Predictions for 2020: Joe Johnson mania sweeps Japan, Malzahn becomes Hogfather

Year-end lists this time of year are a dime a dozen.
So, to shake things up, I’ve imagined delving into the future to find some of the most provocative stories of the year 2020, and I examined what 2011 events led to them.
In brief, I found what in nine years will turn out to be the biggest stories of 2011.
Never underestimate an LR Central graduate.
1. In 2011, NBA star Joe Johnson spent his prolonged off season establishing the foundation for a career in Hollywood. The Little Rock native, who was typically reserved while playing at Central High and the University of Arkansas, shares a somewhat surprising revelation he wants to act after retirement. That summer, he is seen at the downtown Little Rock piano bar Willy D’s, rocking a fist-sized diamond watch while singing a rendition of Jodeci’s “Come and Talk to Me.”
Johnson’s public embrace of excess doesn’t end there. A little later, he opens his LR pad’s 500-square-foot closet to ESPN The Magazine. Glistening on its shelves are 436 pairs of Nike sneakers, mostly Air Jordans.
  In 2020 … a retired Joe Johnson, who had been attacking acting classes with the same diligence as he’d applied to basketball, gets his first TV show gig as the head judge on BET’s “Kicks ‘n Karaoke.” The show combines the 38-year-old’s two non-sports loves in a competition format, and Johnson soon establishes himself as the Simon Cowell of the emerging genre.
“Kicks ‘n Karaoke” makes the six-time NBA All-Star more popular than Elvis Presley in Japan.

2. In 2011, Arkansas State University hired Gus Malzahn as its head football coach. Malzahn, an Arkansas native, had been an offensive coordinator at Arkansas and for Auburn’s 2010 national championship team.

In 2020 … After a dozen years as the state’s most popular public figure, Bobby Petrino retires as Razorbacks head coach. The Hogs had beaten Oklahoma State to win its long-awaited second national championship in 2016, the first year of a playoffs involving four superconferences. In 2017, Arkansas returned to the title game, losing to Alabama.

But in following years, the Hogs’ success tails off and Petrino appears increasingly stressed. The breaking point comes on his weekly coach’s show at a Fayetteville catfish joint, where cameras catch him mumbling obscenities into his tartar sauce for no apparent reason.

The next day, citing a need to “simply unwind” and “spend some quality time on the lake” with the grandchildren, he retires.

UA athletic director Jeff Long hires Malzahn, who in the span of nine years had built Arkansas State, then Tennessee, into perennial Top-25 programs.

   More predictions, including a budding football rivalry between UALR-Benton and UALR-Bryant, here.
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