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Arkansas Straw Men - Part 1

If I only had a brain.The "Straw Man Fallacy" is a term used in the context of discourse to represent the deliberate construction of your opponent's argument simply for the purpose of either proving a point or misrepresenting your opponents true position. The name is derived from the idea that, in doing this, one creates a "straw man" which to attack as opposed to his or her opponent. In its most extreme sense, it's a diversion tactic. However, in its most basic sense, it's simply an attempt to make your opponent look foolish.

How have Arkansas fans used it? Well, many of them seem to think we're mindlessly enamored with our coach. I can even remember (and no, I'm not going to take the time to look) Razorbacks making claims in our comment threads that Ole Miss fans think Houston Nutt is "brilliant" and "the best coach ever." This maybe be true for the "OMG Hawtty Tawddy y'all WeAr RED!!!1" portion of the fanbase, but to come onto a blog which openly admits that Nutt is in the bottom half of the conference in coaching and make such claims is pretty damned ignorant.

You get it now? This argument is a straw man in that it purports a position which is not necessarily that of the target in an attempt (a failed one, at that) to misrepresent the opponents' (that'd be us) position and/or undermine their intelligence. I have yet to meet an Ole Miss fan who thinks Houston Nutt is "da best currch EVAR " and we've certainly never said that.

Within the realms of logic, reason, and debate, the use of a straw man is considered fallacious (hence the name) and frowned upon. I certainly don't like them very much myself, either.

This is why, over the next few days, I plan on demonstrating the absurdity of the common use of the straw man on the part of the Razorback fans by--you guessed it--setting up my very own straw men!

Now, this series won't be consistent of true straw men in that these are positions actually advocated by hoardes of Razorback fans. However, they will be straw men in the sense that I am bringing up these topics without (direct) provocation and arguing against them before my opponent(s) have an opportunity to directly state their position(s).

Also, I plan on really blowing this shit outta proportion.

Hypocritical double standard? You bet. I run this Goddamn blog, motherfuckers. You can just get over it.

Straw Man number 1: "Ole Miss has a talented football team."

Arkansas fans love to say this. They clamor on and on about the ever so talented Rebels. Of course, they do this to further perpetuate the idea that, with another (really, any other) coach, Ole Miss would have a much better record. In their eyes, Ole Miss is extremely talented and Hooten Day-yel is just fuckin' this one up royally. The examples are numerous. Just peruse our comment threads, woopig, hogville, and the like.

While the Rebels certainly have a few talented players (some at an All-American level) at certain positions, to say that Ole Miss, as a team, is talented is not true. Oher and Peria Jerry are perhaps the only players who consistently display high levels of talent. When Jevan's on a roll, Hardy has his magic shoes, and Dex hasn't been eating fried catfish while wearing his receiver's gloves they are certainly quite talented. However, a 1/1 TD to INT ratio doesn't scream "talent." Not starting because of your shitty attitude is, in my opinion, a demonstrable lack of talent. And you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would describe someone who turns the ball over as routinely as McCluster to be purely talented.

Does a talented team have to convert a wideout and halfback to cornerback just to be four-deep at the position? Does a talented team have two converted safeties at the outside linebacker slots? Does a talented team have a former wideout starting at free safety? Our lack of talent has made these changes necessary; not some imaginary boatload of talent, Razorback fans.

On what basis to the Hogs make these claims of talent? They, like many of us in Eddie O's first couple of seasons, were tricked by Rivals and Scout recruiting rankings.

For simplicity's sake, I'm going to be using data for this next portion where I look at the last few years of Ole Miss recruiting to decipher just how we ascertained such high, yet misleading recruiting rankings.

2004: 30th overall/8th in the SEC - Ok, this one doesn't really count because it was Cutcliffe's last year and it wasn't highly ranked, but the fact that, of the 14 3-star or higher rated players, 3 of them made it to their redshirt senior season (remember, Cut gave just about everyone a red shirt) says something about our retention rate. "Oh, but Ghost, those players graduated or are in the NFL, duh." No, sadly, not at all.

2005: 30th overall/9th in the SEC - This class featured Jerrell Powe. Keep that in mind. It also featured Peria Jerry, who was being counted a second time. Of the 11 3-star or higher players, only five stuck with the program. Remember Quenten Taylor, Jada Brown, and Kendrick Perry? Yeah, thought so.

2006: 16th overall/6th in the SEC - This was Ed Orgeron's best class by far... sorta. While looking through the reference links today I noticed this thread on Hogville, on which someone made the claim that we had "the best recruiting classes in the SEC." Sixth isn't the "best," you dolt. The reason this class was ranked so high was because of two 5-star caliber athletes: Brent Schaeffer (bust, only "played" two seasons) and Jerrell Powe (being counted for a second time). It also featured John Jerry being counted for a second time. Furthermore, 4-star Tery Levy, who never made it on campus was a part of this class. However, despite these setbacks, this class was still pretty good by Ole Miss standards. Many of those players are still on the team. Despite this relative succss, the 2006 class certainly isn't the type to completely support an entire program. Of the 24 3-star or higher players in this class, 7 are not a part of the program.

2007: 27th overall/8th in conference - This class was a complete bust. It consisted of six four stars, the three highest rated of which (Chris Strong, AJ Jackson, and Roderick Davis) aren't on the team. There were 18 3-star or higher athletes in this class and, after ONE season, a third of them are gone.

2008 28th overall/7th in conference - This was a half Nutt, half Orgeron recruited class and, say what you Razorbacks will, but four of the top five players in this class committed to Ole Miss because of Nutt.

So, of all of the highly rated Ed Orgeron years, we had several players whose star rankings counted twice, a five-star who played like a 1-star, and more than enough 4-stars that never even made it to campus. As of right now, we have 49 3-star or higher players to fill up 85 roster slots... ouch.

Those recruiting class rankings you see every spring are absolute bullshit. If you are an Ole Miss fan and haven't realized that by now, prayers have been sent.

All of this adds up to one, simple fact; and that is that Ole Miss is NOT talented. LSU is talented. Florida is talented. Alabama is (I regret typing this already) talented. This team didn't win a single damned game in conference last season. This team can't fill out its roster at certain key positions with natural players of those positions. Hell, some members (ahem) can't even put a pair of shoes on a damned bus. However, and as sad as this is to say, this is the most talented Rebel team in five years. Are they more talented than Arkansas? Yes. Yes they are. The Razorback faithful will say "well Houston Dale just gave up on recruiting!"

Well, well, well... What a lovely segue into tomorrow's segment of Arkansas Straw Men: "Houston Nutt is a despicable person for not putting his full effort into recruiting last season." Stay tuned, faithful Cup fans! Arkansas hate week rolls on!