Sports in Arkansas and Podunk Russia: Real War, Fake War & the Real Money of Both

Arkansas is not so unlike Dagestan.

Both are southern, predominantly rural states/republics in much, much bigger nations – Arkansas in the United States, Dagestan in Russia.

Both have just under 3 million people, and about 90% of those people believe in monotheism – Christianity in Arkansas, Islam in Dagestan.

These places also tend to be stereotyped as backwater by the big-city fancy pants of their respective nations. But not when it comes to sports, where football rules in either area – a la American in Arkansas, soccer in Dagestan. Natives of both places, less wealthy and educated than most other areas in their nations, through this game can notch instant, vicarious respect in their nation’s cultural consciousness.

You’d better believe plenty Arkies inwardly nodded and smiled when an acclaimed columnist of the world’s largest sports outlet tabbed the Razorbacks as this season’s college football champions.

And I’m thinking more than just a few Dagestanis pressed the internal “like” button when they heard recent news that in Arkansas football terms would translate to something like this:  Heisman hopefuls Andrew Luck and Dont’a Hightower are transferring to the University of Arkansas, and the NCAA has granted immediate eligibility to play for the Hogs. That’s the kind of impact expected from landing possibly the best player in the sport, as Dagestan’s biggest soccer club did by signing soccer superstar Samuel Eto’o to one of the richest contracts in sports history. He gives the club a legitimate shot at upending the Russian League big boys from Moscow and St. Petersburg.

But here’s where all that similarity talk collapses.

Most Arkansans are poor in American terms, while most Dagestanis are poor in Russian terms. That’s a world of difference.

Look closer and you’ll find Dagestan more  resembles the guerilla war-torn Ozarks circa 1860s than anything like modern Arkansas.

With its mountainous terrain, the area is a hodgepodge of various ethnic groups and a breeding ground of myriad religious tensions often erupting into violence and terrorism. Most Arkansans, unlike Dagestanis, don’t belong to one tribe or another. They don’t have to worry about rampant governmental corruption, a flourishing black market and a clan-based economic system stunting their homeland’s development.

As football season churns up locally, I am reminded of the stark differences between these two areas of the world and how those differences are magnified by their most popular sports.
Continue reading Sports in Arkansas and Podunk Russia: Real War, Fake War & the Real Money of Both

Razorback assistants discuss possibility of Hogs playing with pros and preps in a summer fundraiser

At the Little Rock Razorback club meeting, I was able to ask Razorbacks assistant coaches Matt Zimmerman and T.J. Cleveland about the idea I floated in this week’s Sync column for an NCAA-sanctioned summer basketball event involving high school, college and pro players. There is currently no summer league (or summer tournament) in which current college players are allowed to play, although Scotty Thurman said that Little Rock’s Dunbar Recreational Center used to have such a league.

My essential point in the piece was that the fame of college players, especially Razorbacks (even Razorback recruits) can be leveraged for a good cause: a fundraiser game.

Central Arkansas doesn’t have enough NBA players living in the area to support a multi-month league with the talent of a Bluff City Classic. Instead, when it comes to drumming up public interest, focus should be given to the players at elite Division I colleges and the high school players likely to be joining them. If you made an effort to see David Rivers (Nebraska), A.J. Walton (Baylor), or Jamal Jones (Ole Miss) star at local high schools, you likely still want to see them play. Especially if they take the court with some of the area’s best current prep players — guys like Archie Goodwin (Kentucky, Arkansas recruit), I.J. Ready (Nebraska signee) and Bobby Portis and Dederick Lee (Razorbacks signees).

By charging admission to a gym the size of North Little Rock High or Hall High, thousands of dollars could be raised for something like obesity prevention or diabetes awareness. Moreover, a non-profit association affiliated with those causes could give halftime speeches and pass out literature along with game tickets. Finally, the players responsible for drawing such large crowds would have satisfaction in knowing they’re essentially volunteering their time and abilities to help others.

