OPINION — Like It Is

Most fans feel fortunate to lure Petrino back

Last week was action packed in the Natural State.

On Wednesday night, the Arkansas Razorbacks beat No. 7 Duke 80-75 and Friday night the rivalry between Arkansas State and Arkansas-Little Rock continued with the Trojans going on a 20-0 run to win 77-66. The Trojans women's team took on Central Arkansas on Saturday, falling 63-58.

And Bobby Petrino returned to Arkansas as offensive coordinator, bringing a ton of news coverage to the Razorbacks -- most of it positive but not all of it, especially on the national level.

In Arkansas, where it counts the most, the 4-8 season was forgotten and there was a heartfelt hope for the future.

Coach Sam Pittman made the recommendation and it was he who invited Petrino to the basketball game, where a camera caught the OC smiling and the head coach not. Of course, that led to some unfounded speculation about Pittman's state of mind.

Some went to social media to vent, claiming if the Razorbacks are improved next season Petrino will get all the credit, which isn't true, If the players and fans are happy, Pittman will be happy.

The hiring of Petrino began when his agent, Christina Phillips, contacted Pittman, who liked the idea and passed the idea of hiring Petrino on to Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek, The approval continued through Chancellor Charles Robinson to UA system President Donald Bobbitt and to the UA Board of Trustees.

The double Ps had a joint news conference Thursday. On Friday they hit the recruiting trail, including a visit to Pine Bluff where, along with wide receivers coach Kenny Guidon, they met with Courtney Crutchfield, a multi-talented receiver, who coincidentally was receiving his game jersey for the All-American Bowl on Jan. 6 in San Antonio.

Crutchfield had committed to play football at Arkansas but recently reopened his recruiting.

For the record, Pittman and Petrino were both smiling as was Guidon, who served three games as interim offensive coordinator.

There is a ton of work to be done in the Razorback football program and it will take the entire staff pulling together to make progress, and it does appear everyone is on the same page.

Pittman has to find an offensive line coach after terminating Cody Kennedy, who landed on his feet at Mississippi State.

The recruiting portal opens Monday and it is expected to be home for the Hog coaching staff until the window closes on Jan. 2. Obviously with quarterback KJ Jefferson's future up in the air, they will be looking hard at that position. There are expected to be 12-15 Power 5 quarterbacks in the portal.

If a team wants to get better, the way to do it is out-recruit yourself, meaning get players that are better than the ones you have or will at least challenge returning players to improve.

Finding someone to replace kicker Cam Little will be a priority, too. Little declared for the NFL Draft on Friday and he was one of the best in the country. He leaves the UA after making 129 of 129 extra points, and this season he made four of five field goals from 50 yards or more.

He was Arkansas' leading scorer this season.

By today, most of the nation will be much more interested in the College Football Playoffs and the announcement of the Final Four than they are Razorback football.

There will continue to be some who are negative about the hiring of Petrino, but the majority of the Razorback fans, who felt fortunate to be able to land a coordinator with Petrino's skill, will once again be buying tickets and looking forward to football again.