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Photo Of Pelphrey With Recruits Could Be Final Nail In Coffin

You haven’t made the NCAA Tournament in three years.  Attendance is dwindling.  Some fans are placing ads in newspapers to voice their displeasure with you.  Your squad dropped its last two games to blow a shot at a bye in the SEC Tournament.

If you’re John Pelphrey facing a must-win game against Tennessee tonight, could things be any worse?

Yes.

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com has posted a photo of Pelphrey smiling beside junior recruits Trey Smith and Archie Goodwin at an off-campus event.

The photo appears to violate NCAA Bylaw 13.1.1.1 which states that coaches can’t make off-campus contact with prospects (or their relatives or guardians) until after July 1st heading into that recruit’s senior year.

Smith told CBSSports.com that his mother took the picture.  “My mom was like, ‘Hey, go get a picture.’  So we snapped a picture.” 

And added to Pelphrey’s misery in doing so.

“As with any potential compliance issue, the institution will gather information and review to determine where a violation has occurred,” said an Arkansas statement this morning.  “If, after a thorough review of the facts, it is determined a violation has occurred, the University of Arkansas will take appropriate action in reporting the information consistent with all established procedures.”

Bottom line: We’re talking about what would have — in pre-internet days — been called a secondary violation.  A quick snapshot of a coach and two players. 

In today’s world, that’s enough to land you in the headlines of a major, national website.

Oh, well.  At least Pelphrey didn’t lie about it.

But it can’t be good for his chances of surviving.


UPDATE — Jerry Tipton of The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Pelphrey said yesterday that “it takes time” to build a program.  “We’re doing it the right way,” the coach said.  “We have tremendous kids in the program. … We’ve got something we can build on.”

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Calipari Has Kind Words For Pelphrey

When it comes to Arkansas basketball fans, John Calipari’s opinion probably matters very little.  But for beleaguered head coach John Pelphrey, his rival’s words after last night’s 77-76 Hog win are no doubt appreciated.

“Any time you’re up against it like Arkansas was, to compete the way they did it says a lot about their team and a lot about their coach,” Calipari said.  “I thought John coached a great game and his guys responded.”

Nice words.  But when the coach’s detractors run them through the Rabid-Razorback-Anti-Pelphrey Translator, they’ll probably hear this instead: “Please don’t fire this guy, Arkansas, ’cause I can usually beat him.”

Kudos to Pelphrey.  Talk about a guy who needed a big win.  He deserves another season in Fayetteville to show what he can do.

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Arkansas’ Powell “Can’t Comment” On Relationship With Pelphrey

When a coach is in trouble, every little ripple can turn into a tidal wave.  And Marshawn Powell is splashing around in John Pelphrey’s pool.

During a lengthy interview with reporters, the Arkansas sophomore was asked if there was any truth to rumors that his relationship with his head coach is strained.  His answer:

“I really can’t comment on that too much.”  Asked to clarify, Powell said, “I can’t talk about it.”  Asked why he can’t talk about it he replied, “I choose not to, man.”

But by choosing not to comment (man), Powell has thrown another log on the fire burning beneath his coach’s seat.  Chris Bahn of ArkansasSports360.com writes that the Pelphrey-Powell divide “doesn’t make for a healthy locker room in a program that has been beset by player-player and player-coach chemistry issues since Pelphrey arrived.”

If Powell wanted to give his head coach one more issue to have to explain and dance around, mission accomplished.  And that’s exactly what Pelphrey needed this year — another distraction.

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Financial Losses May Eventually Cost Pelphrey His Job

If you read this site with regularity, you know that we believe fans have the ultimate control over coaches’ fates.  If fans by tickets for a losing program, a coach with a bad record can survive.  If fans stop supporting a winning program, a coach with a good record can get the boot.  Just ask ACC Coach of the Year Ralph Friedgen who was shown the door at Maryland this year.

Well the fans are weighing in on John Pelphrey’s situation at Arkansas and the results aren’t good for the Razorbacks’ coach.  Fans aren’t buying tickets to games.  Fans aren’t coming to games.  The once raucus Bud Walton Arena is now running at about 60% capacity and that’s the “tickets sold” count. 