Razorback assistants Matt Zimmerman and T.J. Cleveland said they’re for anything that helps their players sharpen skills against good competition within NCAA rules – fundraiser tournament included. Zimmerman, a former Missouri assistant coach, said some of his Mizzou players played in a summer league with pros in Kansas City, and that helped them tremendously.

The major problem boils down to college players’ availability if  they were allowed to play in such an event in central Arkansas. Even if the event was only a 2-day tournament, coordinating everybody’s schedule could be an issue. Especially since two summer terms of classes mean a lot of the Razorback players have two weeks away from campus during the summer.

Still, I have to believe if you’re a true baller, you make this happen. Especially if it means getting the chance to play in the same game – in front of thousands of fans – with a guy like Joe Johnson, Sonny Weems or whoever the hot-shot high schooler of the moment is.

In North Little Rock, Blake Eddins lets loose; Mike Anderson discusses Hog freshmen

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Preaching to the Faithful

Mike Anderson and former Razorbacks Pat Bradley, Ernie Murry, Blake Eddins, Sunday Adebayo and Scotty Thurman were some of the featured guests at Thursday night’s Little Rock Razorback club dinner at the Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock.

Blake Eddins let loose in his introductory speech, and delivered some gems. Following are choice excerpts.

He opened talking about Nolan’s ouster nearly a decade ago and his reaction when he discovered the powers-that-be weren’t yet ready to make Anderson his permanent replacement:

I was junior on the team the year Coach Richardson got fired. When that happened the team kind of went into scramble mode. The team had a meeting and for some reason wanted me to the spokesperson to the press. So I go out as this idiot 21-year-old and am thinking “Oh, we got this.” I talked to the press. You know, ‘God bless America and all that good stuff.

I leave that deal thinking “Man, I think we’re gonna get this deal, it’s gonna be great.” I find out the next day [the Anderson hiring is] not gonna happen and go to Coach Anderson. I got tears in my eyes. I love the guy. And all I keep saying is ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry coach.’ And Coach A kind of grabbed me by my shoulders and doesn’t blink, doesn’t anything. And in his wonderful, sometimes third-person dialect he said ‘Blake, you don’t worry about Mike Anderson. Mike Anderson’s gonna be fine. Mike Anderson and his family are gonna go get a good job. Mike Anderson’s gonna win some damn ballgames.”

On the legacies of Mike Anderson, Norm Stewart and Nolan Richardson

He won 100 games faster than anybody in Missouri basketball history. He’s got the best winning percentage of anybody in Missouri basketball history. That’s better than Norm Stewart who I think went to a couple of Elite Eights but for some reason has his name on the court. We’ve got a coach who won a national championship and went to a few Final Fours and can’t get his name on a napkin

On Rotnei Clarke

Through all of this, Coach Anderson has never complained. He’s been the same Mike Anderson that recruited me and recruited some of ya’ll. He’s been humble, he’s gone to work and everything. He didn’t complain once, he didn’t pout. He dad didn’t call a CBSSports.com writer and say he’s gonna transfer to Gonzaga if he didn’t get his way and all that good stuff.

On Mike vs. Stan

Mike Anderson does everything faster than everybody else. He eats faster, he goes to sleep faster, he fouls you in pickup than anybody you’ll ever play. What was ya’ll’s flight [from Fayetteville] down here? Thirty-six minutes? Something like that. Seven years ago, same flight, same pilot, same plane, same everything – took Stan Heath two hours and 18 minutes. He had to eat something, stop in Russellville and refuel.

Listen to all Eddins’ speech here: Blake Eddins in NLR

Mike Anderson didn’t quite let it fly like Eddins. But the night’s main attraction did offer insight into the new team after three days of workouts. He said it will take time for this team to develop the stamina for his trademark up-tempo game, but the process has certainly begun with 6 a.m. workouts:

We have two hours a week we can do individual workouts with them, so we’ll put these guys through some individual instruction in the 20 to 30 minute slots four days a week … trust me, we can do a whole lot in 30 minutes. We had a couple guys who five minutes into the workout went to the garbage can to puke. And I mean throw it up, literally throwing up and that’s just individual workouts so you can imagine as we get prepared for the conditioning part of it. Like I said, it’s gonna be up-tempo and in your face.

