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Florida Lands Talented In-State Running Back

Running back Matt Jones from Seffner (Fla.) Armwood High School has committed to Florida.

“I grew up a Georgia fan and they were the top, but Florida just took over,” Jones said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “I just like Coach (Will) Muschamp. He’s a great guy and so is Charlie Weis. They walked me through everything, me and my mom, and it was all great.”

Jones said he was also told he’s Florida No. 1 target at running for 2012. Jones, who stands 6-feet-2 and 200 pounds, said the Gators are also looking for a speedy runner who can also line up in the slot receiver position.

Jones made his commitment to Florida after visiting Gainesville last weekend.

“I was real happy, just so excited,” he said. “I knew I was going to commit when I got there. They were all jacked up … after I told them.”

Jones is Florida’s third commitment for the class of 2012.

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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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Allen Wins Player of the Year

Arkansas
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SPRINGDALE – Fayetteville quarterback and Arkansas commit Brandon Allen won the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club Player of the Year award on Wednesday.

Allen beat out fellow finalists Shiloh Christian quarterback Kiehl Frazier and Springdale Har-Ber offensive tackle Brey Cook. It was the inaugural player of the year award given by the club, which is also in its first year.

“It’s just an honor,” Allen said. “To be in the running with guys like Kiehl Frazier and Brey Cook – those are some big names right there with a lot of scholarship offers. Those are probably the two biggest names in our class, so it’s a huge honor to be here with them.”

The trio headlined the state’s talented senior class all season and have more than 40 combined scholarship offers. Allen and Cook are verbally committed to Arkansas, while Frazier committed to Auburn earlier this year. Cook, a Scout.com 5-star prospect, will begin classes at the UA in January.

Allen became the first player from the state’s largest classification to pass for more than 10,000 yards in a career. The senior quarterbacked the Bulldogs to a Class 7A runner-up finish by passing for 3,419 yards and 38 touchdowns, and no interceptions in the regular season.

“That was our goal all year was to get to the state game,” Allen said. “To get there and come up short was heart-breaking, but we accomplished a lot this year.”

Allen was a unanimous selection for the award, which was presented by ARpreps.com.

Former Arkansas coach Danny Ford was the keynote speaker at the club’s final meet this year. For more on what Ford had to say, read Clay Henry’s State of the Hogs: Ford Unchanged.

For more visit WholeHogSports.com. You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.

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Ford to Speak at Touchdown Club

Arkansas
Content provided by The Slophouse.

FAYETTEVILLE - Former Arkansas coach Danny Ford will speak at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club on Wednesday. Lunch begins at 11 a.m. with the program following at noon. The touchdown club meets at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Springdale.

Ford, who was fired from the school in 1997, has made only three trips back to the state since his coaching tenure. His last trip was for the announcement of the Burlsworth Trophy in August, named for former Arkansas player Brandon Burlsworth. Ford is one of the members for that trophy’s board.

The club will also honor the area’s player of the year, coach of the year and newcomer of the year, which will be presented by ARpreps.com.

Player of the year finalists are Fayetteville quarterback Brandon Allen, Springdale Har-Ber offensive tackle Brey Cook and Shiloh Christian quarterback Kiehl Frazier. Allen and Cook are both committed to Arkansas, while Frazier is committed to Auburn.

West Fork coach Rodney Selph will be given the coach of the year award after helping lead his team to an 11-3 record and an appearance in the Class 3A state semifinals.

Bentonville running back Tearris Wallace will be given the newcomer of the year award. Wallace rushed for five touchdowns in his team’s win over Fayetteville last week in the Class 7A State Championship Game in Little Rock.

Tickets for club members are $15 at the door. Tickets for non-members are $25.

For more visit WholeHogSports.com. You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.

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Pelphrey Returns to Freedom Hall

Arkansas
Content provided by The Slophouse.

FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas’ basketball team will take on Seton Hall on Wednesday at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Ky.

The game, which is part of the SEC-Big East Invitational, will tip-off at 6 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2. It will be the first time the Razorbacks have played in the event, which isn’t expected to be renewed for another season.

The event will be somewhat of a homecoming for Arkansas coach John Pelphrey, a Kentucky native. The fourth-year Razorbacks coach played six times at the arena as a collegian at the University of Kentucky.

“It will be good going back there,” Pelphrey said. “It’s a great place to play. It should be a great environment.”

