What's Crazier: Arkansas As Rick Reilly's National Title Choice, Or His Pick Of Bars?

by Chris Bahn  on Thursday, Sep. 1, 2011 3:27 pm  

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Arkansas fans we come in contact with were not the least bit stunned earlier this week to read Rick Reilly’s prediction that the Razorbacks would win this year’s BCS national title.

Excited? Yes. Surprised? Not so much.

Instead, they seemed more puzzled by something else Reilly wrote in his pro-Arkansas pick: “Grub's, the best college bar in America, will nearly come unhinged when Arkansas wins the BCS national championship over Oklahoma.”

My Twitter feed (and text messages) included multiple reactions along the lines of: “But Grub’s isn’t even the best bar on Dickson Street!” [For the record: Grub's is a fine establishment. And Reilly is spot-on about their fantastic cheese fries.]

The fact Arkansans were more interested in arguing the merit’s of a local watering hole than questioning the merit of Reilly’s pick should tell you something about their expectations for this year’s team. It seems entirely plausible to a large segment of the fan base that the Razorbacks could contend for a national title.

Forget the injury to all-SEC tailback Knile Davis. Don’t stress about the rebuilt offensive line. Tyler Wilson hasn’t started a game since 2007, his senior year of high school? No worries.

At least one Arkansas fan isn’t able to read Reilly’s pick without decades of disappointment creeping into his head. Sam Eiflling, an Arkansan now blogging for The Big Lead (and one of the most talented writers we know), can’t help but think about the Razorbacks’ past.

Eifling writes on Reilly's pick for The Big Lead:

“[I am an] Arkansan who can tell you exactly where he was when Clint Stoerner fumbled against Tennessee in 1998, when Reggie Fish dropped a punt against Florida in the SEC title game in 2006 and when Ryan Mallet gifted a late pick to the Ohio State D in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.

Under both Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino, the Razorbacks have tended to play almost precisely in that gap between what’s expected of them (usually a fifth-place finish in the SEC West) and what they’re capable of. Once in a while, they’ll bottle lightning, knocking off Texas or squeaking past ’Bama or smoking Auburn or winning the only two seven-overtime games in history. Against LSU the past four seasons, in games that accumulated four overtime periods, Arkansas is 3-1. The Hogs of recent vintage have been, in one regard, better than the Tigers, minus the titles. Mostly, they’re just good enough to break your heart.”

But, Eifling later concedes, even he can’t help but think this could be the year. Maybe Reilly is on to something (rather than on something).

Eifling is an Arkansas fan after all. So Reilly's BCS prediction for the Razorbacks is “both absurd and strangely plausible.”

So now that Reilly’s pick has a had a few days to sink in: Are you more concerned about the season or is the crazy part still his choice of bar when in Fayetteville?



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