All of the Chaneys except my wife, who's from Virginia, are University of Arkansas alumni. Those in Razorback country know well the struggles of our football team. For those that don't, here's a recap:
- 2010 – BCS appearance in the Sugar Bowl, where we were defeated by a bunch of tattooed (and ineligible) players from Ohio State. Bobby Petrino's third year. The game was close, and we all looked forward to Petrino's recruits maturing.
- 2011 – A dominating Cotton Bowl victory over K-State in Bobby Petrino's third year. 10 wins on the season. Truly, a cause for celebration and optimism.
- 2012 – Ah, 2012. Truly, this was a year to forget. April Fool's Day brought a headline worthy of the day but, alas, it was no joke. Coach Petrino had a wreck on his Hog-red Harley with a woman not his wife on the back. He then lied about it to his boss, repeatedly, who fired him during a press conference televised on national TV. A bankrupt interim coach took over for the season. 3 players were charged before the season started with nine felonies EACH, making the Hogs the winner of the 2012 Fulmer Cup (an offseason tally of criminality, so not something you want to be winning). Still, we carried a top-10 ranking into the season, but many fans were uneasy. They proved to be right, as a lowly directional school in Louisiana-Monroe beat us in overtime the second game of the season and we tumbled out of the rankings. We finished 4-8. One of the four was against Kentucky in what would be the last SEC win for a long while.
- 2013 – Athletic Director Jeff Long hired Bret Bielema to take over the program. The fanbase collectively said, "Huh"? Reactions were of two varieties when fans learned of his track record at Wisconsin (three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances, but no wins in two coaching appearances). Some fans thought he'd be great at putting together a running team like he had at Wisconsin with Russell Wilson, who won the 2014 Super Bowl at Seattle. Other fans thought he was only good playing with the players of his mentor, Barry Alvarez. The season was a long one, ending with a 3-9 record and 0 wins in conference play.
- 2014 – A long offseason saw quarterback Brandon Allen's name besmirched daily on talk radio and his truck torched before the season started. The schedule was brutal. Most of Petrino's recruits were gone, and the ones that stayed were losing jobs to more talented youngsters. Every SEC school played through last weekend ranked in the top 17, and five of six were in the top 10 at game time. The season picked up where last season left off — a slew of conference losses. There were bright spots, to be sure, in dominating non-conference wins over inferior opponents and close games against superior opponents.
This 5-year history brings us to the present. Last weekend brought LSU to town, a team that is usually in the top two of the SEC West. LSU was ranked 17. Arkansas was on a 17-game SEC losing streak. Arkansas dominated from start to finishing, winning 17-0. The 17-degree windchill* didn't stop jubilant fans from rushing the field to celebrate with the players.
Who has been kicked in the teeth 17 times in a row by their peers? How does that affect one's psyche? Most folks would really be down on themselves after such a long period without success. It really says something for the leadership abilities of Coach Bielema to keep his players motivated during such a long losing streak. The players haven't quit this season and have played most teams close with the exception of Georgia. They have broken the cycle. #WPS
There is a corollary to trial work. People like me who represent individuals against insurance companies and other big corporations often face repetitive and distasteful behavior. A common tactic of insurance company lawyers is to ask questions to clients about things that happened 17 years ago, then try to find a piece of paper from a doctor to make the client out to be a liar. For example: "Have you ever been treated for neck pain or headaches?" If you went to the doctor 17 years ago after a waterskiing fall with headaches and neck pain, you better believe the insurance company will point to it in denying your claim. Nevermind the hypocrisy of arguing, on one hand, that soft-tissue injuries should heal within 6-8 weeks, but, on the other hand, the treatment 17 years ago was to the same body part so the defendant couldn't have caused the injury.
The toughest clients are the ones willing to take their case to a jury of their peers. A jury trial is grueling on clients in its own right: everything in the client's life is placed under a microscope — work history, social life, tax returns. However, a jury is sometimes the only way clients are ever able to persevere after a life-altering injury. A jury has the power to make right all the things that went wrong for the client. The jury is the difference between what could have been, and what is.
*I may or may not have made the windchill up, but it was in the 20s during the game.