Arkansas (5-1) enters the game on a two-game winning streak following double-digit home wins over Oklahoma and Troy. It will be the Razorbacks’ first game out of the state this season.

Seton Hall is 3-3, but the Pirates will be without leading scorer Jeremy Hazell (24.0 ppg), who suffered a wrist injury earlier this month in a win over Alabama.

“I think they’ve played well at times and obviously they’re going to get better with that as time goes by,” Pelphrey said. “It’s pretty difficult to replace 24 points a game, though.”

The game will be the first of two inside Freedom Hall on Wednesday. Kentucky and Notre Dame will follow.

For more visit WholeHogSports.com. You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.

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Ford Returns at Touchdown Club

Arkansas
Content provided by The Slophouse.

FAYETTEVILLE - Former Arkansas coach Danny Ford will speak at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club on Wednesday. Lunch begins at 11 a.m. with the program following at noon. The touchdown club meets at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Springdale.

Ford, who was fired from the school in 1997, has made only three trips back to the state since his coaching tenure. His last trip was for the announcement of the Burlsworth Trophy in August, named for former Arkansas player Brandon Burlsworth. Ford is one of the members for that trophy’s board.

The club will also honor the area’s player of the year, coach of the year and newcomer of the year, which will be presented by ARpreps.com.

Player of the year finalists are Fayetteville quarterback Brandon Allen, Springdale Har-Ber offensive tackle Brey Cook and Shiloh Christian quarterback Kiehl Frazier. Allen and Cook are both committed to Arkansas, while Frazier is committed to Auburn.

West Fork coach Rodney Selph will be given the coach of the year award after helping lead his team to an 11-3 record and an appearance in the Class 3A state semifinals.

Bentonville running back Tearris Wallace will be given the newcomer of the year award. Wallace rushed for five touchdowns in his team’s win over Fayetteville last week in the Class 7A State Championship Game in Little Rock.

Tickets for club members are $15 at the door. Tickets for non-members are $25.

For more visit WholeHogSports.com. You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.

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Smith, McGee Familiar with Ohio State

Arkansas
Content provided by The Slophouse.

FAYETTEVILLE - When Arkansas meets Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, a pair of Razorbacks coaches will get a chance at retribution

Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee and special teams coordinator John L. Smith each spent four years coaching in the Big Ten prior to their arrival at Arkansas. McGee was a position coach and offensive coordinator at Northwestern from 2004-07, while Smith was the head coach at Michigan State from 2003-06.

Though the two went a combined 1-7 during their tenures against the Buckeyes, the familiarity should help in preparation for the Jan. 4 game.

“The memories come back of how they execute and what their style is, and you take those things and present them,” said Smith, now in his second season at Arkansas. “Things haven’t changed, even though some schemes might be a little different. Basically they’re going to play the same. They’re not going to do a billion things. They’re going to be very disciplined and very physical.”

Smith, who also serves as the Razorbacks inside linebackers coach, said Big Ten ball is different than the style played in the Southeastern Conference. Much of that, he said, has to do with the colder climate in the northern states.

“They pride themselves in run the football, run the football, run the football,” Smith said. “I think it’s more of a wide-open game in the SEC. I think the people in the SEC pride themselves on speed, speed, speed, as to where back in the Big Ten they pride themselves in muscle, muscle, muscle.”

That doesn’t mean the “Big Ten is slower” stereotype is true.

“I coached in the Big Ten for four years so I know about (Ohio State),” McGee said. “They run different schemes, but they have athletes on the SEC level.

“You hear people say that the Big Ten is slow, but I know exactly about the speed they have. They will be athletic and fast. Anyone who thinks they are slow is wrong.”

The two coaches’ histories with Jim Tressel go back further than just their days in the Big Ten. McGee (Northern Iowa) and Smith (Montana) were assistants in Division I-AA (now FCS) while Tressel was a four-time national championship winning coach at Youngstown State.

“It wasn’t a good result,” Smith said. “He beat us then, too.

“Coach Tressel does a great job. I don’t think he’s going to give his kids a million and one things to do. They’re going to keep things as simple as they can, but those kids are going to be very disciplined and execute the things they’ve been taught to execute. They’re going to pride themselves on being good enough to beat you one-on-one.”

Arkansas’ resources aren’t limited to just Smith and McGee. Illinois offensive coordinator Paul Petrino and tight ends coach Chip Long each spent the previous two seasons with the Razorbacks. Paul Petrino is the younger brother of Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino.