Matt Jones of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette believes the Razorbacks will lose as much as $2 million this season due to unsold seats.  Now toss in the losses brought on by unsold luxury suites, concessions, memorabilia, and even parking spots.

Those are the kinds of numbers that can make an AD who is supportive of his coach… fire his coach.  In the end, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long is running a business.  As much as he wants Pelphrey to get the chance to coach his incoming, highly-ranked recruiting class, he might still be forced to make a move on UA’s basketball coach for financial reasons.

In the end, the fans always control the show with their wallets.  For that reason, Pelphrey had better end the Hogs’ current three-game losing streak and close out the season on a good note.

Time and money are running out.

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SEC Headlines – 1/18/11 Part Two

1.  Alabama is 9-0 at home going into tonight’s contest with Kentucky.

2.  The Wildcats will test the Tide’s stingy defense.

3.  As we pointed out on this site yesterday, if NCAA trouble is on Auburn’s horizon, why aren’t Gene Chizik’s assistants fleeing?

4.  John Pelphrey said last week that guard Jemal Farmer was dealing with “personal things,” but his status for Arkansas’ game at South Carolina tomorrow is still up in the air.

5.  UTEP coach Tim Floyd believes Pelphrey’s program is about to turn the corner.

6.  This writer doesn’t believe one bad loss at Kentucky should derail LSU in the SEC West.

7.  Andy Kennedy has his slumping Rebels putting in more practice work.

8.  Ole Miss’ defense is getting the bulk of Kennedy’s attention.

9.  Secondary rules violations remain a hot topic in Oxford.

10.  Mississippi State needs to take care of business entering a three-game stretch against SEC East teams (and their high RPI ratings).

11.  And you’ll all be glad to know that “Taylor Stone” apparently remains on the MSU cheerleading squad.

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SEC Headlines – 1/12/11 Part Two

1.  Florida needed overtime but the Gators won their first game in Knoxville since 2005 81-57 last night.

2.  On an off-the-court note, here’s a excellent story on how Anthony Grant, John Pelphrey and Billy Donovan have all become closer… through the loss of a child.

3.  Florida’s football team finished unranked for the first time in 20 years.

4.  Mark Richt has given linebacker Marcus Dowtin — one of the Dawgs’ leading tacklers the last two years — an unconditional release following the news that he’d been arrested last spring… and never told his coach.

5.  After spending a season ripping Brett Favre — and sounding like a bitter old man — Fran Tarkenton is now ripping Richt – and sounding like a bigger old man.  Now get off his lawn!

6.  Bad weather forced UGA’s basketball team to bus its way to Nashville for tonight’s game with Vandy.

7.  Terrence Jones went off for 35 points to lead Kentucky to a 78-54 win over Auburn last night.

8.  Following the Enes Kanter ruling, UK president Lee Todd will ask the NCAA for an explanation of what European players can and cannot do.

9.  Not understanding that fans never want to hear the following, Joker Phillips said yesterday that his Wildcats are “not that far away.”  (That might be true, but fans never want to hear that after a 6-7 season.)

10.  Fresh off a win over Vanderbilt, Darrin Horn takes his team into Tuscaloosa tonight.

11.  Tennessee’s offense fell apart in an overtime loss to Florida last night.

12.  That’s the same old story for a team that doesn’t have a scorer to step up at the end of games.

13.  UT won’t have an easy time climbing out of an 0-2 SEC hole.

14.  Vanderbilt isn’t panicking heading into tonight’s game with Georgia.

15.  Several Commodores are still stinging from Saturday’s loss at South Carolina.

16.  Kevin Stallings says Mark Fox has done a good job, but Dennis Felton left him some good players.

17.  When it comes to college football, there’s the SEC and everybody else…

18.  But the SEC is off to a rough start in basketball.

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Another Day, Another Suspension At Arkansas

Taking into consideration the mess he inherited upon arrival, we here at MrSEC.com have thrown some support behind embattled Arkansas coach John Pelphrey the last couple of years.  We’ve called out Razorback fans for not filling Bud Walton Arena.  We’ve tsk-tsked columnists who’ve taken potshots at UA’s top hog.

