Andy Hodges

Is there really a winning culture in place with Razorbacks from the top?

If Jeff Long actually believes wins and losses are the measuring stick for a program, then, well, maybe the questions should start at the top.

Athletics director Jeff Long’s tweet has gotten a lot of attention, but maybe the deeper impact is lost in the autopsy of a football season that careened wildly into a ditch.

Just how deep the ditch is won’t be known for at least another year, maybe two.

Long’s tweet sounded more like a plea to ticket-buyers and financial boosters than anything else.

Razorback Nation I reject notion the sky is falling! We are strong & will make changes to become stronger! We will fight we will !

The first thought a media person at another state in the SEC said upon seeing it was, “the College Football Playoff is in trouble if that’s the level of knowledge deciding who should be in the playoffs.”

More fans would have been happier with a tweet that seven wins in a season is not acceptable at Arkansas.

And it shouldn’t be.

Hearing that it’s a rebuilding project worked fine in 2013 and maybe 2014. There were a couple of wins in that latter season that, in retrospect, should be viewed more as what the other team didn’t do as opposed to what the Hogs did.

The bigger problem is that we have a four-year body of work and there are some trouble trends that if Long isn’t looking at, then he’s the one that’s going to have the problem.

Under Bielema, the Hogs can’t close out games.

In four years, there have been 14 games where Arkansas was leading at halftime they’ve ended up losing. In six of those games the Hogs were leading in the fourth quarter.

Winning half of those games and Bielema’s record is 32-19 and we’re having an entirely different conversation.

Getting beat from the start, but keeping it close is a sign you just need a few more players. Blowing leads in the second half — particularly the fourth quarter — falls squarely on the coaches.

You have to wonder if it’s a cultural thing.

Has Arkansas’ expectations from within the university’s athletic department changed?

Many former Razorbacks are baffled that not even being in the chase for a championship every year is not the mandate from the highest places in the athletic department.

Don’t believe the hype, either, which often gives you a false sense of achievement. Some could say that in 2015 the Hogs were in the SEC West race late, but that required a sense of hopefulness not even the most rabid fan could muster.

Again, if the expectations at the top aren’t clearly defined, everybody is in total confusion. There are examples in the last couple of decades where not having expectations at the top to match the fan base has led to the ouster of athletic directors and, in a couple of cases, the presidents of universities.

That’s how you build a winning culture.

Long has said wins and losses aren’t the measure of how a program should be judged.

Sounds good.

Unless you’re in the SEC where it makes you sound like an idiot.

Or a Vanderbilt fan.


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