The phrase used to be ’40 Minutes of Hell.’ [With Mizzou] I just just had a nicer version. I called it the fastest 40 minutes. But coming in here with the team that we’ve inherited, I told people “‘Watch out. I might be more like ’15 Minutes of Hell’ and ’25 Minutes of ‘What the Hell are We Doing?'” It’s gonna be a work in progress, but the more we do it, the better we get after it.

Here’s his take on those highly-recruited freshmen:

1) Rashad “Ky” Madden – Anderson loves his energy and effort, but claims he’s 6-6. Unless, kid’s gone on an incredible summer growth spurt, this may be pushing it. When I saw Madden in late May, he was more in 6-4 range. But Anderson’s assessment that he “needs to put some meat on him” is certifiably true.

2) Hunter Mickelson –

He’s put on 25 pounds since he’s been up there, so you’re talking about a guy who’s worked hard this summer. I just like his versatility, he’s a guy who not only works inside he can’t step outside. So as he picks up the speed and strength of the game, I think you’re gonna see a guy who can really help us. [Mickelson, whose father is from Minnesota, last year told me he considers Kevin Garnett the player after which he most tries to pattern his game.]

3) B.J. Young –

He’s a guy that’s gonna score. He figures no one’s gonna stop him from scoring. And he probably has never seen a shot he didn’t like, but the thing I like about him is he’s got a winning attitude. He will fight you and fight you and fight you. And I think we need that.

4) Devonta Abron –

He’s picked up probably 10 pounds. He’s 6-8 and has solidified himself. He’s a left-handed kid but one thing I like about him is he don’t mind banging. I like guys who have aggressiveness and I like guys with toughness and I think that’s what those guys bring to the table.

5) Aaron Ross – Anderson wasn’t allowed to comment on Ross, who enrolled at a Wisconson prep school after failing to academically qualify for the University of Arkansas.

Listen to Anderson’s entire speech here: Mike Anderson in NLR

You’d better believe a whole mess of reporters and cameras gathered round ‘Ol Mike at this one. Here’s proof:

1. KARK films Mike talking to media

2. Powelling around with wholehogsports.com

3. Pat Bradley, Mike talk to KATV

One-on-one with Solo

Every time one person interviews another person whose name is Solo for a blog post, you already know at the least the title is taken care of. Fortunately, Solomon “Solo” Bozeman, basketball’s reigning Sun Belt Player of Year, is interesting enough to make delving into the following post itself worth your while:

Bozeman, of course, is the guy who in one magical net-swishing March moment lifted UALR from 20 years of NCAA Tournamentlessness to the quasi-promise land  of Dayton, Ohio. The star Trojan guard would soon afterward end his career with 18 points in March Madness‘ opener against UNC-Charlotte, an overtime game from which he fouled out before regulation ended.

Although his eligibility is gone, Bozeman still keeps his skills sharp playing with Trojans.

This summer, he played in Dunbar Community Center’s summer basketball league with the likes of former UALR players Mark Green, Darius Eason, Nick Zachary and Bozeman’s classmate Derrick Bails. Their team, “Too Fast, Too Furious,” lost in the playoffs but Bozeman contends they would have done better had he played in a higher percentage of the team’s 16 games.

But training and school limited him to six games, said Bozeman, who’s taking nine hours this fall to finish a UALR master’s degree in sports management.

The classes are online in case his agent, Ben Pensack, helps land him a gig playing in Europe or the NBDL this fall.

Bozeman has tried to stay ready. Along with summer league ball and individual training, Bozeman spent a week in New York City in June training under former NBA All-Star Butch Beard. He said he enjoyed twice-daily skills development sessions alongside former Notre Dame forward Carleton Scott.

