price boosts. After that, they can offer you great odds on both college football and the NFL but also breaking news in the sporting world. Collins has been linked with both the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see either franchise move for him early in the draft.

Comparably, Collins boasts many of the same traits as legendary Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith. Smith is one of the greatest backs in NFL history and is the only running back to win the Super Bowl, MVP award, NFL rushing crown and Super Bowl MVP in the same season – a phenomenal achievement. While it would be foolish to suggest Collins could emulate this performance, he is certainly a similar mould and could shine on the big stage.

Furthermore, both Collins and Smith both to an SEC school – which has only helped fuel comparisons between the two players. If Collins manages to achieve even half of Smith’s accomplishments, he will be on for a brilliant career and could lead his franchise to Super Bowl victory in the future.

However, who knows what to expect in the draft? It’s almost impossible to predict how things are going to pan out – especially if there are trades at the top of the order. If nothing else, one thing’s for sure: Alex Collins is a real talent and one of the 32 NFL franchises are going to get an incredible deal if he slips out of the top couple of rounds.

17 Jan

Bret Bielema on Why Austin Allen Projects as the 2016 Season Starter

Austin Allen

Today, Arkansas head coach spent nearly 30 minutes discussing the state of the Hogs football program. In the below transcription, he talks about the health of running back Rawleigh Williams and the depth chart order the four quarterbacks.

He also urges new offensive lineman coach Kurt Anderson, a Chicagoan, to start rocking cowboys boots for the sake of Texan recruiting.

Bielema on the the Liberty Bowl aftermath: 

After the game we had a list of guys that needed to have medical follow up. Some guys who needed some random things that needed to get taken care of. We had a number of guys get into that. I’ll probably wait until we get back in school session because I haven’t been able to see those guys face to face yet to further comment on that. Nothing too serious, just some guys having follow up with the doctors.

I was able to hire an o-line coach. I know he’s coming in here to interview afterwards. I think Kurt is a very vibrant personality. He’s a guy that I had learned about during the recruiting process. He was actually the No. 2 rated linebacker coming out of high school, behind LaVar Arrington. Seems if he finished his career as a center he could tell which way those careers went and he’ll be the first to admit it. A very talented, valued asset to everybody that he had work with and who had been around. Dan, being a Michigan State guy, and when we first started talking about Kurt, and Kurt’s a Michigan guy, sometimes those things don’t mix together – but they had a lot of commonalities…

People just raved about what he was able to do… I thought it was interesting this year when he obviously filled in as the o-line coach because their coach had been suspended for the first seven games and they [the Bills] had led the NFL in rushing. Just a lot of positives around him. Been a great asset just in the first few days of recruiting as well. He brought a lot to the table. I think a very dynamic recruiter that can help us not only with o-line men but in other positions as well. Very excited about him.

Obviously, some other news to have the 3 guys declare for the NFL. I wish them the best of luck. Hunter [Henry], we had an extensive talk with him and his parents before the bowl game. I knew his rating when it came back was kind of low. We had envisioned and I think he has a very, very good chance of being the first tight end selected in the draft. An incredible career, an incredible impact on our program. I think back to he was my first recruiting call. I think that was one well spent. Right after of our media teleconference that first day I was announced.

Soon after that, I had been recruiting Alex Collins during my time at Wisconsin and then to come here and to have his career finish the way it did on that run, just is one that I’ll always remember. I think it was a very difficult decision for him as well. I sat down with a lot of his family and people. I think he was very, very torn, but his grade came out as a favorable grade to come out and prove his worth as well. I’m very, very excited for Alex and his next chapter.

Denver informed me via text that was sent to me on Wednesday. He told me on Monday he was going in the direction to make that next step. I wish him the best of luck as well as he moves forward.

Those are all 3 guys part of that first recruiting class. One that we hadn’t played a game yet and to have 3 guys that possibly could be the top in their respective positions in their respective grades, I think that’s a very, very good likelihood of them being that in that grade. I remember that class wasn’t all that highly regarded in the SEC, but had a national ranking I think was in the top third, I think somewhere in the 30s, somewhere in there. It’s not what you have when you walk in, it’s what you have when you walk out. I think those guys proved their worth.

We’ll start an 8-week conditioning in 2 weeks with Ben Herbert and the guys that we currently have. I thought it was very important for us to get a full 8 weeks. I think we have 2 types of rosters that are coming back. We have a group that is very experienced — very, very developed, very, very in-tuned to what we do, and then we have this next group that’s kind of going to have to fill in big ways that need a lot of work. We’re going to adapt our program a little bit than we have in the past. It’s something I’ve routinely done going into my 11th year as a head coach. Just trying to fit your roster a little bit better. I’m excited to work with Herb. We’ll do some things a little bit different than we’ve done in the past. Kind of lay that out as they go forward.

Then we’ll do all of our Spring practices post Spring break. Which we’ve normally gotten a week in before here before we left for Spring Break, but all of ours will come after Spring Break, with the Spring game coming on April 23. Our Pro Day is on March 9. That’ll be a big one. We got a lot of really, really talented players in large numbers, so I expect to get a good crowd for that (No doubt they’ll be looking to get the first taste of a high anticipated 2016 season, one in which Arkansas has been pegged with 50-to-1 odds of winning the national title).

