Arkansas Razorback Football: Top 7 Things on Hogs' Christmas Wish List
Another year of college football has come and gone and the beginnings of bowl season are injecting electricity into the already fevered pitch of the holiday spirit.
The Razorbacks are no exception to the rule and in fact, they have a few Christmas wishes of their own.
The following slide show will detail a few of the things that the Hogs may be wishing lie under the proverbial college football Christmas tree.
Hogs' Wishlist Item Number One: Early Christmas Present From Bobby Petrino
The Razorbacks got an early Christmas present this year with the announcement of a contract extension for offensive mastermind Bobby Petrino.
Urban Meyer's announcement that he was retiring from coaching at the end of this season marked the opening of one of the most lucrative coaching jobs in the nation, the University of Florida.
Understanding that Bobby Petrino was a prime candidate to fill the position, the University of Arkansas moved quickly to sign Petrino to a 7 year contract extension that would place him at the head of the program through the 2017 season.
Along with the extension came a significant salary increase, placing Petrino near the top of the highest-paid collegiate coaches category.
Petrino has experienced significant improvements since his tenure began at Arkansas, going 5-7, 8-5 and now 10-2, with a trip to a BCS game imminent for the first time in Razorback history.
Yep. Christmas came early for the Hogs this year.
Hogs' Wishlist Item Number Two: Alumni Donations
Recruitment has improved under Bobby Petrino, and his success on the field will do nothing but aid in his quest to secure more and more talented recruits.
It is understood, however, that the Razorbacks' locker room and training facilities are not competitive with other schools in the SEC. Recruits are underwhelmed by the small size and drabness of the current facilities.
In an effort to address just that, Athletic Director Jeff Long unveiled plans for a new multi-million dollar football facility. It will include training rooms, offices, lounges, a museum and even a recruit reception area.
Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium remains one of the finest venues in the country, but this new facility will push Arkansas towards the head of the pack in the most competitive conference in the nation.
It won't come easily, however, as neither taxpayer nor university funds will be used to pay for the new center and it will be purchased entirely through private donations.
Having said that, the Hogs are hoping that the alumni will turn out their pockets and lay down some dough so that they can start enjoying the state-of-the-art facility as soon as possible.
Hogs' Wishlist Item Number Three: New Orleans Turns Into Fayetteville South
With the Sugar Bowl match up with Ohio State in New Orleans pending, the Razorbacks are no doubt training as hard as ever to have the maximum amount of success on the national stage.
Razorback fans are dedicated, zealous, and true to the cause.
Last year, at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis Tennessee, the cardinal and red outshone the purple and white, almost to the point where it was embarrassing. Some pundits even went so far as to call Memphis, "Fayetteville East".
I can't say I don't agree. I was at that game and the energy of the crowd, despite the cold weather and slow nature of the game, was tremendous. Every third down, every kickoff, every dropped pass, the Razorback Nation expressed their emotions and encouraged the team.
If the Razorbacks expect to win against a powerful Ohio State team, they are going to need a similar setup. Luckily for the Hogs, the University of Arkansas' ticket allotment sold out almost instantly.
Furthermore, the relative proximity of Arkansas to Louisiana is significantly greater than that of Ohio and Louisiana. Hopefully this fact will manifest itself in the form of a significant Razorback fan majority on the day of the game and hopefully that majority will result in Ohio State's record vs. SEC teams becoming 0-9.
Hogs' Wishlist Item Number Four: The Knile Davis Show Comes To New Orleans
It is indisputable that the Razorbacks have one of the most potent offenses in the nation. Staggering numbers of points, multitudes of huge plays and a seemingly limitless range to Mallett's arm strength have thrown the Hogs into the top echelon of offensive performance in the NCAA.
Mallett can't do it all himself though and the recent explosion in the running game owes its spark to No. 7 Knile Davis.
At the beginning of the season, Davis' numbers were lackluster due to the "runningback by committee" approach that Petrino was employing to find a starter.
Following the Texas A&M game, however, Davis exploded and he has racked up 1,183 yards on 178 attempts and has 13 Touchdowns.
