Bahn: Razorbacks Desperately Miss Wilson's Playmaking And Leadership

by Chris Bahn  on Saturday, Sep. 15, 2012 11:59 pm  

Tyler Wilson did not play, but visited with media following Arkansas' 52-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday. (Photo by Chris Bahn)

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An Arkansas assistant coach stood by himself outside the team locker room in the minutes following a 52-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama, his head buried in his hands.

A few feet away a trio of assistant coaches exchanged hugs and solemn pats on the back — the sort you’d see at a funeral — without saying a word.

Just down from there stood a support staff member, just staring off into space. Occasionally, he’d shake his head in disbelief as he tried to make sense of one of the worst dismantlings in school history.

Words initially failed Coach John L. Smith. He opened his postgame press conference by admitting he didn’t have much to say to the media or his team by way of explanation after the largest shutout loss in Arkansas history and the first zero on the Razorback Stadium home scoreboard since 1966.

To find a bigger loss look to 2006’s 70-17 loss to No. 1 Southern Cal. For a bigger shutout at home we have to go all the way back to a 44-0 loss to Missouri School of Mines in 1914.

“Well, I really don’t know what to say,” Smith said. “I didn’t know what to say to our team as well. It’s kind of hard to say anything at this point.”

Smith, whose stay in Fayetteville seems even more temporary than the 10-month contract he signed in April, stumbled on for another 1,300 or so words during an opening statement and Q&A with reporters, but other than taking blame for in-game decisions he didn’t offer much insight into what went wrong or how the Razorbacks plan to fix things.

Instead, that job — again — fell to quarterback Tyler Wilson, who didn’t play a snap against the Crimson Tide. While Smith and other Arkansas players and coaches spouted clichés straight off the postgame loss script, Wilson seemed to speak from the heart.

Wilson exhibited some passion. He didn’t sugar coat anything.

As he lowered himself into a seat behind mic in the team meeting room, Wilson was peppered with questions. He ignored them, then delivered what the Razorbacks surely hope goes down as his version of the Tebow promise:

“No, sorry, we’re not doing questions today. I’ll start with the football game. Obviously it wasn’t very pretty to watch. It wasn’t pretty for me to sit on the sideline and watch as a player. It sucks I can’t be out there to do anything about it.

“Do I feel like we at times gave up out there? Yeah. Absolutely. And as a leader, it sucks to see people not do their jobs and things go wrong. There have been a lot of things that have gone that way. As a leader at this point, you’ve got to look forward, and there’s been a lot of people jump off the bandwagon and it’s my responsibility as a leader to keep everybody in this organization, in this team, in that locker room, together. And I’m going to make sure of it going forward.



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