How Texas A&M stacks up to the SEC West in Recruiting Strength

You, me and that dude over there love ourselves some college football stats.

We rode that gravy train to all kinds of explication in the last blog post, which delved into how Arkansas’ perpetual lack of recruiting punch (relative to the SEC champions) is crimping the Razorbacks’ style, especially when it comes to beating Nick Saban.

But there’s no reason to stop at merely one article, not when there’s soooo much more data upon which we can get our geek on.

You want to see how all the SEC West teams stack up when it comes to recruiting oomph?

Below you’ll see a balls-out breakdown of how many four and five star recruits each SEC West program (including likely future member Texas A&M) has snagged in the last nine years, and how that correlates to the number of wins their program had in the following four seasons.

The topmost graph shows the average number of wins each of these programs had in successive four-year spans. There are less years in the spans closer to the present, because the top recruits are still playing out  their eligibility (some play beyond four years, although redshirting is less likely with four and five-star players).

Continue reading How Texas A&M stacks up to the SEC West in Recruiting Strength

Alabama versus Arkansas: A Statistical Breakdown of Recruiting

The venues, helmets and results stay the same.
All that changes, it seems, are the stitches on the back of their opponents’ jerseys.
By falling to Alabama 38-14, Arkansas lost its bid to join college football’s VIP club for the fifth time in three years. Forget Arkansas-LSU: that annual late-season showdown is always close, and the Hogs will win their fair share.
But the SEC money games which could catapult the Razorbacks into national title contention occur in the season’s first few weeks, and the Hogs have whiffed on Alabama the last three seasons, Florida in 2009 and Auburn in 2010.
Each time, there’s a recurring theme: Arkansas’ opponents unleash game changers with talent the Razorbacks simply can’t match.

Archie’s choice: Good win for Kentucky. How bad a loss for Arkansas?

Archie's still holding onto Kentucky after dropping Arkansas, Memphis, UConn and Kansas. photo credit: Sync magazine

Tuesday night, Archie Goodwin became the first commitment of Kentucky‘s class of 2012.

With the single single tap of a “Tweet” button, the prep basketball star elated thousands of Wildcats fans while crushing the hopes of those wanting him to commit to Memphis or Arkansas.  He told ESPN’s Dave Telep the choice was a “business decision,” a phrase reflecting his desire to prepare himself for the NBA and a belief Kentucky provides the best, and most efficient, platform for that.

Even before he begins his senior year of high school, though, the decision appears to have paid off in terms of boosting Goodwin’s personal brand. In the 16 hours following the 11 p.m. tweet,  Goodwin picked up about 2,000 Twitter followers.

Meanwhile, Arkansas Razorback fans lamented. Many hoped Goodwin would team with Rashad Madden and B.J. Young next year to form what would likely become one of the best back courts in program history. Some fans believe it’s still a possibility. Oral commitments are nonbinding, which allows a last-second change of mind before a recruit signs a letter of intent.

Austin Rivers, last year’s top prep recruit, took advantage of this to back out of a commitment to Florida and become a Blue Devil.

Still, the sheer amount of blue-blooded love flowing between Goodwin and Kentucky followers on Twitter makes his reneging seem doubtful.

If Goodwin does end up signing with Kentucky, he’ll go down as one of the biggest “what-ifs” in Arkansas basketball program history. It’s likely fans haven’t been this disappointed since Al Jefferson, the immensely talented big man from Mississippi, decided to declare for the 2004 NBA Draft rather than play for the Hogs.

Goodwin “is the biggest recruit Arkansas has ever lost on,” says Tim Cooper, prep basketball editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Which opens up a question of Goodwin’ competition for this designation.

So, who are the best in-state Arkansas  recruits to sign with other programs?

1. Keith Lee (West Memphis High School) Lee, a spindly 6-10, 190-pound power forward, helped West Memphis win a state-record 60 consecutive games and averaged 22.9 points and 17.6 rebounds his senior year (1980-1981). He was ranked as one of the nation’s best 15 players by Street and Smith’s magazine and pursued by schools such as UCLA, Louisville and Memphis State. Arkansas coach

Continue reading Archie’s choice: Good win for Kentucky. How bad a loss for Arkansas?

Who wins UCA vs. ASU?

Finally, it’s here.

The week we wash from our eyes the residue of an off-season deluge of stories touching on the fact that, yes, Arkansas State’s football head coach Hugh Freeze was depicted in the The Blind Side, one of 2009’s surprise hits.

That movie briefly shows the role Freeze played in the development of Michael Oher, who went from a homeless and traumatized boy to first round NFL draft pick. Freeze coached him at a  private high school in Memphis, soon after Oher had been adopted by a caring woman and her family.

