Photo: Walt Beazley, ArkansasRazorbacks.com
It’s that time of year to wish everyone Christmas cheer and an even happier New Year. Yeah, well, that’s enough with the rhyming business. I’ll keep my personal wish list to ol’ Santa Claus a secret, but I do have some requests for the Razorbacks that I don’t mind sharing.
Hopefully the Razorbacks fan base hasn’t been too naughty this year so that some of these might come to fruition.
Mike Anderson: Remember when Walton Arena was THE PLACE TO BE in the state of Arkansas? It’s been a while, but the potential is still there if Hog fans truly want it to be. Attendance for Razorbacks basketball games has been terrible so far this season, even though season ticket sales for this year were about the same for recent years. No matter the reason, it’s sad to see more empty seats than filled.
While the current Hogs have yet to reach a consistent level of play, it is a fun team to watch, and one that crowd support could really help. My Christmas wish for Coach A is that Razorbacks fans who have tickets will just use them.
Also, a little more luck on the recruiting trail would also hurt this spring. Despite Malik Monk doing what he believes is best for him and his family, Anderson and his staff inked some fine players in November. If they are able to finish up strong in April, folks might not be able to find a seat available in Walton Arena in coming seasons.
Jimmy Dykes: No doubt, Dykes knew when he stepped into the head coaching position of Arkansas’ women’s basketball program that his first year stood to be a good one, and it was with a trip to the NCAA Tournament and a 57-55 victory over Northwestern before running into Baylor in the second round. Likewise, he had to know his second year would be a struggle. For Dykes, I wish patience and fortitude as he continues to develop this team and his program into what he foresees.
Bret Bielema: For Coach B, it’s a three-fold wish. First is that the Hogs play up to their ability in the Liberty Bowl and bring home a victory over Kansas State to post an eight-win season and keep momentum building. Secondly, a bang-up recruiting class including some of hosses at running back, linebacker and safety, who are prepared to provide depth right away. And third, a fast start to the 2016 season to go along with another strong finish. There’s no rule against being above .500 during the first half of the season.
Dave Van Horn: For Van Horn, it’s pretty simple, another trip to the College World Series. The Hogs, whom Collegiate Baseball ranked 24th on Monday in its preseason ratings, started slowly last season but came on strong to make their 10th trip to Omaha. If the Hogs keep making the trips to the College World Series, they are bound to win it one year. Maybe, it will be this year?
Jeff Long: Arkansas’ Athletics Director may or may not see it as a gift, but I wish Long another tour of duty as the chair of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. The notoriety he gains for the role is great publicity for the Razorbacks program.
Scott Varady: I wish Scott great success as he moves from the University of Arkansas general counsel’s office to head up the Razorback Foundation. On the surface, it may not seem to be the most likely move, but anyone who has met Scott is not only impressed but also put at ease by his personality. And there is no doubt he loves the Razorbacks.
Brandon Allen: Few Razorbacks have shown as much character on and off the field as Allen. Here’s wishing he caps his final game as Razorback by leading his teammates to victory, and then that he gets a great opportunity with the right team in the NFL.
Jabril Durham: It’s been a pleasure to watch Durham despite the Hogs’ up-and-down play this season. He is leading the SEC in assists with 7.8 per game. Here’s wishing that he keeps dropping those dimes at the same pace against SEC competition.
Dan Enos: The Razorbacks’ offensive coordinator really showed his stuff in the last half of the football season when the Hogs went 5-1. My wish for him is the gift of time management this spring as he sorts through the candidates — Austin Allen, Rafe Peavey, Ty Storey or Ricky Town — for the starting quarterback job. There’s no way he’ll have enough time to give them all equal snaps. The cream will rise to the top. Here’s hoping it does so quickly.
Robb Smith: The Razorbacks defensive coordinator had a top-10 defense in his first season with the Hogs, but his second season was rough. Here’s wishing that his Razorbacks return to their 2014 form in 2016 or at least settle in for a happy medium. Fifty-point blowouts make Hog fans happy, but the 50-point shootouts the Hogs had in November are tough on our hearts.
John George: For the Razorbacks’ public address announcer for football and basketball games, I wish him about 20 pounds of throat lozenges for his golden throat, and the opportunity to say 3-point basket by Dusty Hannahs and/or Anthlon Bell more times than any of us can count this season.
Hunter Henry: I’m wishing that Henry becomes a two-time winner of the Mackey Award for the best tight end in the nation next season or for a spot on the NFL All-Rookie Team, whichever is applicable. But two Mackey Awards as bookends would be so stylish and even more unique.
Moses Kingsley: Kingsley is doing yeoman’s work in his junior season, averaging a double-double with 15.5 points per game and 10.3 rebounds per game. I wish him some help on the glass. With 103 rebounds this season, he has more than double the amount of boards than any other Hog. Next in line is point guard Jabril Durham with 44 for an average of 4.4 rpg. Trey Thompson has been hurt much of the season, but Kingsley needs some help on the glass. Gang rebounding is key in Anderson’s system. Here’s wishing that Moses’ teammates step it up on the glass.
Jonathan Williams: Williams has recovered from the ankle injury that sidelined him for his season year. Here’s wishing he has a great showing at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine and then parlays that in to an NFL career.
Bobby Portis: My wish for Bobby is more playing time. He may have earned it, too. In his first extended NBA minutes, Bobby recorded a double-double for the Chicago Bulls last Saturday, scoring 20 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and making two steals against the New York Knicks.
Darren McFadden: The Hogs all-time leading rusher is having one of his best seasons in the NFL, but the Dallas Cowboys are woeful. Here’s wishing that McFadden has the chance to have another fine season next year, but this time with a playoff bound team, whether it’s in Dallas or not.
Dallas Keuchel: The former Razorbacks pitcher won the American League Cy Young Award last season after recording a 20-win season. What more could I wish for the Houston Astros pitcher? How about continued success and health to make another run at the award next season.
Razorback Fans: For Hog fans I wish you all a very merry Christmas and many great things to cheer for in the new year.