In Indiana, in sports talk show circles, Kent Sterling is sort of a big deal.
He hosts a sports radio show on CBS Sports 1430 AM, talks about the Hoosiers and has his own website — KentSterling.com — that is based on four topics and principles:
But after one of Sterling’s takes from last year was recently unearthed, perhaps a fifth category should be added: Grade-A Drivel.
Recently, it seems, Arkansas basketball has daily experienced a slight by some media member.
First, it was Seth Davis, then Jay Bilas. In retrospect, those guys were being quaint.
Davis predicted Colgate to beat Arkansas, which was a stretch, while Bilas picked Texas Tech to beat the Hogs in the next game — not a stretch at all given how good the Red Raiders are.
On Sunday afternoon, Vegas insider Todd Fuhrman got into the act, inexplicably attacking Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman’s coaching chops. Even after Arkansas won the game, Fuhrman still foolishly stuck by his guns.
But even Fuhrman didn’t unspool such a expansive litany of stupidities as Sterling did before the 2020-21 season began.
In an article and video commentary, Sterling tried to make the point that Justin Smith, the MVP of Arkansas’ NCAA Tournament run so far, made a mistake by transferring away from Indiana.
He does so with a logic that is breathtaking in its brokenness.
One reason Sterling gave for Justin Smith’s “mistake” was that he thought Arkansas basketball team was essentially doomed without Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones, its stars in the 2019-2020 season. As far as he saw it, if Arkansas couldn’t do better than 7-11 in the SEC with those two stars, then they were destined for mediocrity without Jones and Joe.
Apparently, Sterling didn’t do enough research to find out:
a) Musselman had a stellar freshman class coming in
b) Musselman had an outstanding track record of developing talent
c) He had other top-notch recruits besides Smith arriving as well
Sterling doesn’t stop there.
— W00PIGS000IE (@W00PIGS000IE) March 23, 2021
For some reason, he decides to take it beyond basketball and attack the city of Fayetteville itself:
He laments “the stench of the many chicken farms in the area. It hits like a wave of manure scented tear gas as you get off the plane at the airport just northwest of town, and it never dissipates completely on the drive to campus.”
Laughably, he continues.
Sterling also decides to attack Arkansas based on what he saw at an NWA Walmart once while in town for his son’t basketball tournament: “I hurried to the express lane, where a girthy fellow was offloaded 70-80 cans of cat food from his cart to the register.”
The fact that so many items were allowed on an express lane is, as he sees it, “a problem in a community.”
Sterling doesn’t stop with his moral judgements on Fayetteville in his masterful article entitled “Justin Smith will play at Arkansas – the land of chicken farmers and cat hoarders.”
“This was a town without much in the way of attributes that would demand a soon-to-be college senior to leave a beautiful city like Bloomington.”
In his spoken commentary he asks: “What dream could come true in Fayetteville, Arkansas?”
Turns out, quite a few dreams.
Justin Smith has proven to be a revelation as power forward/center for Arkansas, adding an expanded offensive game and more ball-handling to his already powerful inside play. He could not have chosen a better place to make his final collegiate audition for the NBA.
On top of that, he’s made the Sweet 16 – which is a lot more than what the Indiana basketball program can say.
Really? You’re Gonna Rag on Justin Smith Too?
Sterling tried to play it even-handed when it came to Smith’s decision.
“I just don’t understand Justin Smith leaving, but I’m not mad about it because it’s his life to lead,” he said.
That sounds rational.
“Indiana is not going to be worse basketball team because of the absence of Justin Smith. But are they going to miss him? I don’t think they’re going to miss him. Not from an offensive standpoint.”
And this: “Smith will bring versatility on the defensive and and a wayward shot beyond eight feet.”
“Maybe the rim are wider down in Fayetteville. Who knows?”
No doubt, Justin Smith, Eric Musselman and the city of Fayetteville have had the last laugh as far as Kent Sterling is concerned.
The author of “Oops! the Art of Learning from Mistakes and Adventures” will need to add another chapter about the mistake he’s made with Arkansas basketball.
Why does hating on Arkansas basketball matter?
Simple: Eric Musselman uses this kind of bulletin board talk as motivational fuel for his team.
Similar to what Nolan Richardson used to do with the early to mid 1990s Arkansas basketball teams, when he hammered home an “us-against-the-world” mentality with them.
For instance, Musselman didn’t like it when Seth Davis picked Colgate to win during the CBS selection show. He showed that video clip to his players and poked Davis on Twitter after the win.
Most famously, after the Indiana game, he went right back at Todd Fuhrman, repeatedly asking “who is this guy?”
On Wednesday, on the Jim Rome Show, he went into more depth about it:
“I just felt like it was a little bit disrespectful. I think Coach [Chris] Beard is one of the best coaches in the history of college basketball. I know he’s one of the best coaches, so it had nothing to do with that. It was just the term ‘licking his chops’ and not having respect for the coaching profession.”
“And I’ve worked really hard to gain respect as a coach, and I’ve coached against some really good coaches, whether it be Pat Riley or Phil Jackson.”
“And so I did take offense to it. Maybe my family got me a little fired up about it, but it’s all good. It’s all fun.”
Watch the entire Eric Musselman interview about Arkansas basketball here:
And check out more about the beef with Fuhrman here: