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Arkansas Playing For Pride, But That Tact Seldom Works

gfx - by the numbersThe Arkansas Razorbacks are 3-7 overall, 0-6 in the SEC and riding a brutal seven-game losing streak.  That means there’s really only one thing left to play for:


“We’ve got two games to show what kind of pride we have.” – coach Bret Bielema

“It’s about pride.  We’ve got to have pride in what we do… We’ve got to keep building each and every week and be motivated for these last two games… We’re being prideful about our program.  We are Arkansas, and we’re trying to get back to the way we used to be.” — receiver Julian Horton


Sounds good, but how often does “playing for pride” actually work?  We went back through the last five SEC seasons to examine how all the teams that lost at least seven with two games to play.  Here’s how they fared in their final few ballgames:


* 2012 Kentucky (2-10) — 1-3 after seventh loss with long win coming against FCS-level Samford

* 2012 Auburn (3-9) — 0-2 after seventh loss, losing by a combined score of 100-7

* 2011 Ole Miss (2-10) — 0-3 after seventh loss, losing by a combined score of 110-13

* 2010 Vanderbilt (2-10) — 0-3 after seventh loss

* 2009 Vanderbilt (2-10) — 0-3 after seventh loss

* 2008 Tennessee (5-7) — 2-0 after seventh loss, beating Vanderbilt and Kentucky to send Phillip Fulmer out with wins

* 2008 Mississippi State (4-8) — 1-1 after seventh loss, beating Arkansas and then losing to Ole Miss to end Sylvester Croom’s tenure


The lesson: You can have plenty of pride (and heart and guts) and still be a bad football team.  Playing for pride doesn’t often result in success.

(Bonus: For the children of the ’80s out there.)



Good luck playing for pride.

At places like Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas the players are playing for next year's playing time. Those coaches will be around for at least two more years, so the players better remain focussed and motivated.

Mississippi State and, to a lesser extent, Florida players may anticipate the possibility of coaching changes. If they think the coach may not be there next year they may mail it in as bowl eligibility becomes more of a pipe dream.


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