The Arkansas Razorbacks put together an incredibly disappointing season in 2012 that had many questioning just how hard the players were playing for the coaching staff that was in place. You never like to question a player’s toughness or work ethic, but it appeared clear on numerous occasions that the team had thrown in the towel.
Now, in an interview with the Sporting News, three former Arkansas coaches are agreeing that players quit on the season.
The three coaches — interim coach John L. Smith, defensive coordinator Paul Haynes and offensive coordinator Paul Petrino — each shared the same belief that many watching the Razorbacks this past season had received.
“I think some of the players, some of the older guys, said, ‘Why should I continue on?’ They were looking ahead to the NFL,” Smith said.
Petrino echoed the belief that some players were focused more on their futures than the current state of their football program.
“There were some seniors who kind of hung it up, to be honest with you,” Petrino said. “They were going to worry about their futures more than that team. A couple seniors said they were hurt and I don’t know if they really were.”
Haynes took the softest approach and didn’t directly state that he felt the players had quit. Instead, he made it appear that the disappointing season fell on everyone’s shoulders.
“I don’t fault the kids for thinking that way,” Haynes added. “Again, there was no stability there. Again, it goes back to, ‘Who am I playing for?’ Once they can’t say, ‘We’re trying to save the coaches’ jobs’—if they’re just playing for the university, sometimes kids feel the university let them down.”
It’s never good to see players being called out for mailing it in, but this just goes to show that the Arkansas program was in a lot more turmoil in 2012 than we could see at the surface.
Hopefully for the Razorbacks, Bret Bielema will be able to bring a winning attitude and change the culture of the locker room.