It’s widely known that I am not a Razorback fan. Although I routinely do a record prediction for the University of Arkansas, I haven’t been for many years.
A colleague of mine, who I believe is a Hog fan, wrote an opinion piece last week in support of Arkansas coach Bret Bielema giving Michael Dyer a chance to be on the UA football team. Dyer has reportedly said he would turn down a scholarship somewhere else if allowed to walk on in Fayetteville.
Mistake. Capital M. A big one too.
As a society we are all about second, and sometimes third chances — see Arkansas State taking but never getting to see Dyer play — but how many would this be for Dyer. Yes, the word of Fitz Hill at Arkansas Baptist has to count for something, but how will Dyer act when he is out of Hill’s shadows?
Let’s say this wasn’t Michael Dyer. Say it was a marginal athlete who probably wouldn’t make a significant contribution to your team. What would a Hog fan say then?
No. Capital N. That or they would probably add a certain devilish abode before the no.
This should not be any different but our catering to the super-talented is why this is a news item. That, and it’s another six plus weeks until football season starts.
There are plenty of reasons this is a bad idea for Arkansas, starting with Bielema. After leaving Wisconsin for the SEC, Bielema said all the right things and you could easily infer that he planned to be in Fayetteville for a while. Adding a person with the background of Dyer because he can — or at least you think he can — still play at the level that landed him an NCAA title game MVP award, sure seems like a quick fix attempt.
Even if you can forget that Bielema’s maiden voyage is only weeks away, can he risk dividing the fanbase by taking that chance? You could argue that the fanbase is already divided by the question, but until Dyer has a red — or whatever blasphemous color they may be this year — hog on the side of his head, then not really.
Let Dyer get arrested or even accused of something improper and Bielema will be villified by those who thought he wasn’t worth the risk in the first place.
Let’s explore risk. Is the risk worth the reward? An unknown commodity with a suspect background that could divide your team — any carry Dyer ever gets takes one away from somebody — and or embarrass you at some point, versus a potential game breaker that could turn what is projected to be a six or seven win — at best — team into one that wins eight?
If Dyer walks on, as has been suggested, it costs the UA no money in terms of classes. Yes there is grant money, student loans and all of that, but there is still going to be a substantial cost for someone. And if he is successful do you give him his third football scholarship?
Who — Capital W — would be paying that bill and what is in it for them?
At first it was a scholarship Dyer seemed to be after. He reportedly said he would rather play college football than declare for the supplemental NFL draft.
Really? Capital R.
Given the turmoil in New England, not to mention the league’s stance with suspect characters these days, how long would he have to wait for a call? And what promise is there that a guy who hasn’t taken a meaningful snap since 2011 — a spring game at Arkansas State is not truly meaningful — is the same player he once was.
Another question is how does one foul up so bad to be dropped by Arkansas State and then land on their feet at the flagship university in the state — remember, he also snubbed the same school out of high school. Heck, even Bobby Patrino had to drop all the way to Western Kentucky for his latest second chance.
Oddly, Petrino has apparently expressed an interest in Dyer. So too have Illinois State and Troy according to reports.
Any of those are better options for Dyer’s services. Backlash at one of them in the event something goes wrong tends to be shorter lived and a we were giving him a second chance line will ring more true.