Looks Like Razorback Coach Claps Back at DJ Williams’ Get-Off-My-Lawn Moment

Bobby Petrino, DJ Williams, Arkansas football
photo credit: Craven Whitlow / Facebook/DJ Williams

Is Arkansas football legend DJ Williams having a get-off-my-lawn moment, or is he on to something? Answer: Yes.

Recently, the former star tight end reacted to a Hogs+ video showing several offensive linemen yukking it up with Boise State transfer quarterback Taylen Green after practice. All of this occurred, presumably, out of eyesight or earshot of former head coach and now offensive coordinator, the fabled Bobby Petrino.

Williams pretty hilariously wants to like the upbeat attitude and enthusiasm shown by these Razorbacks, but in the end, just can’t help himself: he can’t stand it. As he sees it, hamming it up the cameras is more in line with the kind of vibe that goes down during a bowl week – a time of reaping the reward for an entire year’s hard work.

But doing this kind of thing in spring practice, in what’s supposed to be the crucible for the season to come, is equivalent to scarfing down a triple concrete mixer from Andy’s before eating your baked chicken and veggies. These guys shouldn’t have nearly enough energy left to ham it up for the cameras.

Back in his day, under Petrino in 2008 through 2010, he recalls things getting real.

“I remember after practice we had about 12 dudes in the training room hooked up to IV, full body cramps,” Williams says in the below video. “I ain’t never seen anything like it… I couldn’t even talk after practice. Nobody could. This ain’t even a joke, but we’re still practicing and we moved over a little bit so the ambulance could come on the field and cart off a guy on the field while practice is still going on.”

Bobby Petrino has been famously hard on his players, often having them feeling like they may be walking, or running in this case, on eggshells around him. Few will ever accuse him of being a player’s coach. That’s one approach to coaching and, at least for Petrino, it’s worked most of the time.

It certainly worked for him during his tenure as head Hog. For all the negative fallout that came from falling off his motorcycle (although there’s doubt that’s what actually happened), if he did one thing for the Razorbacks, he showed Razorback Nation that it can reach pretty near to the top of the mountain. Just before the “accident,” the Hogs finished at No. 5 in the final poll of 2011.

Bobby Petrino’s Aura with Arkansas Football

DJ Williams seemed incredulous by the overall tone, and as someone who played for him, he should know. No doubt something has changed in his approach because NOBODY in the history of Bobby Petrino, at least to my knowledge, has ever said, it’s been a “fun process,” or that “we’re having a blast out here everyday” as was caught on the video in question.

Now, I’m not about to suggest that Petrino has somehow seen the light, become a Buddhist, or conscientious objector. But maybe he’s mellowed out a little in his older years and certainly Sam Pittman’s laid-back approach to life, relationships and demeanor probably play at least a little bit of a role.

However, let’s be clear; tigers don’t change their stripes easily just like Russian boars don’t easily stop growing tusks.

Let’s also be clear about something else: The world has changed since Petrino last stormed the Hill. 

For one, the words Name, Image and Likeness had almost never appeared together in the same sentence, much less put some players in a position to make a better living while attending college than most of the coaching staff.

That has empowered some players to believe their hype and the result, in at least some of the cases, has been under-performance. What’s next, college players calling their coaches by their first name like they do in the NFL? Whoops! If you watched the video in question, you heard the players referring to Petrino as – good Lord have mercy – Bobby!

Bobby? Are you kidding me? Bobby?  

“I don’t remember any type of post practice atmosphere when anyone on the field even wanted to say, ‘Bobby, that’s my boy.’ What is happening right now? Why do they seem so happy?,” a bewildered Williams chimes in.

I’ve never met Petrino, but if I ever do, I might refer to him as Mr. Petrino, or at least BMFP, for fear of him making me run gassers until I got my head right.

No doubt, today’s college sports are different because of the whole NIL phenomenon, but it’s also generational. And Generation Z (born between 1995-2012) is soft……at least that’s what grumpy old men think.

I don’t completely buy into this whole concept. After all, the first time I thought about this was when I read This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald when I was in college back in the ‘80s.  There’s a passage in the book that talks about how lazy the younger generation is. Now, keep in mind, the younger generation he was talking about was my grandparents’ generation, which is now commonly referred to as the Greatest Generation.

Eric Mateos, Arkansas’ new offensive line coach, almost certainly doesn’t buy into the idea that goofing off here and there can hurt a team’s ability to get it done on the field. In the below “X” post on Monday, he refers to highly effective offensive line from his time as a GA under Bret Bielema that that led the SEC in fewest sacks allowed while producing a first-team All-American and two Freshman All-Americans.

Two of the Razorbacks below – Dan Skipper and Frank Ragnow – are still in the NFL.

It’s hard to believe Mateos would have just randomly decided to make this point about offensive lines working hard and playing hard if it wasn’t in response to something. We can pretty safely assume that “something” was Williams’ cranky moment.

Still, don’t discount what Williams is saying altogether. It does matter that college athletes these days, in some cases, make more money than I do. That wasn’t the case even 10 years ago when Mateos was a GA. Not only that, but today’s collegians began their athletic careers at a time when “everybody gets a trophy” was heard on ballfields across the country from sea-to-shining-sea.

Switching Gears to Hog Hoops

There’s little doubt that it’s this attitude that probably led to tough love, hard-ass Nick Saban retiring this year when most would agree he probably had another five, eight, maybe even 10 good years left in him. After all, he was the one to call out fellow Tide coach Nate Oats for suggesting that Brandon Miller was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time last year when he delivered a gun to a friend who used it to kill someone.

Apologizing in advance for again switching sports, it may have something to do with Muss not making it to March Madness this year. Earlier this year, a rumor was shared by sportscaster Mike Irwin on his “Ask Mike” show that told the story, without naming names, that Muss called a player in and dressed him down for not playing defense. Reportedly, the player’s response was, “Coach, you can’t talk to me that way.”

I have an idea of Muss’ response being something akin to “Welcome to the end of the bench until further notice.” So many players seemed to disappear this season after performing well that it’s hard to know for sure who the player was. It’s possible that attitude is what kept the training staff constantly pulling splinters out of the posteriors of some of the best Arkansas basketball players riding the pine.

What does it all mean? It means that just like everything else, it may be that the coaches in the future will not only have to be the best at managing the Xs and Os, but the egos of the Jimmys and the Joes.

Those who can adapt to the new world will survive. The ones who can’t may end up selling inland marine or work-stoppage overhead insurance. However, chances are that the angry old men and the kids will just have to meet somewhere in the middle.

My guess is that there are many coaches, and former players for that matter, who won’t like this. But it may be what it takes to win, and nothing has changed about winning being what matters.

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In case you missed it, here’s the infamous object of Williams’ ire:

Here’s more on Arkansas football and Petrino from BoAS:

More coverage of Arkansas football from BoAS… 

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