Doc Harper: Airing of Grievances 2013


happy festivus airing of the grievances

Doc Harper Bio PageHappy Festivus!

As per tradition, we begin Festivus with the Airing of Grievances.  Here are some of mine.

There are plenty you can probably guess because we’ve rehashed them all year, so I’ll just mention them briefly for posterity’s sake: fake punts, onside kicks, halfback passes, personal foul penalties on kickoff touchbacks, the basketball team on the road, the South Carolina game (both football and basketball), the deterioration of BJ Young and Mardracus Wade’s jump shot, the wild pitch on an intentional walk in the College World Series, the AJ Derby experiment, any reference to Jon Gruden’s tie (but not the Powerhouse jokes – those are still wonderful), the UA vs ASU bill in the Arkansas legislature, most of the things said in the Great Stadium Debate, business decisions, complaining about having to get up early to get on the bus to get to the game, desperate tweeting to no one in particular because of recruiting rules but everybody knows what’s going on, and Hogville.


I never want to see a near-perfect scrimmage performance from an Arkansas quarterback ever again. Ever.  In the one open scrimmage during fall camp, Brandon Allen was 16/17 for over 200 yards. It was great. It was exciting. It filled everyone with hope. Then the season started and that never came close to happening. Of course, I understand he hurt his shoulder in the Southern Mississippi game, but the Samford game the week before wasn’t so great either.

And this isn’t just a Brandon Allen thing. Razorback fans went through similar pattern the year before with Tyler Wilson.

I’m done with the practice hype. Apparently, it’s a good thing for the defense to provide a reasonable challenge for the offense. Otherwise it’s like playing an old fighting game like Street Fighter and you secretly pull the other controller out of the console so the other guy can’t do anything and you just pound him mercilessly.

In other words, if there’s no pass defense in practice, that could be a bad sign for the defense instead of “what a great passing performance!” Just a guess.


People, we’ve got to get to the point where Auburn wins a game or Arkansas loses a game and we can get through the day without waxing poetic about how the Razorbacks didn’t hire Gus Malzahn. This is a necessity.  Christmas is commercialized, Nirvana is old enough to be inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, and Gus Malzahn is not, and odds are will never be, the head coach at Arkansas. Some things you’ve just got to deal with.

And really, when it comes to how he’d do as the coach at Arkansas, I don’t care about him growing up in the state, his high school records, or his high school connections. Do. Not. Care. Pretty much every coach of a BCS conference school, including Bret Bielema, has an impressive resume. And any Razorback coach worth a sooie will be able to get the majority of in-state prospects he wants, and no coach will ever get all of them.  Really, Arkansas should want a coach whose strongest connections are out of state because that’s where the majority of Arkansas recruits will always come from.

I feel like I should also point out, as someone who ran one of those coaching search hot boards last year and read through comments and message board threads and discussed it on twitter, it’s not like there was any outpouring of support for Malzahn’s candidacy last year. It was very small and very quiet. Reading comments now you’d think there was this massive “Free Phil Robertson!” type of movement leading up to the hire, but there was none.

Besides, as polarizing a figure as he is in Arkansas, can you imagine the outrage if he’d gone 3-9 or even 6-6?  It would make any screaming we’ve seen this year look like a wistful Jimmy Buffet song.


That Ed Orgeron of all people proved, despite what Arkansas’ interim staff said during the offseason, it is possible to be an effective leader even if long term employment is doubtful.

By the way, those two new coaches with the vital benefit of supposed secure, long-term employment: Paul Haynes went 4-8 at Kent State, Paul Petrino went 1-11 at Idaho, and John L. Smith went 4-7 at Fort Lewis something or other.


The whole debate about who should be on the Playoff Selection Committee was nonsense. The thing people should be upset about is that there is no set standard for determining the selected teams. There’s a big difference between “best” team and “most deserving” team. For instance, this year’s Auburn team is certainly deserving to go to Pasadena. But are they truly one of the two best teams? You’ll never convince me. I just don’t think the best team in college football should have to rely on multiple deus ex machina finishes.

I’m not suggesting the playoff has to have some sort of scientific formula, but if it’s just up to whatever criteria the committee members want to use, I don’t see why the committee is any better way to pick four teams than the polls or the BCS system.


It was hilarious that many people scoffed at Nick Saban’s new $7+ million salary as being too extravagant for college football. Please. This is the sport in which colleges build giant stadiums for hundreds of millions of dollars that fill up maybe eight times a year. Within five years, there will be a coach making $10 million a year. It wasn’t too long ago that $3 millions seemed crazy for a coach. It’s not slowing down. We can complain about Jeff Long’s bottom-line oriented decisions all we want, but it’s vital for Arkansas to continue making as much money as possible if the program wants to be taken seriously. There will come a time in the future when the Razorbacks need to spend heavily to either retain or hire a coach. It’s hard to imagine Arkansas ever having another football coach making less than Bielema’s $3.2 million salary.

By the way, people of the world, BIELEMA DOES NOT MAKE $5 MILLION. Let’s all say it together slowly. Why this continues to be a national talking point whenever coach’s salaries are discussed is beyond me. I don’t know why USA Today chose to include the buyout Arkansas paid Wisconsin in Bielema’s earnings, but it was foolish, and it’s caused national reporters to mistake his salary and make Bielema a poster-boy of a coach not living up to his contract, which is completely unfair.


Also, these didn’t happen today, but a shoutout to The Wife for her Feat of Strength in delivering our little girl and Festivus Miracle, Corliss McFadden Harper back on December 8th.

Sincere thank you to everyone for the thoughts, prayers, comments, and anything else. Everybody is healthy, happy, and sleepy.

And one more grievance: hey, city of Fayetteville, how about clearing the ice off the roads leading into the hospital as soon as possible after an ice storm? Do we really need to wait until the next business day? It seems like that should be a more urgent priority, but maybe it’s just me.


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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