Jeremy Peppas: Kennedy, Reporting & Fun with WPS Numbers

Listen up Buster, this one’s for you.

There’s a very famous tale in the journalism world. After John F. Kennedy was killed and the preparations were being made for his funeral, Jimmy Breslin, then writing for the New York Herald Tribune, went and interviewed Kennedy’s gravedigger for a piece on JFK’s funeral.

You can read it here, if you like, but why it keeps getting told is to emphasize that if you’re working as a reporter, it would be better not in the scrum, jostling for the same, tired quotes from the same tired people, but instead, out on your own, talking to the people no one else is speaking with.

You might be surprised by what you hear, and in the right hands, with the right amount of skill, it might become one of the most famous stories ever told.

So what does this have to do with college football and look Buster if you’re trying to make some connection between the death of President Kennedy and the sooner rather than later demise of middling football coach in Fayetteville I might be offended.

And I’m not trying to connect those two things, so don’t be offended.

Just remember this, when you read stories whether they’re in print or online, or if you see a television broadcast, or listen to something on the radio, you are hearing the same, tired quotes, from the same, tired people.

That might lead one to think that there’s some special insight. There’s not.

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Fun with numbers

0 – Number of conference wins by Chad Morris, the first coach in the SEC not replaced after going 0-8

0 – The number of coaches who have had back-to-back 0-8 records in the SEC

0 – The number of assistant coaches at the University of Arkansas who have previously been college head coaches or NFL assistants

0 – Number of people at Club Dub, after the the Arkansas lose to San Jose State

1 – Highland Park home still occupied by Chad Morris’s family, who didn’t follow him to Fayetteville

10 – Losses last season by Chad Morris, the first Arkansas football coach to lose 10 games in one season

3,500,000 – The amount of money paid to Chad Morris annually to coach college football at the University of Arkansas

12,000,000 – Estimated buyout of Chad Morris’s contract at the University of Arkansas

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Four corners

There’s something essential that needs to be said of Arkansas and its football recruiting.

Besides luck, these things need to happen:

Arkansas has to get the best of the state.

They need to successfully recruit the Metroplex along with north and east Texas.

They need to own the Four Corners as the best option for those there.

Luck is, perhaps, the most essential of these. That’s a variable no coach can control.

However, since the inclusion of Texas A&M and Mizzou, the “Play in the SEC” pitch is no longer exclusive to Arkansas with the Aggies and Tigers in the league.

It is, perhaps, the biggest reason why no coach can turn Arkansas around in the expanded league.

The state doesn’t produce enough players, plus the coaching staff doesn’t have the job security to take a flyer on a prospect. Jamaal Anderson went from a high school wide receiver at Parkview to a first round pick in the NFL draft. There’s no one like that walking through that door now because it also requires a certain amount of luck.

With the numbers not coming in from the previous hotbeds and also unlucky, Arkansas is stuck in a morass.

You probably shouldn’t put too much stock into the star system. It is almost entirely based on summer camp evaluations and not in-game, in-season evaluations.

There are far too many players, and not enough scouts, so players who can afford to hit the camp circuit will be evaluated higher, plus the interest of schools also plays a factor. No player seriously recruited by an Alabama or Clemson is going to slip through the cracks as a 1 or a 2 star. The system demands that those players be rated higher. They just have to be.

So what it means is that the top-flight schools will always be evaluated higher. That’s also true for Arkansas. The Hogs will always have a highly regarded class nationally because of the SEC affiliation. It is just that top 20 class nationally will be 11 or 12 or worse in the conference.

Still it leads to a talent imbalance that was painfully obvious when a bad SEC team like Arkansas plays a school like San Jose.

It was the reason why the Spartans were a three-touchdown ‘dog to the Hogs.

But the coaching was off. The game planning was off. The motivation was off. The desire to simply not be embarrassed on national television wasn’t there.

It isn’t going to get better. It can’t.

Maybe Arkansas pulls the SEC upset here or there, but that doesn’t appear likely.

* * *

Back to fun with numbers

? – Patience for Chad Morris, the current head coach at the University of Arkansas…

Kennedy San Jose

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