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Q: Has Kody Walker indicated he’s coming back for a 6th season?

Bret Bielema: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yep, Yep. Kody, I found out he had a 6th year and I waited until the right moment to tell him and when I told him he had a 6th year, he had about a biggest smile as you’ve ever seen. I don’t think there ever was any doubt that that was something he was going to look forward to.

Q: Is there anybody that’s indicated they want a transfer out of the program?

Bret Bielema: Other than the ones we already knew about?

Q: Yeah, anybody since the bowl?

Bret Bielema: No. I don’t think so. I tell you what, I can’t confirm 100%, but I’m 99 percentile that Randy Ramsey will be with us in the Spring as a walk on player, a non-scholarship player. He asked if he could return and pay for his own way. I thought that was a good way to express his desire to be a part of what we’re doing as to pay his own way out of state. I think he’ll be with us in the Spring and see what he can prove. We, obviously, had a couple of mid-year enrollees that will be with us as well, but nobody leaving the program.

Q: How much extra work did Austin Allen get during the bowl practices and how about any of those other [backup] quarterbacks?

Bret Bielema: Yeah, I think we got in 16 practices and I believe 5 of those were developmental only, so a lot of really good, quality work for those guys. There was actually 2 practices that we didn’t let Austin practice. It was just those other 3 quarterbacks. Austin got in a lot of really good valuable work as the No. 1 guy when his brother wasn’t, when BA wasn’t even on the field. Then there were a number of practices where those next 3 quarterbacks got a lot of work without Austin being there as well.

We always talk about in the Spring there are No. 1’s. You got to have somebody go out and we’ll call the 1’s. It’s a coach’s perspective, but if that first group ran on the field, it’d definitely be Austin [Allen]. If the second group ran after, it’d be Rafe [Peavey]. If the third group ran out there, it’d Ty [Storey] and then Ricky [Town] just based on really time in the program. Now what they do with it this Spring is going to add a lot of influence on how fast certain people can move up or down the depth chart.

Q: Have you talked to Rawleigh [Williams III]?

Bret Bielema: Yeah. I just texted him yesterday. Rawleigh reached out to me on my birthday and wished me a happy birthday. Polite child. I said, “How are you feeling? How’s things in Dallas?” He said “Feel great, Coach. 100% ready to go.” I do know that we’re doing a couple extra things with him medically just to appease not only us but him, mom, as we should. I don’t think he’ll do anything with us this spring other than go through maybe drills, non-contact, or anything like that. But before we step on that field as a contact player, we’re going to make sure everything’s clear.

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05 Jan

Dan Enos’ Michigan State Teams Completed a Helluva Threepeat

The 2015 Arkansas Razorbacks have a chance to become one of the few teams in college football history to win only two or fewer games in their first six games and yet finish the season ranked. Below are the teams which have accomplished this kind of specific mid-season turnaround, according to a database query by sports-reference.com.

Notice that heading into the 2015 season Michigan State was the only program to pull it off in consecutive seasons. It should be added that in 1988 the team was a season-ending bowl game win away from also completing this same exact turnaround.  All the same, all three teams still completed the ole’-win-two-or-fewer-in-the-first-six-but-win-six-or-more-in-the-last-seven trick.

Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos was a Michigan State quarterback throughout this entire three-peat. I write more about the connection, with insight from his Spartan head coach and teammate, in an upcoming piece for OnlyInArk.com.

+—————————+-——–+——+——–+—–-+——+

| school                           | year       | wins | losses | ties | final rank |
+—————————+-——–+——+——–+—–-+——+
| texas-christian           |    1937 |    1 |      3 |    2 |   16 |
| holy-cross                    |    1942 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   19 |
| stanford                        |    1942 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   12 |
| duke                               |    1944 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   11 |
| saint-marys-ca-pre-flight |    1944 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   19 |
| rice                                  |    1947 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   18 |
| michigan                      |    1950 |    2 |      3 |    1 |    9 |
| navy                               |    1950 |    1 |      5 |    0 |   19 |
| purdue                          |    1951 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   14 |
| kentucky                      |    1952 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   20 |
| alabama                       |    1953 |    2 |      1 |    3 |   13 |
| rice                                  |    1955 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   18 |
| stanford                        |    1955 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   16 |
| iowa                                |    1955 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   19 |
| florida                            |    1958 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   14 |
| purdue                           |    1960 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   19 |
| illinois                            |    1962 |    1 |      5 |    0 |   18 |
| penn-state                   |    1964 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   14 |
| southern-california   |    1971 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   20 |
| florida                             |    1973 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   19 |
| michigan-state            |    1974 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   12 |
| tennessee                      |    1974 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   20 |
| ucla                                  |    1983 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   17 |
| michigan-state            |    1989 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   16 |
| michigan-state            |    1990 |    2 |      3 |    1 |   16 |
| syracuse                           |    1990 |    2 |      2 |    2 |   21 |
| vanderbilt                        |    2012 |    2 |      4 |    0 |   23 |
+—————————+-——–+——+——–+—–-+——+