Thursday, December 9, 2010


Ryan Mallett (AP Photo/April L. Brown)
COLUMBUS — When Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez as head coach following the 2007 season, it seemed that the zone-read offense — which he was surely to employ in Ann Arbor — wasn't going to fit the skill set of the Wolverines' young star quarterback, Ryan Mallett.

Mallett, who was considered perhaps the top quarterback prospect coming out of Texarkana (TX) High School, knew that his pocket-passing style wouldn't be a good match with the Rodriguez run-first mentality.

So, Mallett left Ann Arbor prior to the 2008 season and transferred to Arkansas.

"What was my reaction when he left Michigan?" Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel smiled. "I mean, I'm not going to lie to you ... I was happy.

"I thought I was through with Ryan Mallett."

Well, as everyone knows now, that last comment by Tressel has been proven false, as Mallett's No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks (10-2) will take on the No. 6 Buckeyes (11-1) in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on January 4.

Tressel certainly knows what kind of game Mallett brings to the table.

"Great size, with a lightning quick release," Tressel said of Mallett. "His arm strength I thought back when he was a freshman was extraordinary. The bits and pieces I've seen on highlights and so forth, he's one of those special guys. I think he's going to play for a long time at that position."

Mallett — who is ranked in the top 10 nationally this season with a 170.5 passer rating (3rd), 3,592 yards (5th) and 30 touchdowns (7th) — has developed into an NFL-caliber quarterback during his time in Fayetteville. In fact, under the tutelage of head coach Bobby Petrino, Mallett has worked himself into a possible top five pick according to some NFL draft experts.

Mallett could definitely help his stock with a well played game against the Buckeyes.

"It's going to be a fun game," Mallett said. "It's two great teams."

Of course Mallett, being a Wolverine once, still has a little distaste for the guys in scarlet and gray.

"I don't know if it's something you can say on air or in the paper," Mallett laughed, when asked his feelings about Ohio State.

Mallett saw limited action against the Buckeyes as a freshman in 2007, completing just 1-of-3 passes for eight yards in the Wolverines 14-3 loss in Ann Arbor. The lack of success against the Buckeyes just throws more fuel on the fire.

"I had the traditional rivalry hatred. I've still got a little Michigan in me from that," Mallett said. "I've never really been a big fan of Ohio State."

Bobby Petrino
(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
PETRINO BOLTING AGAIN? ... After Urban Meyer announced that he was stepping down as head coach at the University of Florida on Wednesday, rumors began to fly around that Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino may be a top candidate for the Gators' opening.

Petrino, when he was at Louisville, emerged as one of Florida's top candidates in 2005 before the Gators hired Meyer. Petrino's offensive philosophy is quite similar to Meyer's, and his success at the collegiate ranks can be viewed as very attractive to Florida.

Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel said Petrino's system has been quite successful everywhere he's been.

"He's won with that system," Tressel said. "He has a system he knows, believes in and obviously he's taken Arkansas to a 10-2 record, which in that league — to be 10-2 — he's done a whale of a job."

If Petrino were to leave Arkansas for Florida before the end of the year, he would owe the university more than $3 million to buy out his contract.

It would seem that Petrino would want to coach his team in their January Sugar Bowl tilt with Ohio State, being that it's the first time in school history the Razorbacks have made it to a BCS bowl game.

Of course, Petrino up and quit on the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 to take the Arkansas job ... so who knows?