A Look Back at the Year in Arkansas Business

This week’s Arkansas Business is an annual treat for me, both as part of the newspaper’s team and as a reader. It’s our yearly look back at the last 12 months of Arkansas business news, including our countdown of the year’s top 10 stories.

Arkansas Business' annual look back at the year that was.

Arkansas Business’ annual look back at the year that was.

We’ve also got a look at 2012′s best and worst and a roundup of the top 10 most-read Arkansas Business stories of the year, written by me. It’s a fun trip down memory lane.

Also: Our media reporter Kate Knable authors the latest entry in our popular Exec Q&A series. This week, Kate talks to Eliza Gaines, assistant publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (and daughter of Publisher Walter Hussman Jr.), about the future of newspapers and her thoughts on print.

And finally, there’s the best quotations of 2012, including some fun article art put together by the invaluable Tre Baker. John L. Smith, Gus Malzahn, Mike Beebe, Warren Stephens — the gang’s all here. What a year it was, eh?

Arkansas Business Talks to New Team President Russ Meeks About Leadership Changes

Arkansas Business’ Todd Traub — an experienced baseball writer who literally wrote a book on the team — is the first to sit down for an on the record interview with new team president Russ Meeks about the new direction he’s talking the Texas League team:

Chief among Meeks’ concerns is the Texas League All-Star Game slated for Dickey-Stephens Park in 2014. It is a chance for the club and the state to put its best foot forward, he said.

With that in mind, Meeks said, firing Laven and Kay was not a snap decision but the result of a series of overlapping, annual internal reviews and evaluations.

“For the future, we know that we need leadership that looks at changes from a positive, affirmative standpoint and never runs into the issue of ‘we don’t do it that way’ or ‘we haven’t done it that way,’” Meeks said.

But it is the break with the past that has alarmed many longtime employees, former board members and shareholders. Many are concerned there are no real “baseball people” running the operation.

That story here, and Chris Bahn takes a look at the top-paid athletes from Arkansas.

There Is No End to Houston Nutt’s Bullsh*t

Houston Nutt

Houston Nutt

Tre Baker, putting Houston Nutt’s Ole Miss football team in ArkansasSports360.com’s Outhouse. Again. This time, after Nutt suspends key players before facing a horrific beat-down this weekend versus LSU.

A cynic would say something here how suspending your star players right before facing the No. 1 team in the country and then perhaps blaming the loss on their absence is a chicken move. But then again, we already said that a month ago when Nutt suspended four of his players against then-No. 1 Alabama.

Nutt is literally resigned to his fate.

Why has this guy been allowed to finish the season?

Dallas Cowboys Among First ‘Google+ Pages’

Google Plus Dallas Cowboys

A Page in sports history.

Google+ rolls out Pages. More stuff to ignore!

Kidding. But seriously, I’m rarely on this thing, but you can find me here, for what it’s worth.

Meanwhile, not everyone can sign up for Pages yet, much to my relief. I already have a hand in overseeing some of the day job’s dozen or so Facebook Pages. I’m not looking forward to the additional, uh, interaction.

Anyway, you can see the Dallas Cowboys’ Page here, along with a welcome video from owner and Arkansan Jerry Jones. Always on the bleeding edge, that Jerry.

From Mildly Amusing to More Than Just A Little Awkward

Houston Nutt

Houston Nutt

I was out and about yesterday and missed this exchange at Houston Nutt’s post-game news conference yesterday. Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal recaps it in his column today:

After his 10th straight SEC loss, after another crushing afternoon of football, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt did the natural thing.

He went after a reporter.

“Played harder than that 49-10, right, Neal?” he said.

Most of us at the press conference were totally lost at this point. Neal McCready covers Ole Miss for the local Rivals site. He was sitting right there in the front row. But 49-10? What was that about?

“I don’t read your stuff, they tell me what you say,” said Nutt, looking at McCready. “One of my freshmen told me that Neal McCready wrote that we’d get beat 49-10.”

Pause.

“Wasn’t no 49-10.”

McCready himself has video of the exchange in his column today. His bottom line retort:

This Thursday, I picked Arkansas to win, 49-10. Obviously, I missed. It happens. There’s no personal vendetta. It’s a picks column, for goodness sake.

Every knows that when the going gets tough, the tough go after the media. That’s nothing new.

