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Fan Apathy An Issue At Arkansas?

When fans start leaving a game in the second quarter, it’s not a real good sign.  And that’s just what happened during Alabama’s thrashing of free-falling Arkansas.  What’s it mean?  According to Doc Harper of, it means AD Jeff Long needs to start worrying about the psyche of the Razorback fanbase:


“In a matter of eight days, events have resulted in fans blaming Athletic Director Jeff Long, former coach Bobby Petrino, the current coaches, and some have even blamed players. One has to wonder how much more the Arkansas fan base can absorb. After spending several seasons passionately pining for the removal of Houston Nutt, fans seemed to have the answer to all of their questions in Petrino. After a brief taste of the high life in college football, the program feels like it’s back at square one.”


So it only takes some Arkansas fans eight days and two losses to jump from their beloved cardinal-and-white (and now black and silver, too) ship?  Yes.  Is that an indictment of a fanbase made up frontrunners?  Not really.  It says more about today’s culture than it does about Arkansas fans.

With the prices fans have to pay to go to games, the smallest reason to stay home often leads many to do just that.  In an instant gratification society, the gratification needs to be both instant and constant.  Or else.

Don’t believe me?  Let Nick Saban lose back-to-back games and there would be a few Alabama fans who’d start barking about complacency.  Guaranteed.

As Harper astutely points out, the current situation in Fayetteville could impact who Long brings in as the school’s next coach:  “Now, if the new coach fails to generate instant enthusiasm, will fans have the patience to wait for success?”

The key word in his closing sentence?  Instant.


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Some schools fan bases have a tradition of sticking it out until the end, no matter what. I would have bet money that the Arkansas fan base was one of those, until this game. It wasn't the fact there were 3 to 5% (yep, that's about what it was) of the seats filled at the end of the game, it was that the mass migration out of the stadium began at half time. Half-time. By the middle of the third quarter, less than half of the fans were still there. That's astounding, in the third quarter, less than HALF. No doubt the issue was decided by then, but you're on the sidelines as a player, and you can not only see the stands empty, you can feel the stands empty, hear the fans breaking camp and BS'ing on the way out. 


Emotion is part of the game. Much harder for the players to get back on the field, and I mean MUCH harder, when that is happening. It was just a wierd sight at an SEC game.


Losing the head coach is like a family losing there father.You want to believe everything will be ok,but it's not. How can you keep your mind on the game  with so many distractions.These players loved there former coach and would do anything for him.It could have been easy to approach a BIG name coach with this pitch. You have everything you need to win a national title. This team is gift wrapped to be a winning season.We got Davis healthy,the top sec quarterback,and most of our starters returning.What else could you want as a 1st year coach. Now they got to find a new coach to rebuild the program So sad..


I've been a Hog fan my whole life and I'm 51 so I have had my share of disappointments, but I've also had some nice highs too.  It's easy to be a bandwagon fan of whatever team is hot, but that's not my gig.  I was born a Hog, I'll die a Hog.  I'll be at the Rutgers game cheering on "my team".   I do not expect instant success for a new coach, but I would agree that I expect instant hope.  We patiently waited through Bobby Petrino's rebuilding, now we can wait through another one, hopefully one a bit more defensive minded.

sfprman 1 Like

While not an Arky fan (or anything with the word kansas in it) in the least, clearly piggie fans have been dealt a rather dramatic blow.  A month ago they were basking in the promise of the coming season where hype said they could win the national championship (even AFTER Petrino's mess and departure).  Seems like the fans still show up, it's just that the coaches and players stopped.  The fans are clearly NOT responsible for any of the current Arky mess and to deflect any of the blame to them is simply silly.

Should_Be_Working 1 Like

apathy-  noun.  Lack of interest, excitement, or concern.  I know your point in the opinion piece, but I would venture to say that any TRUE Arkansas fan is not apathetic.  As an Arkansas fan, my excitement for this year might have waned, but my interest in, and concern for the Razorbacks still remains!!  I don't know what a better word would be.  Disgruntled, maybe?  I'm 34 and grew up in Arkansas and never will I stop following, rooting for, and supporting the Razorbacks.  I hope Jeff Long will lure a coach that brings the excitement back.  Just remember Arkansas fans, there are ups and downs with every program.  This one could not have come at a worse time for our program, but we will get back to winning.  Until then, don't lose interest, or concern!  

JamieThornton 1 Like

i've got no problem calling for John L Smith to be fired. Not because they lost 52-0 to Alabama and got beat by a sun belt team before that. When a coach says I don't know what to tell them and has nothing to say after a game, it shows a lack of leadership. A lot of michigan state fans would've already said this. And a lot did to Arkansas fans. But to leave a game early, forget that. They should stay until the end. If the fans quit, what does that say to the KIDS playing in the game.


I left the game early in the 3rd quarter soon after Dennis Johnson fumbled the kickoff and Alabama scored to make it 38-0. It was apparent to me at that time that the players wanted to be there as much as I did, which was not at all. Of course, it also began raining in the 2nd quarter and did not let up until late in the 4th, and I had a flimsy jacket.


I'll be there for Rutgers, and I'd suspect that there will be around 68,000 (near capacity) for that one. It's a game that was expected to draw around 72,000 before the season, but fans will still come to support the players. Supporting the new coach won't be an issue: Jeff Long knows his job depends on a home run hire. Sources in the athletic department have said that Long is willing to make the next coach the highest paid in college football, if necessary. I would expect a defense-first coach (Charlie Strong, Butch Davis, and Gary Patterson seem to be the runaway leaders) and then drop a bunch on a good OC.


How about fair weather fans?  It's disgusting to see the number of fans on-line that I've notice suddenly disavow the season or heck, one fellow claimed he was quitting being a Razorback fan after 40 years!   Feel free to lamblast 'em, John, they're poor representatives of the fan base.  A fan has a right to be disappointed, can express that disappointment, but that shouldn't equate to just giving up on the team.  Now, one thing missing from your post is that it was raining cats and dogs, adding to the miserable experience. (But yeah, see the earlier lamblasting comment).

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