Bozeman isn’t the only recent UALR grad with an eye on Europe. He said Bails leaves September 7th to play on a traveling team in Great Britain and France, but didn’t have any more specifics. He added former UALR star forward Shane Edwards left last week for Verona in  northeastern Italy to play in that nation’s second-best league. Edwards will join Mario West (Georgia Tech), Jeff Trepagnier (USC) and a surprisingly large Sri Lankan immigrant population.

Still throwing it out there: Who’s the best receiver in central Arkansas history?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRR3SzlCYms&w=560&h=345]

Who became Arkansas’ prep sports version of Bill Brasky? Read on to find out.

 

During research for my latest Sync piece about the best wide receiver in central Arkansas history, I realized that generational biases always distort these kind of “best-of” questions. Reasons include:

1) Every modern generation feels like it’s athletically superior to last one, and given the rate at which technology improves I think this is measurably true.

2) That technology means the exploits of today’s best athletes – think LeBron James, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Nadal – are continually foisted into our faces via TV and online clips. Past generations had their own stunnning athletes – Jim Thorpe, Babe Zaharias, Jack Johnson – but the modern sportsfan has to go work to get a full sense of their abilities. With increasing hassle, ways to do this include: a) going through the trouble of clicking on their wikipedia pages b) going through the trouble of paying for a Netflix subscription to watch some grainy documentary footage c) actually reading a book.

3. Finally, and I think this is the most interesting point of all: The game itself changes through the decades, and what may qualify as “the best” in one generation may not apply to another generation. Per this debate, the game of football has changed drastically in the last 100 years. As in warfare itself, the primary ground attacks of the 1910s look hopelessly antiquated in a world full of  Apache helicopters, stealth bombers and Timmy Chang.

Dave McCollum of the Conway’s Log Cabin Democrat says it well in the Sync article:

Choosing a best is difficult because the offenses now, and consequently the receiving opportunities, have changed so much — from the receiver being an emergency afterthought to a primary weapon.

No kidding about that primary weapon point.

Look at nearly any passing record kept by the Arkansas Activities Association and you’ll find Pulaski Academy and Shiloh Christian essentially camping out in that record’s Top 10. These two pass-happy privates school programs share the following number of records:

  • 10 of 10 – Most Passing Yards in a Season
  • 9 of 10 – Most Passing Yards in a Game
  • 9 of 10 – Most Passing Yards in a Season
  • 7 of 10 – Most Career Passing Touchdowns
  • 7 of 10 – Most Passing Touchdowns in a Season
  • 7 of 10 – Most Passing TDs in a Game

It’s no surprise, then, that central Arkansas’ most successful receiver – statistically – was a Bruin.  Pulaski Academy’s Brian Langford caught for 3, 141 yards from 2004-06 (5th most in state history). As a senior, Langford caught for  1,950 yards, second-most in state history.

Behind in him on that list is another Bruin, Blake Miller, who played 2000-02. Miller had 45 career touchdowns, the most ever of any central Arkansas receiver. Like Neal Barlow, another prolific Bruin receiver, Miller and Langford both became Razorbacks. But no Bruin has yet developed on the college level to accomplish anything close to what the likes of Derek Russell, Emanuel Tolbert and Ken Kavanaugh did after high school.

Joe Adams put up prolific numbers in high school, and has backed it up at a high level in college.

So, what of that generational bias?

A full half of those reading the first Sync piece about greatest wide receivers voted for Joe. Hutson followed with 17% of the vote, while Jackson got 14%.

That goes against the consensus of  the sports media and coach experts I consulted with – guys mostly in their 50s and older – who went with Keith Jackson, Emanuel Tolbert and Don Hutson over the new kind on the block.

Still, my hunch is that if this were a mail-in ballot (say, through the sports section of the Democrat-Gazette) there would be much higher percentages for these relative old-timers.

Online polls are the only means I have right now, which means in the near future “best-of” vote results will likely always lean toward the youngest generation. I may need to lasso in older generations who still swear by paper reading/TV watching as their primary news source to truly even the playing field.

As a parting note, I leave you with a reminder of Keith Jackson’s greatness. Simply because I can.

