Doc Harper: A New Year’s Resolution Bound To Be Broken – Not Predicting 2014


Predicting 2014

Doc Harper Bio PageYou can argue that off-season predictions are always meaningless. They’re usually somewhat off, but this SEC football season has proved more than ever just how incredibly, drastically wrong they can be.

However, especially when you don’t go to a bowl game the off-season stretches [guitar riff] on and on and on and on. And predicting the next season is a great way to fill some of that time. Everybody wants to know what’s going to happen next fall, as if it’s some thrilling TV series nearing its climax and we’re looking for clues to unlock the puzzle early.

At a certain point, we all want to look forward in hopes the future can bring us something more pleasant than focusing on analyzing the atrocity we’re just grateful to have survived, but this year, predicting 2014 just seems especially pointless – so I’m going to make a resolution not to do it.

I don’t think Arkansas will go 3-9 next year. I didn’t think they would this year. But trying to figure out where those wins come from next season is quite the conundrum. When you’ve gone 0-8 in conference play and are currently on a 12-game SEC losing streak, what games can you look forward to and say, “that’s a game Arkansas should win”?

We can hope the Hogs will be better for several reasons. Generally, young teams improve from season to season from experience and development. We can see that the Arkansas roster is getting filled with more of Bret Bielema’s own players. Everything should be falling into place a little better than it did in 2013. Other than replacing Zach Hocker, there may not be a unit on the team that you shouldn’t expect to be better next year.

As always, we can look to history to try to make sense of these things. Between 2002-2012, seven SEC teams went winless in conference play. Only once did one of those teams go 0-8 the next year (Kentucky in 2012 and again in 2013). So the odds are pretty good Arkansas will find at least one SEC victory somewhere next season. However, only when there’s been a regime change have any of those programs gone better than 1-7 the next fall.

Does that mean Arkansas is destined for a 1-7 SEC season next year? Of course not. It could happen. Might not. But another reason it’s hard to predict is that the SEC will look so dramatically different next year.

As usual, Arkansas plays a tough schedule (when you’re a struggling team, every schedule is tough) featuring Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Missouri, and all those schools are losing their starting quarterbacks after this season (assuming Johnny Manziel also leaves). They’re all going to have somewhat new looks with players with different playmaking abilities than what we’ve seen lately, and we won’t have much of an idea of what they will look like until games actually start.

The same goes for some of Arkansas’ non-conference opponents as well. Jordan Lynch is leaving Northern Illinois, so perhaps they’ll fall back to the role of traditional middling non-AQ school just in time for their trip to Fayetteville (or, worst case scenario, they’ve developed a system to establish themselves as the Boise of the Heartland, as Gus Malzahn might say). Texas Tech is also probably going to have a quarterback battle going on through its off-season as well, now that their Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year is transferring and their bowl starter is a mystery, at least to the public.

Of course, quarterback isn’t the only position that matters, and we can safely assume most of those teams will still field plenty of talented players. It’s just that we’ve also seen bad quarterback play torpedo otherwise good teams, and inconsistency at that position might make it more likely a growing team like Arkansas can surprise somebody.

More than any other year since I’ve been paying close attention, I have a hard time trying to figure out what will happen next season. We’ll have a somewhat clearer picture as we go through National Signing Day, spring practice and fall camp, but there will still be more unanswered questions than normal until games kick off, and that’s really exciting.

So spend the next several months listening to the talking heads, buying the preseason magazines, and reading sites like this one to try and guess what happens next fall, but I’m going to try to stay out of it because I admit, it’s all a guess from me at this point. But I’m sure sometime in the coming months I’ll be put on the spot and give a prediction, so I’m not counting on this resolution to last.

Oh, what the heck. 6-6. But don’t ask me which games.

Will Bret Bielema and the Razorbacks bounce back in 2014? What is your prediction for the regular season?

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Doc Harper is the managing editor of Arkansas Fight and a contributor to Sporting Life Arkansas. You can email him at and follow him on Twitter @doc_harper.


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  • Run it and win

    It’s so dadgum sad what the state of the Razorback football program has become. I’m getting older and am tired of waiting getting close and then “rebuilding” again and again and then again… Mostly rebuilding. But what else do I have to do. I can’t root for another team. I’ve got Razorback red blood through and through. Guess I’ll just have to be sad for a while.

  • nchogg

    I’am also getting older and I get tired of waiting. I have no control what the coaches and players do on the field. I’am a red blooded Hog fan and will support them W or L. I watched every game to the end I could watch on tv or espn3.I do like the direction the team is going. I like the attention to academics and off field behavior. Discipline can build a strong program. Our coaches will get the job done I just hope sooner than later. I’am ready for winning football. Go Hogs!

    • Barry

      Coach ‘fat Boy and Walky hall Suuuuuccccckkkk !

  • hogg

    I hear you guys,seems like we’ve been waiting a very long time for another championship.I too am getting older now and sometimes wonder if I will get a chance to see it happen.we hog fans have been waiting since 1964 for it too happen,might as well have been 1864!I also bleed only hog red blood and watch all razorback games start to finish win or was starting to look very promising a few years back when we were ranked number 3!now it’s like we’ve been sent back to the drawing board once again.I hope coach b can get the team back on track,I just hope it’s sooner rather than later because we won’t live forever.I absolutely do not have a second favourite team,it’s the hogs for me or no one!and sometimes I wonder if the rest of the world knows how proud we are as hog fans and what it means for us to for me there is nothing in this world to hear 70 or 80 thousand fans calling the hogs!and when I die someone please make sure they bury me under the 50 yard line at razorback stadium and I will be happy happy happy!and to close,I can only think of these simple words..Thank you God for making me a razorback!

  • Louie Graves

    How did BB go about finding that QB from NC State who became so great when he moved to Wisc? That’s what we need.

  • hogg

    I think we will see the quarterback we want and need in Mr rafe peavey,just take a look at his highlight films and you,’ll see what I mean.he’s pretty good on his feet also.I just hope coach will let him start in the upcoming year.not to bash Allen but he just don’t seem to have what it takes to win in the very tough we,’ve acquired some good receivers now and should see improvement in the passing game.and if we could somehow land dupree and Solomon Thomas we should be a better team.I heard we now also may be getting Wallace too.I can’t wait too see peavey play and help get the hogs back to what we all want to see as fans.go hogs!never yield!

    • Danny G

      If we (Razorbacks), look to improve next year, an also hope to land top notch players, we need a new quarterback. Our team won’t be much better if the coaching staff is counting on the 1st an 2nd string QB’s we had last year. Seems like it would be hard to convince a reciver to come to Arkansas if either one of those 2 are the quarterback.