Ohio State likes to flaunt their defensive prowess, especially in the secondary. Comments regarding the relative weakness of Ohio State's schedule and the Big Ten in general notwithstanding, if the Buckeyes are able to put a stranglehold on Mallett, the weight will then fall to Davis to carry the Hogs to victory.
The more Davis runs, the closer in the linebackers and the secondary scoot, and that's when Ryan Mallett can execute you with one deep ball.
Knile's talents will be in demand more than ever during this game and it's likely that if the scoreboard shows a Razorback victory at the end of the night, he will have been an irreplaceable component.
Hogs' Wishlist Item Number Five: Protection For Ryan Mallett
Many of the presents that will be opened on Christmas morning will be in boxes that have the word "FRAGILE" stamped all over them.
While Ryan Mallett is by no means fragile, he is not an unstoppable tank either. His Howitzer arm is unmatched, but it doesn't work so well when Mallett gets flushed out of the pocket or taken down and sacked.
The Hogs will be counting on the O-Line to protect Ryan as he attempts to pick apart Ohio State's formidable defense. Time in the pocket will be fundamental, but if the big boys can keep Mallett from hitting the turf too many times, he has the requisite weapons to cut Ohio State to pieces.
Hogs' Wishlist Item Number Six: Sugar Bowl Victory
This would be the overwhelmingly favorite present that the Hogs could possibly give themselves this year.
On January 4, the Hogs will match up against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. This will be the first BCS appearance ever for the Hogs and constitutes a chance for them to seal their national legitimacy and establish themselves as a rising dynasty.
The history is intriguing, as Ohio State has never won a BCS game against an SEC opponent, and in fact has never won a single bowl game against SEC opponents with a record of 0-9. If Arkansas wins and continues the trend of conference domination, Ohio State will be the owner of a pathetic 0-10 record against the SEC.
Arkansas wants to win this game to prove their national legitimacy as well as earn respect in a conference that sees them as an inferior colleague. A win over the Terrell Pryor led Ohio State Buckeyes would do both of those things.
Furthermore, after review of several of Ohio State's fan boards, it is apparent that the Buckeyes are even so arrogant as to declare that they won't feel that they've shaken off the curse if they beat Arkansas because it won't be a victory against a "real SEC team".
Arkansas has a bone to pick with Ohio State, with the SEC and with the nation, and they can accomplish all three of those ends through a victory at the Sugar Bowl.
Hogs' Final Wishlist Item: A Mallett Return Announcement
Ryan Mallett has led the Razorbacks to a fantastic 10-2 year, with the prospect of winning a BCS bowl and reestablishing an era of respect for Arkansas football.
What if he came back and did it again?
A lot of pro scouts are worried about Ryan's decision making abilities when under pressure in the pocket, as well as his accuracy on some routes. There's certainly no dispute that he has the strongest arm in college football, but they want to see that cannon sighted up a little bit more before they attach it to their proverbial ship.
Tyler Wilson is an incredible quarterback with amazing pocket presence and Brandon Mitchell has the makeup for a fantastic option QB.
Ryan Mallett, however, is currently the star of the show and with his entire receiving corps returning next year, it is difficult to imagine anything but significant improvement.
The losses of DJ Williams and DeMarcus Love will be hard, but not crippling, and it's conceivable that the Hogs could continue their trend of improvement with Tyler Wilson at the helm.
Having said this, however, Mallett returning for one more year would help him cultivate the skills necessary to be a sure first round pick, while at the same time potentially leading his Hogs to a National Championship game.
How Realistic Is The Hogs' Wishlist? Will Santa Be Good?
Every single item on the Razorbacks' Christmas List is within their grasp and they have the power to attain most of their wishes for themselves.
This has been a simply phenomenal season for the Hogs thus far and the Sugar Bowl will add an exclamation point to the end of a beautiful example of progress.
The Hogs will continue to prepare for the Sugar Bowl and will continue to get better.
As the days roll by and Christmas looms imminently, I think it's safe to say that the entire Razorback nation will be hoping for a big present on January 4.