Talk to those who saw Keith Jackson play at Parkview High and it doesn’t take long. Honorifics — “monster,” “unbelievable,” “force of nature” — start flowing nearly as fast as the man himself on the gridiron. Or the court, for that matter. Football and basketball star Jackson, after all, was the Bill Brasky of Arkansas’ early 1980s prep sports.

“Keith was a freak to be that big and that fast,” said Wally Hall, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s sports editor. “Joe’s not even close to Keith Jackson.”

It surprised many when Jackson, along with the likes of Rickey Williams and James Rouse, failed to complete a perfect season in 1983, losing to Fort Smith Southside 9-6 in the Class AAAA state championship game. But the Parade All-American later made up for that loss in college. He helped Oklahoma win the 1985 NCAA championship, then straight Bill Brasky-ized the entire nation. In consecutive consensus All-America seasons, he averaged nearly 29 and 28 yards per catch, and for good measure finished as a celebrity slam dunk contest runner up to a world champion triple jumper.

Old-school pics here.

Is Joe Adams the best ever receiver from central Arkansas?

He’s flash, he’s dash, he’s sizzle, smoke and more.

Joe Adams, the consummate Razorback receiver and big-play Poobah seems to have it all. The quicksilver senior accelerates into this season coming off his best year yet, punctuated by a 9-catch performance against Ohio State in January’s Sugar Bowl that ties for fourth-most in UA history. With five career 100-yard games under his belt, also fourth all-time, he will likely capture a few career records this season. Don’t forget about his proficient punt returns, either. With an average of 15.56 yards, Adams finished second in the SEC last season.

As good as Adams is, does he rank as the best ever from central Arkansas?

Warning: when wading into such all-time debates, one risks getting lost in a forest of parameters (e.g. What exactly is central Arkansas? We talking wide receivers only?).

Those are questions to tackled soon enough. But first the fun part. Below are some top candidates for this title, with experts’ input.

For rare photos of these guys circa high school, check this original version published in Sync magazine.

Joe Adams

– 5-11, 175 pounds

– As a high school sophomore, scored eight TDs as quarterback and receiver at Parkview. Transferred to Central Arkansas Christian, and rushed 75 times for 857 yards and 14 TDs as a junior. He caught 29 passes for 633 yards and nine TDs. As a senior, he caught 33 passes for 770 yards and scored a total of 25 TDs. Rivals.com ranked him as the No. 2 prospect in Arkansas; Scout.com tabbed him as the nation’s No. 8 cornerback.

Wally Hall, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette sports editor: “Joe came back from a stroke as a sophomore [in college]. His mental toughness is off the charts. He’s quick, elusive, got running back eyes …. if you’re going strictly with receivers, Joe’s a cut above.”

CBSSports.com projects Adams as the 21st-best receiver in the 2012 NFL Draft, 16 spots behind Arkansas teammate Greg Childs.

Derek Russell

– 6-1, 180 pounds

– A track and football superstar at Little Rock Central in the mid 1980s, the hyperversatile Russell’s exploits are the stuff of legend. In the first hurdles event of his life, he set the state’s overall 110-meter high hurdles mark with a 13.4 clocking. That record still stands. As a junior, he caught 20 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns, but Central’s coaches moved him to tailback his senior season to spearhead their I-formation attack. He racked up 723 yards on 131 carries and 298 yards on 16 catches for nine total touchdowns, and led Central to a state championship.

Bernie Cox, LR Central High football coach of 35 years : “Because of foot speed, strength and what they ended up accomplishing in college and the pros, Derek Russell and Keith Jackson are in there close to the top.”

Russell became possibly the most elusive receiver in Razorback history. As a freshman, he averaged 18.6 yards per catch and set a UA single season record by upping that to 26.4 yards as a sophomore. His production dipped as a junior (17 catches), but he finished strong as a senior, snagging 43 passes for 897 yards and eight touchdowns.

Russell played seven seasons in the NFL. His best was with Denver in 1993, when he finished ninth in the league with a 16.3 yards per reception average.