At any rate, it’s 10 and counting for Houston at Ole Miss. This whole season has gone from mildly amusing to more than just a little awkward.

UA Athletic Facilities Master Plan: $300 Million, 30 Years

University of Arkansas Athletic Facilities Master Plan

Jeff Long's "master plan" for University of Arkansas athletic facilities, unveiled today.

From ArkansasSports360.com:

Arkansas unveiled a long-term vision for athletic facilities on Tuesday. The projects — expected to impact all sports — could take up to 30 years to complete at an initial estimate of $300 million.

Major projects include the addition of club seating in the north end zone of Razorback Stadium, a basketball practice facility, an academic and dining area for all athletes and upgrades to all existing athletic facilities. Also proposed is a sidewalk system connecting facilities on campus and detailing Razorback athletic history.

Chris Bahn hits the highlights here and a photo slideshow of design renderings here. Watch video of the full presentation below, on a special episode of “Ask th AD,” if you’re so inclined.

The Razorback Nation Holds Its Breath, and Brad Paisley Apologizes

Brad Paisley burns a Razorbacks rug, the bastard.

It really tied the room together.

So this is the stuff that really moves the Analytics needle. And it makes Chris Bahn crazy.

As of Friday afternoon, Brad Paisley’s mistreatment of adorned decorative flooring is the most visited, most commented, most “liked,” most whatever-ed of all ArkansasSports360.com‘s news and blog items this week. So far, the original item’s at more than 290 Facebook “likes” and more than 130 comments.

Add Paisley-Rug-Burn-gate to list of oddball gems that inexplicably rack up the sports pageviews. Others on the list include the interminable Renee Gork Hate-gate, the Snoop Dogg-Ryan Mallett Summit of 2010 and Joe Johnson’s monster truck, which prompted a link from Yahoo! and tens of thousands of views.

Who can predict this stuff? Not us. Some days you’re more lucky than anything.

At any rate, we’re all ready for football season to begin. It’s been a looong summer.

University of Arkansas Men's Basketball Coach Mike Anderson

University of Arkansas Introduces Mike Anderson as Basketball Coach

 

University of Arkansas Men's Basketball Coach Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson today, via Razorvision

“I’m used to #winning.” — Mike Anderson, today, Bud Walton Arena, Fayetteville, via Razorvision.

More Coverage: ArkansasSports360.com | Chris Bahn via Twitter | ArkansasSports360.com via Twitter | via Facebook | Today’s THV news conference video after the jump

Plus:

Hog fans boo Missouri media for question about Anderson’s departure | Multiple references to filling up Bud Walton Arena again | First “interview” with Chuck Barrett (video) |”If you see me in a fight with a bear, you better help that damn bear.” | Will throw out first pitch at UA baseball game | Financial details include $1.5 million buyout, must seek permission to talk to other schools | Slideshow: Photos from the news conference

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46 Months of Pel: Jeff Long Fires John Pelphrey

John Pelphrey at UA

John Pelphrey, from the UA website

University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long finally puts this men’s basketball regime out of its misery. This is really the best move for all involved.

ArkansasSports360.com had it all covered when The Word Came Down on Sunday. Top-line info:

Rob Evans will be the interim coach, a source said. Arkansas is currently waiting to hear if it has been picked to play in the NIT.

During his tenure as the Razorbacks’ basketball coach, Pelphrey compiled a 69-59 overall record and a 25-39 record in SEC games.

Pelphrey, who was making $1.2 million annually, is set to receive $600,000 per year the next three years as a buyout, totaling $1.8 million.

ArkansasSports360.com’s Chris Bahn notes that Arkansas sees this as chance to once again return to those halcyon days of national prominence. It’ll be a tough road getting there, starting with the search for a new coach, one Long says must have a proven record of #Winning (always a nice quality in a coach). It’ll cost ‘em, too, much more than the million-two they paid the Pel. There’s already several names bouncing around. But it’s Long’s hire.

Meanwhile, we pause to relive the magic of PelEra, whether we want to or not. Replacing Stan Heath in April 2007 — just before the original iPhone went on sale! — to March 2010, when Pelphrey got caught in a possible recruiting violation — possibly shot with an iPhone-like device!

Also: Pel keeps it classy, meets with the press today one final time.

After the jump, an oldie: Pelphrey talks recruiting.

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