Under the umbrella of different takes on commitment, here’s a fresh batch of “David’s Appetizers,” assorted musings and observations from the sports scene:
Obscured by the rhetoric from University of Arkansas fans and the ugliness on the field, here is one aspect you have to admire about both John L. Smith and Jeff Long.
Smith showed up for his speaking engagement last week before the Little Rock Touchdown Club after one of the most embarrassing starts in Razorback history. Smith made his talk and the famous “Arkabama” gaffe — and anyone who has had a public speaking engagement understands how that can happen. He answered questions.
All this before a group in which most would have preferred he announce his resignation — and more than a few who would love to personally escort him out of Arkansas.
That was a good example for young players. No matter how badly things are perceived and how much some people dislike you, you keep your commitments. Keeping commitments can often be challenging and tough. The message was clear in that regard.
Long did the same before a similar gathering in northwest Arkansas and maintained he is keeping his 10-month commitment to Smith. Keeping that agreement could become crucial in luring the next head coach. A trust issue between a coach and athletic director is huge and Long reneging on that commitment could reduce the pool of possible candidates or be the crucial difference in a potential coach choosing the UA job over another.
Some people don’t think Long is doing enough right now about the next coach. I think he’s had a short list for some time.
I think several coaches last spring conveyed the message, “Not now. But call me in December.”
Or rather, since the Razorbacks are now suffering through one of the most embarrassing and greatest preseason collapses in college football history, it could be, “Call me, maybe.”
Obviously responding to a proposal from UCA’s Faculty Senate to explore the possible cost savings of UCA returning to NCAA Division II, Dr. Brad Teague, UCA’s athletic director, sent this message out on Twitter on Friday afternoon: “UCA Athletics is proud of its move to and successes in Division I. We look forward to many more years of the same!”
And a response from Greg Burke, his counterpart at Northwestern State: “GladurinSLC.”
The won-loss marks reflects a commitment by UCA to success across the board in the Southland Conference: Going into Saturday night’s play, the combined record for UCA’s football, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer teams was 33-6-1. Also, each of the men’s and women’s golf teams has won one fall tournament and finished second in another.
UCA’s women’s soccer team entered Friday’s game against Northwestern State as the most prolific scoring team in the country, then were tied, 0-0, by the Lady Demons after two overtimes.
The scoring stats were somewhat skewered since the Bears played much of its early season schedule (and had several easy victories) against teams from the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC), possibly the weakest for soccer in the region.
That’s one issue first-year UCA coach Jeremy Bishop intends to fix in schedule. “We need to play teams that are more competitive with us and see better competition in non-conference,” he said. “Looking at some early results, I expect a very competitive season in the Southland Conference.”
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)