Brendan Cook

-6-1, 180 pounds

-The name, forgotten by many, conjures thoughts of what might have been. As a junior at Little Rock Catholic High School, Cook caught 27 passes for 456 yards. As a senior, he caught 34 passes for 786 yards and earned Super Prep and Street & Smith’s All-America honors. Cook chose Arkansas over Notre Dame, but early in college struggled through personal issues and injuries. As a redshirt freshman in 1990, he caught one pass – a 16-yarder against SMU. In January 1991, he was found dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Robert Farrell

-The 6-4 wideout burst into the state spotlight in 1974, when he gained nearly 160 yards in a highly anticipated matchup against #1 Parkview at Quigley Stadium, Bernie Cox said. Although Central lost that game in front of more than 10,000 people, Farrell’s established a reputation that helped garner Parade All-America honors a year later.

Wadie Moore, longtime Arkansas Gazette prep sports editor: “Probably the slowest guy of all, but he had great hands. He never dropped it.” (n.b. In college, Farrell ran a 4.6 40-yard dash)

Wally Hall: “A great possession receiver, great hops, great hands.”
As a Razorback, Farrell saved his best for last. An all-SWC selection as a senior, he snared 21 passes for 401 yards. A pivotal TD catch against Baylor in the 1979 homecoming game helped propel Arkansas toward the 1980 Sugar Bowl. After failing to make the Los Angeles Rams, Farrell briefly worked as a grad assistant under Arkansas coach Lou Holtz.
In an upcoming post, I’ll examine the merits of other top candidates for this position. Guys like Oklahoma’s Keith Jackson, SMU’s Emanuel Tolbert, LSU’s Ken Kavanaugh and Alabama’s Don Hutson (Hutson is for those of you who think Pine Bluff is central Arkansas).
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Rock Steady: Archie Goodwin and Jarnell Stokes slay Team Canada’s 7-feet-4 Goliath

When it counted most, Archie Goodwin came up big.
The high recruited Little Rock guard led an assortment of all-American caliber players to the title of the Nike Global Challenge on Sunday night, and did so in assertive fashion.
With swooping layups, dunks, feathery runners, and jumpers of nearly every distance, the rising senior scored 11 points in the pivotal fourth quarter of his USA Midwest team’s 99-94 win against Team Canada in Oregon.
The US team trailed 81-78 going into the last quarter, but Goodwin and Jarnell Stokes helped them claw back into the game. Goodwin hit four of five field goal attempts, including a layup, dunk, 15-foot jumper, and two runners, while Stokes battled the 7-4 Sim Bhullar inside.
Early in the quarter, Stokes showed the ruggedness that makes him one of the most highly recruited post players of the class of 2012, as he bulled baseline for a Carmelo Anthonyesque layup. Although Bhullar did block one of Stokes’ later interior shots, Stokes still helped Goodwin ice the game from the free throw line in the last minutes.
Goodwin made three of four free throws, missing his last attempt with his team up 95-91 with 21 seconds to go.
But he scrambled to the ball, stripped it from the lumbering Bhullar’s meaty paws and managed to fling it back into play despite falling out of bounds. Teammate Terry Rozier caught it, and made two free throws to essentially end it.
As the tourney’s waning seconds ticked down, Goodwin threw the ball high into the air and excitedly clapped hands with his teammates and coach.
His summer, riddled by injury and disappointing losses, ended on the brightest possible note.

The Nike Global Challenge is an 8-team, 12-game tournament featuring the top high school talent and best U19 players from international teams. Below are the stats of Goodwin and Stokes in their three wins:

USA Midwest 103, Germany 58
Stokes: 15 points on 6-12 field goals, 3-4 free throws, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 0 turnovers
Goodwin: 6 points on 3-8 FGs (0-2 3pts), 0-0 FTs, 1 reb, 3 assists, 3 stls, 3 TOs

USA Midwest 121, USA East 101
Stokes: 0 points on 0-1 FGs, 0-2 FTs, 14 rebs, 1 ast, 1 blk, 1 TO
Goodwin: 23 points on 11-19 FGs (1-5 3pts), 0-0 FTs, 1 ast, 0 TO

USA Midwest 99, Canada 94
Stokes: 13 points on 5-8 FGs, 3-4 FTs, 8 rebs,  2 TOs
Goodwin: 23 points on 9-15 FGs (2-4 3pts), 3-4 FTs, 4 rebs, 1 ast, 3 stls, 4 TOs

Tournament highlight video available here.

