It's folly to presume to write a column predicting what will happen in a year just beginning, or anytime.

Show me the person who foresaw at the dawn of 2023 that one of the big political stories of the next 12 months in Arkansas would be Gov. Sarah Sanders' $19,000 purchase from pals of a never-seen lectern.

Or that she would try to destroy public information in Arkansas because a blogger was hurting her feelings. And that she would succeed in part--the part that now authorizes her to use the State Police as she secretly pleases.

Or that Arkansas Razorback football would be hyped absurdly and bumble to a below-.500 season.

Wait. I think I predicted that one.

But that was as easy as predicting that Sanders will be huffy and resentful in 2024.

So, let's start there--with Hog football, not the governor--as we engage in annual folly.

The Hog football team will improve because it will have a couple of mildly competent blocking linemen and Bobby Petrino has not come to Arkansas to paint--or ride a motorcycle, at least for a year or two.

The Hogs will get all the way from 4-8 to 5-7, including an alarmingly narrow win over UAPB in the season-opener, fueled by a fourth-and-inches touchdown pass.

The head coach will not be fired after this continued disappointment. The athletic director, Hunter Yurachek, won't be confident he could lure a coach any better, so low is the Hogs' standing in college football at present. He will take note that the trend indicates a 6-6 record the next year, meaning a bowl game, one of the pitiable ones, which is all Hog fans hope for anymore.

The Hog basketball team will go deep into the NIT.

Arkansas State's football team will start the season with a discussion of giving up the sport because of ineptness, but then wind up months later with a .500 record and somehow going to a bowl game.

Or maybe that's what happened last year.

Harding will repeat as national Division II college football champion and liberalize as an institution to the point of allowing celebrations with music-inspired body movements limited to above-waist sections.

These moves will be specifically allowed for 12 hours after the trophy presentation: The John Travolta skyward point, a facial distortion that Billy Crystal calls the "white-man overbite" and assorted music-related gyrations of the clavicle and rotator cuff.

Moving now to more secular and non-athletic matters: The Division of Legislative Audit will find that mistakes were made in the purchase of that lectern, but it doesn't matter in the end because the governor got the state Republican Party to pay the state back. And because auditors are afraid of her too.

She will then roll out the lectern for a news conference in which she will announce that she intends to tap the taxpayers to buy an even more expensive one that has a button that flips the state the bird.

Asa Hutchinson will get zero votes in the Republican presidential primary in Arkansas. It turns out he will have called a news conference in early February to drop out of the race, but nobody covered it. Back in Bentonville, he will vote for Joe Biden.

His wife Susan will vote for Donald Trump, who will win the state GOP primary with 83 percent.

Trump will go on to win the presidency. He and running mate Tucker Carlson will get 9 million fewer popular votes nationwide than Biden, who will have lost several weeks of campaigning to a hip injury from a fall. But the Trump-Carlson ticket will carry all the swing states where the anti-Trump fire of four years before had been lost to fatigue with the woes of the nation and world and concern about Biden's physical and mental fitness. Voters will decide Trump's moral unfitness is preferable if that's the only choice they have.

Arkansas Democrats will pick up two state legislative seats, leaving Republicans with only an 80 percent majority. The Republicans will hold all the constitutional offices and four congressional seats--of course. That doesn't qualify as a prediction any more than Hog hype or Huckabee huffiness does.

Nationally, Democrats will take over the House and the U.S. Senate will be 50-50, presided over by Vice President Carlson's decisive vote.

Barbara Webb will win the chief justiceship of the state Supreme Court because she is the most blatantly partisan Republican in the field, then announce that, beginning in 2025, all appeals to the Supreme Court will be delegated to the once-intermediate state Court of Appeals, excepting only those cases Sanders wants the Supreme Court to take because they involve her, and the Court of Appeals is entirely too independent, fair and judicious.

The state and country will survive. In 2024, that is.

Guarantees are unavailable beyond that.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected]. Read his @johnbrummett feed on X, formerly Twitter.

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