Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Off The Wally

If you've followed SEC football since the arrival of Piggies-come-lately Arkansas in 1992, you've probably heard of Arkansas Democrat-Gazette assistant managing sports editor Wally Hall. In a league loaded with homer sportswriters, Wally has somehow managed to stand head and shoulders above his peers in his obsessive dedication to boosting his own team and slinging mud around at their opposition.

Oddly enough, considering the two schools rarely played before '92, Auburn has become one of Wally's more prominent targets. Ever since Arkansas hired Houston Nutt instead of Tommy Tuberville in late 1997 (the details of which can be read in this facinating contemporaneous account by the late Orville Henry, whose journalistic jock Wally isn't fit to launder), Hall has been on a quixotic mission to convince other Hogly fans that the Other White Meat didn't make the wrong decision. He's gotten quite a bit more shrill during Arkansas' recent return to the lower tier of the SEC.

Sometimes Wally complains about stuff that happened in actual ball games. In 2003, he wrote at least three columns (probably more, but I got bored and quit checking) accusing SEC refs of fixing Auburn's 10-7 win in Fayetteville. Wally's rationale, such as it was, charged that a couple of holding calls on long Arkansas runs were made by an official who lived in Alabama.

Sometimes Wally just makes stuff up to make himself feel better. After losing to the Tigers in 2000, he claimed that AU's Rudy Johnson would have attended Arkansas--after all, every kid in America dreams of living in a remote town in the Ozarks--if only the mighty U of Ark accepted "D" grades from a transfer student.

One problem there: Auburn doesn't, didn't, and never has accepted "D's" from junior college transfers. I should know--I transferred a few hours of Calculus and chemistry myself from my own hometown JuCo that I took the summer before my freshman year at AU. I checked the transfer rules quite carefully before I enrolled, and Auburn doesn't accept any transfer grades lower than a "C." (Hey, I did say that Calculus was involved).

Wally's rantings aren't taken seriously by much of anybody (even most Arkansas fans will readily tell you that he's an idiot), but if we can't make fun of dumb sportswriters on a blog, what's the point of having one at all? So here's a sample from Wally's preseason Top 25, published today:
11 AUBURN Would be higher but there are rumblings of a major distraction that might hit the plains. Still could be the money year for Tom Tuberville. Next stop the NFL.

As Mr. Mackey on South Park would say, "M'kay." I'll let Will Woods (the "other Will") from AuburnSports.com speak to this one:
Two things are behind that comment. Well, actually three.

The two biggest are named Kodi Burns and Lee Ziemba. Hall has been known to blatantly recruit in-state kids in his columns; when Auburn got in on the top two kids in that state, Hall's venom got kicked up a notch.

The other factor is that Hall has a strong dislike for Coach Tuberville...and it's probably not so much that as it is his worship of the coaching God that is Houston Dale Nutt. Lots of Arkansas fans felt/feel that Tuberville should have been hired as their coach when Nutt was. Hall, who for whatever reason is Nutt's No. 1 fan, probably just feels like a good way to defend Nutt is to bash Tuberville.

Combine those three things with the fact that Hall is a nutjob (no pun intended), and this probably won't be the last off the wall, backhanded jab at Tuberville/Auburn we see this year.

Since I pay almost zero attention to recruiting, I'm going to take Woods' word on the kids from Arkansas, but his description of Wally's motivations fits in perfectly with the guy's previous antics. The guy's a loon, and if Nutt regime continues to slip over yonder in Fayetteville, Wally should be even more entertaining to watch as this season progresses.

1 comment:

Maestroh said...

I lived in Arkansas for four years and Wally Hall was as useless as they come. Remember the 1995 '12 men on the field' fiasco against Alabama? Wally tried to act like the extra play the Hogs got didn't make a bit of difference - never mind that they scored on FOURTH down that they wouldn't have had without the officials screwing up.