The Arkansas Razorbacks had a horrible offseason that changed the face of the school and the makeup of a highly successful football program.
Now they are left trying to pick up the pieces of a shattered atmosphere and compete in a grueling college football landscape. It is extremely evident that the Razorbacks will not be able to recover from what has been a tumultuous period in their school's history.
The biggest storyline of the offseason is easily the controversial issues surrounding former coach Bobby Petrino. The well-received coach was involved in an accident and cover-up that spawned several disastrous allegations which eventually led to his firing.
The school responded by hiring head coach John L. Smith, who has the inevitable task of keeping the players on track and focusing on football. Smith said all of the right things when hired and is very familiar with the Razorbacks since he was a part of the coaching staff from 2009-2011, but he will have a big hurdle to overcome in his first year.
The SEC is arguably the toughest conference in college football. The Razorbacks have the luxury of hosting games against the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers, but have very tough road games at Auburn, South Carolina and Mississippi State.
This schedule is hard enough even with a normal offseason; the difficulties they encountered will make it even more daunting.
All college football teams have to deal with players leaving for the NFL draft, but it was particularly harmful to the Razorbacks. They lost playmakers, leaders and top defenders.
On offense, speedy wideouts Greg Childs and Jarius Wright were drafted, and Joe Adams, a leader on the team, was selected by the Carolina Panthers.
On defense, Jake Bequette is now a member of the New England Patriots, leaving the Hogs with a big hole on the defensive line. These moves were anticipated, but the Razorbacks also lost several players they expected to have in uniform this season.
Marquel Wade is suspended indefinitely after being arrested on a burglary charge. Wide receiver Kane Whitehurst was released from his scholarship after a brush with the law and Quinta Funderburk was released and has since transferred to Syracuse.
The huge turnover will be a tough adjustment for the Razorbacks.
The Razorbacks have always had an explosive offense in recent years, but the defense remains an enigma.
Although there are some talented players on defense, the Razorbacks have not done enough to improve on that side of the ball. This will cause some big problems when they face the top offensive teams in the nation.
The atmosphere in Arkansas is still very unstable. While they are attempting to put the offseason in the rear view mirror, it will be the main storyline for the first few weeks of the college football season and could send this team into a tail spin if they start losing early.
The Razorbacks will need solid leadership and some luck if they want to have a successful 2012 campaign, but the difficult offseason may be too much to overcome.