I’d been planning to write some sort of fun 2013 predictions column filled with ideas of things highly unlikely to happen but fun to think about, but when I tried to come up with my list, I couldn’t come up with much that was more absurd than what actually happened in 2012.
In fact, what happened this year is pretty much exactly what a group of drunk guys around a poker table would come up with at this point last year.
“Ok guys, my turn. I predict Bobby Petrino will get involved in a sex scandal with a current or recent volleyball player!”
“Oh, and he’ll hire her on the football staff!”
“Alright, I’ll piggyback on this. Let’s see. Everyone will find out about the affair because they’ll crash his motorcycle out on some Ozark highway.”
“Uh huh, and, it will come out that he gave her five, no ten, no twenty thousand dollars for some reason.”
“Then Jeff Long will fire him and hire, uh, who’s that goofy guy from YouTube? Oh, John L. Smith!” You get the drift.
After going through all that, coming up with weird things to happen to Arkansas sports seems excessive at best, cruel at worst.
So my big 2013 prediction is a year of relative normalcy. The law of averages suggests it will happen. It’s hard to imagine Arkansas has done anything so profoundly awful that karmic retribution will continue. Things started to turn around in December, after all.
No head coaching changes. No bankrupt interim coaches. Liz Honey will probably make some more videos but they won’t go viral.
For the Razorback football team, I’m going to stick to my guns by saying bowl eligibility should be considered a successful season in 2013. New head coaches don’t generally start to see significant turn-around until their second or third years, and the Arkansas schedule is brutal. Even the opener against Lousiana-Lafayette won’t be a cakewalk. The Ragin Cajuns are a good team in the Sun Belt, winning the New Orleans Bowl this year with a sophomore quarterback. They’ll test the Razorbacks, who’ll be playing their first game in a new system with new coaches in Fayetteville.
However, the team will improve throughout the year, and that, along with an impressive recruiting class, will give fans reason to be optimistic for the future.
And Bret Bielema will start a trend of people wearing full Razorback track suits. Hog track suits will be the new Arkansas coach’s polo. Hopefully, this will extend to the dress codes of local workplaces.
I continue to hope this Razorback basketball team will make the NCAA tournament. I believe any team that has two players who could potentially play in the NBA next season should be able to make the NCAA tournament. It will be a really good sign if Arkansas can win the SEC opener on the road against Texas A&M on January 9. After that game, Arkansas is looking at a couple of winnable home games against Vanderbilt and Auburn, and a 3-0 start would be huge. The Hogs will need to win some road games to help their strength of schedule make up for the SEC’s disastrous non-conference showing.
Mike Anderson will continue his dominant run as the best dressed coach in the SEC. No one else in the conference can match his seemingly endless assortment of patterns and colors. Pinstripes, ties with matching handkerchiefs, they should rename the Razorback sideline “The Runway.”
Dave Van Horn has the Arkansas baseball program to the point where it’s a disappointment when they don’t reach Omaha. Admittedly, I don’t follow the baseball team as much as football and basketball, but I do know the baseball team is ranked #1 in at least one preseason poll, so I’ll go ahead and predict the team goes to Omaha for the second season in a row. If the team could manage a
incredibly lucky spectacularly courageous comeback over Baylor in the super regionals to get to Omaha last season (basically the only Razorback highlight between February and November in 2012), it should be exciting to think what they could do when they’re the favored team.
In summary, 2013 has to be better than 2012. It simply has to. There are only a few areas where it could be worse. But 2013 won’t be better just because there isn’t anywhere worse to go, but because the program has been designed to be better. The pieces are in place to move forward, and that is what I predict will happen in 2013.