Steve Sullivan, Wally Hall and Jim Harris talk at Little Rock Touchdown Club on 11-28-11

I enjoyed the Little Rock Touchdown Club and have posted a lot about it all fall. I have links below to earlier posts. Yesterday Wally Hall and Steve Sullivan had some good insights. Below are some of the thoughts of Jim Harris that he shared at the lunch.

BUILDING THE DEFENSE: How nice it would be if the state of Arkansas produced a handful of Parade All-American high school defensive stars or Rivals 4- and 5-star prospects like the states of Alabama and Louisiana have developed. Both Alabama and LSU have built their superb defenses mostly with homegrown talent. And, Donta Hightower’s case at ‘Bama, his Tennessee hometown is between Nashville and Birmingham and within an easy drive of Tuscaloosa.

Draw a circle with a 200-mile radius from Fayetteville, and do the same with Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge. Then note where many of the top high school players in the country have been produced the past five years; you’d see the disadvantage Arkansas faces in recruiting.

Within the state, Arkansas has produced just a handful of defensive players, period, in the past six years.

Petrino’s job in building a defense to match his prolific offense isn’t the same as what Les Miles and Nick Saban face. Petrino has to employ a much wider net and, if he wants a defense as dominant as LSU’s, somehow convince a half-dozen stars from other states to snub their home university and play for Arkansas instead. To be fair, LSU under Miles has extended its reach for defensive talent from east Texas to the mid-Atlantic (Sam Montgomery, for example, was one of the top prep players in South Carolina in 2009).

Arkansas’ been lucky in its past if the Hogs pulled in a couple of those playmakers occasionally. Usually, the source of that talent was Texas.

It’s no accident that Oklahoma State is ranked No. 3 in this week’s BCS poll, as much time as the Cowboys have spent recruiting Texas for 75 percent of their roster. It didn’t just start with current coach Mike Gundy.

Les Miles got things rolling in his time in Stillwater before landing the LSU job. The guy can recruit.

He’ll also eat grass, and he’ll make indecipherable declarations and surprise fans with out-of-the-norm calls. But he won’t point across the field at Nick Saban or Bobby Petrino or any other coach and curse him, fully aware that the TV camera is on him.

He also wasn’t running the score up on Arkansas early in the fourth quarter when LSU was throwing the football. Arkansas was still using run blitzes to futilely stop the LSU rushing game. We’re certain if Petrino and Arkansas had played it vanilla in the fourth quarter, Miles would have done the same.

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