To know where you are in the present, sometimes you have to look into your past.
For some, that can be a fun, healthy endeavor. For others, well, not so much.
Still, we're paying homage to the past and how it's affected the present in the SEC this week by taking a look at where each program was 10 years ago and where it currently stands. Some programs have made big leaps, some have steadied the course, and others, well, they're yearning for the days of old.
2006 record: 10-4 (7-1 SEC)
2006 coach: Houston Nutt
Notable: After a season-opening blowout loss to USC, the Razorbacks reeled off 10 straight wins, including a 24-23 double-overtime win over Alabama, a 27-10 win over then-No. 2 Auburn and a 31-14 win over then-No. 13 Tennessee. The two biggest names that powered that streak were the one-two punch at running back of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, both of whom ran for more than 1,000 yards and both of whom would later become first-round NFL draft picks in 2008. Interestingly, it was the beginning of Gus Malzahn’s college coaching career; 2006 was his debut season at that level as the Hogs’ offensive coordinator. It would be his only season in Fayetteville; Malzahn went to Tulsa after the season and the rest is history. Following the Razorbacks’ 10-1 start, they reached No. 5 in the national rankings and had national title hopes that were derailed by a 31-26 loss to LSU. Following that loss they fell in the SEC title game to Florida, which landed them in the Capital One Bowl where they lost to Wisconsin, who was coached by Bret Bielema, who found his way to Fayetteville in 2013.
Trending: Winning the SEC West certainly gave the feeling of a program on the rise but the season -- and postseason -- wasn’t without its issues. The circumstances surrounding Malzahn’s departure raised eyebrows: There were questions about the offense and Malzahn’s role. Parents of players Malzahn recruited from Springdale High School to Arkansas met with then-athletic director Frank Broyles, wondering where the no-huddle spread attack was (it was reportedly abandoned after the USC loss). Quarterback Mitch Mustain’s mother even issued a statement after said meeting. After the season, there were two high-profile transfers in Mustain and Damian Williams -- both Springdale products. And Nutt was left to defend himself all offseason from criticism following the three-game losing streak and it wasn’t just because of his football team’s end-of-year performance. Rumors flew about Nutt’s fidelity, his potential interest in other jobs and more after fans filed open records requests for Nutt’s cell phone records. So while a 10-4 season with a division championship was good, there was enough controversy to allow for an unsettling feeling around the program, especially since the Hogs were 9-13 in the two seasons preceding 2006.
What’s happened since: The next season turned out to be Nutt’s last at Arkansas, when the Hogs went 8-4. That ushered in the Bobby Petrino era, which had plenty of drama at the beginning and end of the relationship – the headlines Petrino made by leaving the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons with three games remaining in their season -- and the end, which came to be because of a motorcycle accident and subsequent discovery of an affair the married Petrino had with a 25-year-old football staffer. Petrino had some success at Arkansas -- they had consecutive double-digit-win seasons in 2010 and 2011, with his final season being his best at 11-2 -- but his abrupt firing in April 2012 led to a nightmarish season in 2012 under John L. Smith. The Hogs then hired Bielema, whose start was rough (3-9 in 2013) but who has the program trending upward again. Arkansas went 7-6 in 2014 with a bowl win and 8-5 last season, finishing tied for third in the SEC West. The Razorbacks seem to gradually be building back toward SEC West championship contention.