TJ Carpenter: Hog Basketball Ends One Era, Begins Another With Release of Rotnei Clarke

by TJ Carpenter  on Tuesday, Jun. 21, 2011 2:45 pm  

Whether Rotnei Clarke would have emerged as a team leader at Arkansas will remain unanswered with his departure. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

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Rotnei Clarke is no longer a Razorback.

Over the next six months people are going to attempt to rationalize and dissect this decision. Many believe the uncharacteristic methods of contacting the national media to express discontent were not Rotnei Clarke’s but rather those of a family member who has taken a Joe Jackson-esque interest in his life.

Regardless of how he expressed that discontent or who ultimately made that decision, the fact reamins, Rotnei Clarke was not happy at the University of Arkansas. Clarke hadn’t been happy for a long time.

This isn’t the price of progress as many will conjecture. This isn’t about buying into a system or buying into a coach. This isn’t about trust and it isn’t about loving or hating the Razorback fan base. Rotnei Clarke was tired, jaded and finally done giving to a program that never gave back.

Let’s not pretend as though Clarke’s time at Arkansas was the stuff great memories are made of. Regardless of how much Razorback fans liked watching Clarke shoot, most also agreed he was not a good enough all-around basketball player to be the number one scoring option or the overall leader of the team. Because of that, fans looked for any and all hope that someone else would step up and fill that role. Whether it was Courtney Fortson, Michael Washington or Marshawn Powell, fans always wanted that leadership to come from someone who wasn’t Rotnei Clarke.

Clarke wanted to be the best scorer and the number one option at Arkansas, and for a time he was, but only out of necessity. He wasn’t going to spend his final year of eligibility holding a team of rookies together for a coach he doesn’t really know and a program perpetually in rebuilding mode.

At least, that’s how he sees it.

I think this situation is sad. I feel sorry for Rotnei Clarke, Mike Anderson, and Razorback Basketball. There isn’t a single person on the planet who can honestly say Arkansas is a better team today than it was yesterday. Rotnei Clarke was a great Razorback during a time period when the Arkansas name was synonymous with disappointment.

Regardless of whether or not Anderson had four years or one year with Clarke, Clarke would still be the greatest three-point shooter in Razorback history. The only difference would be how many games they won.

This decision will not be Clarke’s legacy, in time, people will remember what Clarke did on the basketball court as truly spectacular. He still holds the single game record for three-point-shots made and points in a game (51).
As Arkansas says goodbye to the final recruit of John Pelphrey’s highly ranked 2008 recruiting class, fans put a tight lid on Pel’s piglets to be stored in a dark closet in the bowels of Bud Walton Arena, never to be spoken of again.

Mike Anderson’s first year may not be as good as it would have been if Rotnei Clarke had stayed, but it will be the first year of Arkansas’ return to prominence.

Mike Anderson always was, and always will be a Razorback.

TJ Carpenter is a contributor to and fill-in cohost on Sportsline with John and Mike.



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