But a central story-line this week concerns the new identity ASU’s program has adopted  under Freeze, and all the new fans its high-powered spread offense could win considering the unprecedented platform Saturday’s ASU-UCA game has been given.

As for the current fans, they’re already having plenty fun with the resurrection of this 95-year-old rivalry. It’s about time, too.

There are way too few games played between Division I programs in Arkansas, and kudos to the big wigs for making this one happen. I mean, what else besides heated in-state rivalry could inspire comparisons between UCA’s kicker to Frodo Baggins, or a recent Bears transfer to the Cheshire Cat? Something tells me Sun Belt opponent Florida Atlantic ain’t getting this kind of attention from the ASU faithful.

The game, to be played in Jonesboro, should be fun to watch. Going in, ASU holds advantages beyond its home field.

The school is a full-fledged member of the FBS (Division I-A) while UCA is an FCS (Division I-AA) program. ASU is allowed to grant scholarships to 85 players; UCA can give a maximum of 63 scholarships.

So, from a talent standpoint, ASU walks into this shootout with more ammunition.

Another problem for the the Bears: star senior quarterback Nathan Dick, a former Razorback who had been playing the best ball of his career early this season, was knocked out of Saturday’s loss to Sam Houston State with a concussion. His status against ASU is questionable.

{Since} If Dick can’t play, or isn’t effective, then sophomore Wynrick Smothers steps in. “~Im me~”, Smothers declares on his My Space profile, and indeed if Smothers is to be himself on Saturday, ASU will see a better athlete and more dangerous running threat than Dick. But the game will also be the inexperienced Smothers’ first start.

There is capable talent surrounding the quarterbacks, including running back Jackie Hinton (who is recovering from a hamstring injury) and wunderkind wide receiver Jesse Grandy, who starred at Ole Miss last year. An ankle injury kept star linebacker Frank Newsome from playing Saturday but he’s expected to return against ASU.

A final plus for the Bears, this one psychological: the last time these teams played, in 1997, UCA barely lost to ASU 36-35. UCA was then Division II and allowed only 36 scholarships for its football players.

So, yes, it walks into this match-up with significantly more talent.

But that should be offset by another ASU advantage. With its statewide broadcast, this game presents a perfect opportunity for Hugh Freeze to elevate his local reputation from “the coach who was in that Sandra Bullock movie” to “offensive mastermind” and in the process open doors to some of Arkansas’ better high school recruits. To take advantage of this exposure, look for Freeze to throw most – if not all – of his playbook at the Bears.

My prediction: ASU 48, UCA 28

What’s yours?

Score some movie tickets and T-shirt sweetness by leaving your best guess at

UCA Bears nearly beat one of nation’s best soccer teams

Louisville Athletics | Jeff Reinking

UCA men’s soccer team nearly toppled national power Louisville on Sunday.

One of the enduring hot topics of this college football season will be SEC expansion, and which team(s) may soon be joining the conference assuming the Aggies get in.

TV market, academic reputation, strength of football and basketball programs are all major criteria by which this next SEC members will be chosen. While soccer program strength isn’t a major factor, it’s still interesting to imagine what would happen if powerhouse teams from the Big East or ACC joined the SEC. Would the addition of a Maryland, Louisville, North Carolina State or North Carolina make the SEC more likely to sanction men’s soccer competition among its members?

If so, teams like Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama would likely have the initial advantage, considering those states’ large number of elite high school players relative to other SEC states and their U.S. Development Academy club teams.

At first glance, it seems the Arkansas Razorbacks’ hypothetical men’s soccer team would suffer from the relative lack of talent available in a small state like Arkansas. Its key would be capitalizing on the large number of talented players in Oklahoma and north Texas.

But here in real life world, there is only one Division I men’s soccer program in the state, and its success is in part determined by how many of those very same players it can pluck. UCA soccer is the southern-most team in the Missouri Valley Conference, one of the mid-major soccer conferences in the nation. Although only in its second full year of Division I, the Bears are slowly evolving into a regionally competitive program.

On Sunday, UCA traveled to Kentucky and lost 3-2 to a Louisville team ranked #2 in the nation, according to Soccer America  and College Soccer News. It was the second highest-ranked team any UCA sports program had ever faced, following a college baskeball game against #1 Kansas early in the 2009-10 season. UCA lost 94-44 that night and only led for two minutes of the game.

The soccer Bears led most of the match against Louisville, but had to play a man short for the final 26 minutes after Stephen Williams’ ejection following his second yellow card. The Cardinals scored with 56 seconds left.

Still, this is a major local soccer story. And it of course got swallowed by football coverage in local media outlets.

