Arkansas football: Reaction to Morris 'guaranteeing' a victory a turning point or meme forever?
Some of us can still remember watching the Danny Ford Show. It was 1997 and Ford was wallowing in his 2nd consecutive 4-7 season at Arkansas, also his last. He was brought to Arkansas to do what he did at Clemson, win a national championship. But Ford, who won 5 conference titles during his tenure at Clemson from 1979-89, never came close to matching that kind of sustained success in 5 seasons at Arkansas.
During his final 4-7 season — his 3rd in 4 seasons — Ford’s coach’s show resembled more of a dirge than a review of the previous football game. While replay video streamed across our TV, Ford provided voice-over commentary. He threw his players under the bus. He threw his coaches under the bus. It was over for him at Arkansas, and he knew it. You got a sense that he was simply counting down the days when he could get out of Fayetteville. It was definitely cringe-worthy.
So when Chad Morris conducted his weekly press conference Monday with guarded optimism and a forward look to the month of November, it was an admirable stance to take in comparison, especially for a coach who still hasn’t won a conference game in his 2 seasons at Arkansas. Some upbeat words were spoken from a coach on a 5-game losing streak and a 13-game skid over 2 seasons in the SEC. From a coach, downtrodden but not broken, still looking for answers even though his record as the Razorbacks’ head coach stands at 4-16.
He’s still fighting. He’s still looking to turn things around. He still has a somewhat positive attitude about the program. No, he’s not bubbling with enthusiasm, but for some of us older guys who can remember what giving up looks and sounds like, we can assure you that Morris hasn’t thrown in the towel.
For those who wish he would, well that’s another story for another time.
Morris hasn’t abandoned ship. Quite the opposite, some have taken what he said in Monday’s presser to mean he’s even guaranteed a victory on Saturday at home over Mississippi State. When asked about who would play quarterback on Saturday, this was Morris’ reply …
“We’re going to win this football game this week, and whoever we feel like is the best opportunity for us to win that game is first and foremost who we’re going with.”
He reiterated what some believe is a guarantee of beating the Bulldogs on Saturday.
“We’re going to win a football game and that’s our approach,” he said.
Chad Morris guaranteeing an SEC win Saturday against Miss State? pic.twitter.com/BdZIk6dbSn
— Chris Wright (@CWrightSDS) October 29, 2019
Now, upon further review, it’s fairly conclusive that what he meant by that was that his full intentions are to go out Saturday to win a football game and he’ll do whatever he can in his power to make that happen.
That’s probably not the same sort of guarantee that Joe Namath made in Super Bowl III when he clearly and boldly guaranteed his New York Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts and give the old AFL its first Super Bowl victory over the established NFL.
Regardless, the verbiage is encouraging, at least in comparison to that of Ford, who had resigned himself to the recognition that it was over for him at Arkansas. And perhaps that’s what should be taken away from Monday’s comments.
No, Morris isn’t brass enough to guarantee a victory. He doesn’t have the equity to make such a bold statement. But the will to win and make things better still exists. There’s still a heartbeat within the Arkansas football program, albeit a faint one.