Kane Webb: Notes from the Sports Desk


This, that and lots of the other

A weirder-than-normal sports notes column


So much happening, so little space. Wait. This is the Internet, isn’t it? I can write forever. Let’s recast that. So much happening, so little … um, hmmm. Okay, sometimes a guy’s got places to be.

Let’s get this column started.

* * *

Mysteries of the Sports World

Why do we need to know who the “mike” linebacker is? (“Fifty-two’s the mike! Fifty-two’s the mike!”) I feel sorry for the “will” linebacker. He never gets any mention. It’s always “mike” this and “mike” that. If the quarterback must make such public pronouncements over my television set, here’s hoping we get more responses like this one: (Courtesy of Deadspin. Thanks Deadspin.)

* * *

Great moments in War Memorial Stadium history

(We’ll miss these once all the Razorback games are played up in the Midwest.)

A few years back, a fella we know sat in the bleachers in front of a family that was getting a little rowdy. Actually, it was mom who was getting rowdy — rowdy enough to attract the attention of stadium security, rowdy enough to offend stadium security, rowdy enough to be removed from the premises by stadium security.

Her husband and two kids remained behind. And why not? After all, they weren’t the rowdy ones and, more importantly, the game was tight and the Hogs needed their support.

Alas, the Razorbacks dropped a heartbreaker. At game’s end, the man turned to his kids and uttered the immortal words: “Boys, let’s go bail mama out of jail.”

(True story. Hand to God. And is that the title of a great country song, or what?)

Surely fans in Alabama can relate.

* * *

Razorback equations

Bill Montgomery – Clint Stoerner ÷ Zak Clark = Brandon Allen

Frank Gore ÷ Fred Talley = Alex Collins

Danny Ford + a personality + a hundred pounds = Bret Bielema

Hunter Henry + continued development = Rob Gronkowski

* * *

Quittin’ time

If you’ve played football at any competitive level, you know there comes a time when you get it: OK, we’re not good enough. We can try as hard as we can, but we’re not going to win this league/beat this team without a lot of breaks or Divine intervention or both. I had several “get it” moments during a largely unsuccessful pee-wee, junior high and high school career. The one that sticks with me most came sophomore year of high school. We’d taken the bus from Little Rock to Hot Springs, where we’d promptly gotten our ass kicked. Now we were on the bus heading back home, tired and sore, and the beside-himself coach is asking the player next to me what we can do to win a game. The player, one of those awful gung-ho types who never saw the field, suggested maybe more sprints after practice. Yes, that would surely solve the problem of our team being slower, smaller and less skilled than any other.

The thing about watching this Razorback season is that you wonder how these guys do it. They go to the well. It’s empty. Back to the well. Empty. Back to the well. As frustrated as Hog fans are — and, please, save the self-pity; you’re watching, not playing — imagine what it’s like for one of these players, busting it every week and just not getting there, getting just close enough to make it really hurt.

That Mississippi State game did it for me. These Hogs get a season pass for that effort. Because … why? Other than pride, why? Other than that sports-specific kind of brotherly love, why? Other than hope, why?

So it’s gotta be that, right? It’s gotta be a combination of pride, hope and love. And that’s enough, more than enough, to like these Hogs. It’s something, isn’t it? Kind of restores one’s faith in organized athletics at this high level to see a team like this one Just. Keep. Fighting.

Me? I would have quit at halftime of the Georgia game.

* * *

Recommended reading I

Wright Thompson’s “A Ride Down Paradise Road.” Since this piece ran on ESPN.com, Ole Miss has dropped two straight and Mississippi State, in surviving a scare from a team that hasn’t won an SEC game since the South leaned left, doesn’t appear to be the Goliath some of us assumed. Still, for one apocalyptic-y week, Mississippi ruled the world of college football. And Thompson, a Mississippi native and resident of Oxford, explained what that was like — which is to say, inexplicable.

Anything by Thompson is worth a read, but this surely will make his Collected Works.

Recommended reading II

Is Arkansas that almost good or is the SEC that overrated? Discuss.

An excerpt:

By taking No. 1 Mississippi State down to the wire, the Razorbacks once again served as Exhibit A in the never-ending argument for and against the existence of SEC bias.

Either Arkansas is that good or the SEC is only average. It can’t be both. Bielema’s squad either proves the league’s incredible strength top to bottom or it shows that the top just isn’t as good as some believe.

How else could No. 3 Auburn be tied at halftime with a team that hadn’t won an SEC game in two years?

How else could No. 6 Alabama trail a team in the fourth quarter that it had beaten 52-0 in each of the previous two seasons?

How else could No. 1 Mississippi State need a fourth-and-two stop and a red-zone interception to survive a .500 team at home?

Either Arkansas is a wolf in sheep’s clothing or those teams don’t deserve their high rankings.

* * *

What? You mean we have to play all FOUR quarters?

Say, did you suffer from Bobby Petrino envy in the first half of the Louisville-Florida State game last week? C’mon. Not even a little bit? Thought so.

Thank goodness for the inevitable second-half collapse, huh?

In the end, barring the crazy turnover or miracle play (here’s looking at you last year, Auburn), talent wins out.

* * *

What’s Hot, What’s Not

Auburn is the new LSU. Are the Tigers good because they’re lucky, or are they lucky because they’re good?

Mississippi State is the new Florida. Dak Prescott + better arm = Tim Tebow.

Arkansas is the new Vandertucky.

Georgia is the new old Georgia.

Florida is the new pre-Saban LSU. So much talent. So little direction.

LSU is the old new LSU.

Alabama is the new Alabama.

* * *

Mail call

Reader Arnie asks: If you could go back in time and change one play of a Razorback game, which one would it be?

If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t waste it on a football game. There are the biggies: Go back and take out Hitler as a child, warn JFK away from Dallas, keep Lincoln out of Ford’s Theatre. But the problem with all those, as we know from years of watching the Twilight Zone and reading sci-fi, is that you end up changing the world in unexpected and often unfortunate ways. Stephen King wrote a whole book (actually, more like a book-and-a-half given its size) about a guy who traveled back in time and saved Kennedy. When he returned to the present, things had never been worse. You don’t mess with Historic Events. That we know.

So I’d probably do something more personal and less catastrophic. Like go back in time and see my dad. Or my old dog Thurber.

Recommended viewing: the movie About Time, an underrated little jewel with a charming performance by the underrated Bill Nighy.

* * *

Dispatch from the real world

My friend C.S. texted me Saturday to ask if the “big game” she just heard about at the liquor store was basketball or football. She lives in Little Rock. I admire her mental discipline to so thoroughly block out the crazy.

sports desk


Tags: ,