The Buckeyes beat the Fighting Illini 24-13 earlier this season.

“I’ll try to get as much as I can from Paul,” Bobby Petrino said Sunday. “Certainly they spent an entire week preparing for (Ohio State), but they also watched them throughout the year. You learn a lot about a team when you watch them play the other opponents you’re trying to prepare for.”

For more visit WholeHogSports.com. You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.

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Six Hogs Earn AP All-SEC

Arkansas
Content provided by The Slophouse.

FAYETTEVILLE - Six Arkansas players earned first- or second-team all-SEC honors Monday, as voted on by the Associated Press.

Tight end D.J. Williams, running back Knile Davis and offensive tackle DeMarcus Love were voted to the first-team, while quarterback Ryan Mallett, defensive end Jake Bequette and safety Tramain Thomas were voted to the second team. Williams, a senior who is also a finalist for the Mackey Award, was a unanimous selection.

“It means a lot,” Williams said. “A lot of postseason accolades and awards have started coming out and it goes back to hard work, not just in the summer, but from the first time I stepped foot on this campus. I’m very humbled about it and appreciative of it.”

The Mackey Award winner will be announced on Wednesday in Orlando. While there, Williams will also be presented the Disney Spirit Award.

“It’s going to be a fun experience,” Williams said. “The greatest part about it is my family has never been to Disney World. It will be their first time and I feel like I get to take them, like the man of the family. It’s something I’m very proud of.”

Love, a fifth-year senior, was a preseason all-SEC selection, but Davis was the one who turned the most heads this season. After Arkansas struggled to run the ball effectively when Dennis Johnson went down with a season-ending injury, Davis began to get most of the workload.

Davis responded with as impressive of a season as any back in the league, rushing for 889 yards and 12 touchdowns in the final six games alone.

Mallett was the preseason pick at quarterback, but finished second to Heisman Trophy front-runner Cam Newton. The Razorbacks signal caller passed for 3,592 yards and tied his school record with 30 touchdowns in the regular season.

For more visit WholeHogSports.com. You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.

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Petrino Joins BCS Short List

Arkansas
Content provided by The Slophouse.

FAYETTEVILLE - If you had any doubt Bobby Petrino was an elite college football coach, there should be little doubt anymore.

The third-year Arkansas coach has the Razorbacks in a BCS bowl for the first time in school history. In doing so, Petrino – who won the Orange Bowl at Louisville in 2006 – joins Nick Saban (LSU, Alabama) and Urban Meyer (Utah, Florida) as the only coaches to earn BCS bids with two different programs.

“We know a lot about Coach Petrino because he was up this direction at Louisville and had some fabulous football teams,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Sunday. “He did some extraordinary things in the Big East. We know the quality of that.”

Year three has become the bar for coaches to get their program to a BCS bowl. Saban, Meyer, Les Miles (LSU), Mark Richt (Georgia) and Gene Chizik (Auburn) are SEC coaches who have done so.

Meyer, Tressel and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops won the national championship in their second year at their respective schools. This year’s national championship game features two second-year coaches in Chizik and Oregon’s Chip Kelly.

While Arkansas has yet to make it to that level, the Razorbacks were one of the best teams in a conference that perennially puts its champion in the national title game. That bodes well for the future as long as Petrino stays at the school. The UA must lock the coach into a long-term deal following the season – or even perhaps before the bowl game – as other schools are sure to be intrigued by the Razorbacks’ success.

It’s a testament to the improvement made under the current coaching staff and the quality of leadership it has. From 5-7 to 8-5, to 10-2, Petrino and his staff have proven their worth and ability in the right time.

For more visit WholeHogSports.com. You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.

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UA Bowl Tickets Sold Out

Arkansas
Content provided by The Slophouse.

FAYETTEVILLE - The University of Arkansas has already sold out its allotment of 17,500 tickets for the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4.

The school received more than 24,000 pre-orders during a two-week span. Donors to the school’s athletic foundation and season-ticket holders should all receive tickets to the game, according to a press release, but all others will likely be left out in the cold.

“The demand for tickets to the Allstate Sugar Bowl has been far greater than the tickets we were allotted by the bowl game,” Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long said in a release. “We appreciate the tremendous response from the Razorback fans.”

No tickets are listed for sale on the Sugar Bowl’s official website, though several online ticket sites such as StubHub.com have tickets listed for the game.

For more visit WholeHogSports.com. You can follow Matt Jones on Twitter @NWAMatt.

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