Nearly three thousand people watched the match, which more than doubles the previous attendance record for any UCA men’s match, according to UCA spokeperson Josh Goff. He added: “This might be topped soon, since we play at Creighton on Oct. 29 and they’re averaging about 4800 in their 6000-seat stadium in their two home games this season.”

Extras from Archie Goodwin interview: Nike, adidas and why it matters

Many media types rolled their eyes at the crazily colored uniforms the football teams of Georgia and Maryland wore last weekend.

Most of us long ago put away our East Bay catalogs. We can’t imagine trying to wear something hatched in a shroom-induced nightmare shared by Phil Knight and the Mad Hatter:

But if you get into the mind of a teenager, these uniforms can seem pretty sweet. Brand names, color, design – all this stuff can really matter when you’re a recruit in an increasingly image-saturated sports culture.

That’s something I had to remind myself when talking with high school senior Archie Goodwin, one of the nation’s most highly sought basketball recruits. Goodwin, of course, recently narrowed his list to Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis and Connecticut.

But I was most interested in the reasons he eliminated other top schools from consideration. Such reasons, after all, may provide insight into Goodwin’s priorities when assessing schools, and give clues to his eventual choice.

Here’s the breakdown:

Texas – “I did away with Texas simply because I didn’t feel like my relationship was strong enough with Coach Barnes. I can see myself playing for Texas but I didn’t feel comfortable with him as my coach.”

Missouri – “I talked to the assistant coaches all the time. Coach Tim Fuller is one of the coolest assistant coaches I’ve ever known, but as far as the head coach, I really didn’t know his name. I couldn’t tell you the head coach’s name. He talked to me on the phone, but Tim was the one that mostly called.”

Baylor – “Coach Scott Drew is a great guy. I love Coach Drew. They were one of the first schools that were recruiting me. But I didn’t  like that they were an adidas team, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t go to Kansas because Kansas is a great team.  I can look over the adidas thing – I own some adidas stuff. [Goodwin played recent summers with the Arkansas Wings Elite team, which is sponsored by Nike] I didn’t like their colors, either. I don’t like green and gold. That’s ugly …. When you got ugly colors like that, you gotta be Nike. …. Baylor has some ugly shoes, too.”

“On top of that, the one assistant coach I did really know – Coach Morefield, he moved on to doing something in the NBA so once they lost him I didn’t feel too comfortable with any other assistants on their team.”

“And then, I don’t like it that they play a 2-3 zone. I would rather play man[-to-man defense] than zone because you don’t play zone in the NBA. It’s 95% man.”

Check out of full Sync magazine interview here

I have read a lot of comments on multiple sites, especially Yahoo Rivals, attacking Goodwin as a person for the above statements. Most of the people making these nasty attacks seem to believe the only reason Goodwin chose to eliminate Baylor from contention was aesthetic concerns. This is obviously false, since he gave other reasons. It’s unfortunate that his comments were stripped from their original context on this blog, but I also understand that is an inherent risk with anything written online for public consumption.

My job isn’t to be an apologist, or promoter, for Goodwin. It’s simply to serve as a way for him to tell the world about the life of a modern elite college recruit. He’s done that, and done it well, for six Sync player’s diaries now. 

People who take the time to read these diaries, or listen to other Goodwin interviews online, will quickly realize he’s a personable, intelligent teenager. But he’s a teenager. In the spring, he was watching “SpongeBob” and “Fairly Odd Parents”. He likes to goof around. And yeah, he likes some colors and shoe styles over others.

Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, even those spewing ill-informed garbage all over major outlets’ comment sections. It’s a lot easier, after all, to form opinions without first going through the trouble of getting correct context and proper background information.

But it takes curiosity and intelligence to even understand when such effort is necessary. 

The Yahoo Rivals comment section shows those qualities are absent in a disturbingly large number of people. 

Judo master inducted into Hall of Fame at Little Rock ceremony

Dr. He-Young Kimm has done a lot in his 71 years.

The South Korean helped win the Seoul National High School Yudo (Korean Judo) Championships in 1958.

He became a marine lieutenant.

And in 1963, he arrived in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to teach Judo at a local college. He hardly spoke a lick of English, and was the first east Asian many people in his town had ever seen. Small kids, brimming with curiosity, followed him in the streets.

Kimm stayed in Missouri, eventually becoming one of the United States’ best Judo teachers. He’s visited dozens of nations and written eight books on Korean martial arts and philosophy.

But until Friday, he had never been inducted into a Multi-Ethnic Hall of Fame. That changed at the Arkansas ceremony of, well, the Multi-Ethnic Hall of Fame. This was the second time the international organization had been held in Little Rock, which is also headquarters of the worldwide American Taekwando Association.  (Kimm’s taekwando colleagues were partly responsible for the adopted Missourian’s inclusion into the Arkansas ceremony).

Check out Kimm’s induction speech below.