Friday Sports Sear

Zoom-Out

Football leads to more nonfatal, heat-related emergency room visits than any other activity in the United States, according to a report issued last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And this summer, like in all summers, the heat has claimed lives, too.  

 

Disturbingly detailed breakdown of SEC team ranks and All-America picks in all major preseason polls

In these parts, it’s practically an annual epidemic.

The ice cream has melted, and the milk’s gone sour.

Yes, daddy did it again.

Nearing the end of a dutiful grocery trip, he dared walk through the magazine aisle, convinced he possessed the steely resolve to sneak no more than a glance at its glorious collection of preseason college football issues.

Pfffh. Yeah, right.

Forgetful football fanatics, rejoice.

This summer, help is here for you and your poor, gagging kinfolk. Ever at your service, the Sports Seer has scoured the best parts of those glossy stat-filled sirens so you don’t have to.

I’ve targeted each mag’s Top 5, the SEC teams in the Top 25, and the Razorbacks and Tide selected by outlets releasing preseason All-America teams. I’ve even thrown in a few online outlets for good measure and poll compilations for good measure.

Just know most of these publications prognosticated in April or May, after spring practices wrapped. Some notable stuff has happened since then, such as Ohio State’s program combusting.

Big Papa AP poll is coming down the slide, but you’ll have to wait until August 20th until splashdown. In the meantime, here are other batches of speculatory crack cocaine to tide you over.

Lindy’s

1. Oklahoma
2. Alabama
3. Oregon
4. LSU
5. Florida State

10. Arkansas
11. South Carolina
16. Georgia
20. Florida
21. Mississippi State
24. Auburn

— Eight SEC Teams in Top 25

— Alabama players* make up five of the eleven SEC players selected to first and second All-America teams; Knile Davis: Second team All-America

* I tallied Alabama preseason All-America selections b/c that program seems to have set the standard this summer. 

Sporting News

1. LSU
2. Oklahoma
3. Alabama
4. Stanford
5. Oregon

11. Arkansas
15. Mississippi State
19. South Carolina
21. Auburn

— Six SEC Teams in Top 25

— Alabama had three of the ten SEC players on first and second All-America teams; Joe Adams and Knile Davis, the “most underrated player in the country”: third team All-Americans.

Athlon Sports

1. Alabama
2. Oklahoma
3. Oregon
4. Florida State
5. Boise State

8. LSU
14. Georgia
16. Arkansas
18. Florida
21. South Carolina

— Six SEC teams in Top 25

— Alabama had three of the ten SEC players selected to first and second All-America teams

— Knile Davis, on the Heisman Trophy watch list: Second team; Jake Bequette: Third team

Phil Steele’s

1. Alabama
2. Oklahoma
3. Boise State
4. Oregon State
5. Virginia Tech

7. LSU
9. Georgia
13. Arkansas
14. South Carolina

— Five SEC teams in Top 25

— Alabama had five of the 12 SEC players selected to first and second All-America teams (Bequette, Childs and Franklin: Third team, Adams: Fourth team)

