So, to shake things up, I’ve imagined delving into the future to find some of the most provocative stories of the year 2020, and I examined what 2011 events led to them.
In brief, I found what in nine years will turn out to be the biggest stories of 2011.
2. In 2011, Arkansas State University hired Gus Malzahn as its head football coach. Malzahn, an Arkansas native, had been an offensive coordinator at Arkansas and for Auburn’s 2010 national championship team.
In 2020 … After a dozen years as the state’s most popular public figure, Bobby Petrino retires as Razorbacks head coach. The Hogs had beaten Oklahoma State to win its long-awaited second national championship in 2016, the first year of a playoffs involving four superconferences. In 2017, Arkansas returned to the title game, losing to Alabama.
But in following years, the Hogs’ success tails off and Petrino appears increasingly stressed. The breaking point comes on his weekly coach’s show at a Fayetteville catfish joint, where cameras catch him mumbling obscenities into his tartar sauce for no apparent reason.
The next day, citing a need to “simply unwind” and “spend some quality time on the lake” with the grandchildren, he retires.
UA athletic director Jeff Long hires Malzahn, who in the span of nine years had built Arkansas State, then Tennessee, into perennial Top-25 programs.