Well.  Ya know.  Maybe we were wrong.

Pelphrey has now suspended yet another player from his team.  Forward Marshawn Powell — a preseason All-SEC selection who is still recovering from an offseason broken foot — will be out indefinitely.

“I think it’s a fluid timetable,” Pelphrey said.  “I think it can be as long as it needs to be and it can be as short as it needs to be.”

Not unlike Pelphrey’s tenure in Fayetteville.

Powell’s playing time has dropped recently and Pelphrey has refused to say why.  A day after Powell returned from Christmas break late — due to a car accident — Pelphrey delivered the news of the suspension to his forward.  “I think he took it pretty well.”

Even so, Pelphrey has now suspended 16 different players during his four-year stay at UA.  That’s exactly half of the players who’ve “suited up for multiple games,” as ArkansasSports360.com puts it.

At this point, it seems that one of the following statements must be true:

a.  Pelphrey has no control over his team and, therefore, constantly needs to discipline and suspend players.

b.  Pelphrey has recruited a long line of miscreants and no-goodniks who continue to prove incapable of conforming to the coach’s rules.

c.  Pelphrey is such a stickler and has handed out so much discipline that his admonishments and punishments no longer carry any weight whatsoever with his troops.  Meaning: If a dog barks long enough, you eventually learn to tune it out.

d.  Pelphrey is Norman Dale.  Does he force his players to dribble between chairs?  Has he handed down a “four passes before every shot” edict?  Will he play with four players rather than send a disobedient fifth player back onto the court?  Perhaps at some point.

But judging from the results so far, we’ll take options a, b or c over option d. 

And we’re starting to understand why Razorback fans are staying away from Bud Walton Arena in droves.  It’s hard to like a team that the coach himself can’t seem to stand.

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Pelphrey embraces first win ‘in state’

Kentucky
Content provided by Jerry Tipton on UK basketball.

John Pelphrey, one of UK’s “Unforgettables,” embraced his Arkansas team’s 71-62 victory over Seton Hall Wednesday night.

Asked if he could blockout this return to his home state, Pelphrey said, “I’d like to sit here and tell you I don’t think about it. But when you walk into the building, moments of time flash back.”

Pelphrey called the game in Freedom Hall “very humbling.”

And, he added, “the task at hand becomes even more valuable to me. I want to do well. This was the first win in state (for Pelphrey) as a head coach.”

A moment later, Pelphrey added, “It’s not about me. I had my time and my day.”

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Pelphrey Must Overcome Fan Apathy In Fayetteville

Calling into talk radio shows won’t get it done.  Writing nasty things on messageboards won’t get it done, either.  Ditto spreading ugly lies and rumors.

No, if you want to force a coaching change at your school just stop going to games.  Nothing impacts a school’s decision-making like fan apathy.  Fan apathy hits a school right in the bottom line.

With that in mind, John Pelphrey is facing an uphill battle at Arkansas.  Once a basketball-crazy fanbase, now Razorback fans reserve their hog hats for football games.  Through their first two games this season, Pelphrey’s team has drawn just 6,000 fans per game. 

Matt Jones of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette puts that in perspective: “By comparison, the Arkansas baseball team drew an average of 5,400 in its first two games of last year.”  Not good. 

Jones discusses the issues that might be playing a role in Arkansas’ attendance woes right here.  There are many. 

Now maybe some wins will generate more fan interest.  Maybe a toughening schedule will help.  And football won’t last much longer, either.

But for Pelphrey, all those empty seats are something to pay attention to.  Next year he has one of the nation’s top recruiting classes coming to Fayetteville.  Question is: How many fans will be at Bud Walton Arena to greet them?

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HI Radio: National Signing Day

Arkansas
Content provided by The Slophouse.

FAYETTEVILLE - Each week we host the podcast for our sister publication Hawgs Illustrated and this week we aired a special edition to recap the early national signing period.

In it, HI recruiting editor Dudley Dawson and I recap the period for both basketball and baseball, including interviews with John Pelphrey and Dave Van Horn.

You can also find the podcast on iTunes by searching “Hawgs Illustrated”.

Recruiting

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