Blue Ribbon

1. Oklahoma
2. Alabama
3. LSU
4. Stanford
5. Oregon

10. South Carolina
14. Arkansas
16. Georgia
21. Mississippi State

— Six SEC teams in Top 25

SI.com, Andy Staples

1. Oklahoma
2. Oregon
3. Alabama
4. LSU
5. Stanford

8. South Carolina
13. Arkansas
18. Auburn
22. Mississippi State

— Six SEC teams in the Top 25

CBSSports.com, Dennis Dodd

1. Oklahoma
2. Alabama
3. LSU
4. Oregon
5. Stanford

13. Arkansas
15. Auburn
17. South Carolina
20. Mississippi State
23. Georgia
25. Florida

— Eight SEC teams in the Top 25

ESPN.com, Mark Schlabach

1. Oklahoma
2. Alabama
3. Florida State
4. Oregon
5. LSU

11. Arkansas
17. Georgia
19. South Carolina
20. Florida
25. Mississippi State

— Seven SEC teams in Top 25

Man cannot live by one ESPN source alone. The following was slapped together by a 38-person panel of the Mothership’s finest statniks and talking heads:

ESPN’s College Football Live

1. Oklahoma
2. Alabama
3. Oregon
4. LSU
5. Boise State

8. South Carolina
12. Arkansas
18. Florida
21. Mississippi State
22. Auburn

— Seven SEC teams in the Top 25

USA Today Coaches Poll

1. Oklahoma
2. Alabama
3. Oregon
4. LSU
5. Florida

12. South Carolina
14. Arkansas
19. Auburn
20. Mississippi State
22. Georgia
23. Florida

-Eight SEC teams in Top 25

As usual, the SEC bestrides the nation like a chinstrapped Colossus. This season, though, the league appears deeper than usual. Because of the rise of South Carolina and Mississippi State, SEC sauce coats nearly a full third of the Top 25 lists of CBSSports.com and Lindy’s. Only the Cleveland, Ohio-based Phil Steele had fewer than six SEC teams in his Top 25.

Meanwhile, Arkansas steadily climbs toward the perennial Top-10 status it so craves. After being ranked between No. 16 and No. 21 in last season’s polls, its average ranking is around 13 this season.

Arkansas finished last season ranked No. 12 in the final Associated Press poll. It last finished that high in 1988.

For some of you stat geeks, the above numbers simply don’t quench an undying thirst for data. You want more, and you should know more is out there to be given. A few geniuses have taken the process a step farther – calculating preseason Top 25 ranks by compiling polls of various national publications. I present two below:

247Sports.com

This consensus poll extracts “votes” from the published polls of 15 websites and magazines. Teams ranked No. 1 get 25 points and so on down to one point for those ranked 25th.

1. Oklahoma, 367 points
2. Alabama, 349 points
3. LSU, 336 points
4. Oregon, 335 points
5. Florida State, 282 points
12. Arkansas, 206 points
13. South Carolina, 179 points
19. Mississippi State, 77 points
20. Georgia, 74 points
23. Auburn, 58 points
25. Florida, 52 points

— Eight SEC Teams in Top 25

Southeastern Conference office

For media days, the SEC sicced its infohounds on the pages of Athlon, Blue Ribbon, Kickoff, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and Sporting News. They dug up the following average national rankings by compiling those publications’ Top 25 polls.

1. Oklahoma, 1.57
2. Alabama, 1.71
3. Oregon, 3.71
4. LSU, 4.43
5. Boise State, 5.43

12. Arkansas, 12.57
13. South Carolina, 13.29
17. Georgia, 17.57
21. Florida, 22.71
23. Mississippi State, 23.14

Only seven SEC teams ranked in the Top 25?!!

C’mon, SEC office, you can self-promote better than this. Next season, save yourself some time and use 247Sports.com’s numbers.

Arkcentrism in the House

At least two Little Rock-based publications have churned out Top 25 rankings. Not surprisingly, Arkansas gets the most love in their pages.

Hooten’s Arkansas Football

1. Oklahoma
2. Alabama
3. LSU
4. Oregon
5. Boise State

8. Arkansas
12. South Carolina
14. Florida
17. Mississippi State
18. Auburn

— Seven SEC teams in Top 25

ArkansasSports360.com

1. Alabama
2. Oklahoma
3. LSU
4. Oregon
5. Florida State

10. Arkansas
13. South Carolina
17. Georgia
19. Mississippi State
22. Florida
24. Auburn

— Eight SEC teams in Top 25

For photos and a look at UCA’s preseason rankings, check out a previous edition of this article at