Article from USA TODAY that I disagree with: Analysis Hoosiers should keep Arkansas coach Eric Musselman in Indiana


Analysis Hoosiers should keep Arkansas coach Eric Musselman in Indiana

Analysis: Hoosiers should keep Arkansas coach Eric Musselman in Indiana for the long haul


It’s too bad Baylor awaits in the Elite Eight, since Arkansas might have a good chance at the Final Four in another region — if transported down to the Midwest, it would be very easy to make a case for the Razorbacks being the team to beat.

As it is, the way Baylor has looked in the opening weekend of the men’s NCAA Tournament paints the Bears not just as the favorites in the South but maybe the best team in the bracket, period, will all due respect to still-unbeaten Gonzaga.

Not to say coach Eric Musselman’s team won’t have a shot: Arkansas can run, shoot and most of all defend, three qualities that in tandem have the No. 3 Razorbacks back in the tournament’s second weekend for the first time since 1996.

Arkansas held Texas Tech to just 36.1% from the field, including 29.2% inside of 3-point range, and came up with several late stops in a 68-66 win to advance to the Sweet 16.

“This is why I came here. I came here to win,” said senior guard Justin Smith, a graduate transfer from Indiana. “And that’s it. And to have it come through, to come through fruition, it’s a testament to all the hard work we put in. We’re just gonna keep on going and see how far we can go.”

But the greatest tournament intrigue surrounding Musselman and the Razorbacks comes from another source.

The job at Indiana is open, again, and the Hoosiers are in the market for a savior, again, and — yeah, again — overtures pitched to some of the biggest names in coaching, college and otherwise, have been rebuffed.

Instead of dangling the job at current New York Knicks assistant Mike Woodson, an Indiana graduate who played for Bobby Knight, the Hoosiers should keep things simple: Don’t let Musselman leave the state.

He checks the boxes.

Musselman has spent more than three decades in coaching across an alphabet soup of competition levels: the NCAA, NBA, CBA, USBL and D-League.

The past nine seasons have come on the college level, as an assistant at Arizona State and LSU and the head coach at Nevada (2015-19) and with the Razorbacks.

He’s won at least 20 games in each of his six seasons as head coach and reached each of the past four tournaments, from 2016-18 with the Wolf Pack and again in his second year at Arkansas.

<img class="i-amphtml-blurry-placeholder" src="data:;base64,Justin Smith embraces coach Eric Musselman after Arkansas defeated Texas Tech in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Justin Smith embraces coach Eric Musselman after Arkansas defeated Texas Tech in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Musselman’s college teams have improved every season: Nevada won 24 games and the CBI championship in his first year — an achievement given the team he inherited won nine games a year earlier — and then 28 games in each of the next three, including a Sweet 16 berth in 2017 and a No. 9 ranking in the 2018 preseason Ferris Mowers Coaches Poll.

After going 20-12 overall and 7-11 in the SEC last season, Arkansas is 25-6 with as many NCAA Tournament wins in Indiana’s backyard as the Hoosiers have.

He’s been able to recruit: Arkansas’ 2020 class ranked in the top 10 nationally, according to

And if overlooked for much of the regular season even inside the SEC, where most national attention was devoted to Nate Oats and Alabama, Musselman’s team is strong across the board: seventh nationally in scoring offense, 43rd in made 3s, fourth in blocks, ninth in rebounds and seventh in steals, to name a few.

“It shows we can play with anybody. We’re going to be able to adjust and compete,” Smith said.

Musselman is “a coach that allows you the freedom, who allows you to play basketball,” he added. “The main thing, honestly, is just confidence. I think the way we prepare and we practice allows all of us as individuals to have confidence.”

By leading Arkansas past the Red Raiders, Musselman has already extended his stay in Indiana for another week. The Hoosiers should make it more permanent.

Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg

Razorbacks Remember Legend With Award

Uploaded on Aug 23, 2010

The Brandon Burlsworth Award will honor the former hog’s memory and help walk on hogs succeed.

By the playbook: Film about former Razorback Burlsworth scores with authenticity



86 Cast: Christopher Severio, Neal McDonough, Michael Parks, Leslie Easterbrook, Nick Searcy, Fredric Lehne, M.C. Gainey, Ed Lowry, David Bazzel

Director: David Hunt

Rating: PG, for thematic elements, some language and smoking

Running time: 130 minutes

By Philip Martin

This article was published August 26, 2016 at 5:45 a.m.


Actor Christopher Severio portrays Brandon Burlsworth in “Greater,” which opens Friday nationwide.

Greater tells the story of University of Arkansas standout Brandon Burlsworth, who is touted in the film’s promotional materials as “the greatest walk-on in college football history.” He may well have been.

After redshirting his first year, he not only won a scholarship but became the Razorbacks’ starting right guard, and in his senior year, an All-American. He was drafted in the third round by the Indianapolis Colts. And had he lived, there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t have started for the Colts his rookie year. He probably would have enjoyed a relatively long and lucrative career in the National Football League.

By all accounts, Burlsworth was an unfailingly polite, possibly obsessive-compulsive young man possessed of remarkable character and dignity. He was a hard worker, the antithesis of the stereotype of the entitled star athlete. He was the first Razorback player to earn a master’s degree (in business administration) before playing in his final game for the university. He had a deep and abiding Christian faith.

But in what would seem like a heavy-handed plot twist had it appeared in a young adult novel, Burlsworth died before he could play a single professional football game. Just 11 days after being drafted by the Colts, on April 28, 1999, a Wednesday afternoon, Burlsworth was returning to his hometown of Harrison after working out in the Razorbacks’ facility in Fayetteville. Near Alpena, on a relatively flat stretch of U.S. 412, his car clipped an oncoming 18-wheeler, then swerved and crashed head-on into a second truck. He was on his way to take his mother to church.

If you live in Arkansas, you probably know all this. If you don’t, you might be skeptical that anyone could be quite as earnest and decent as Burlsworth was. Maybe the unlikeliest thing about the film is how little truth it seems to change for dramatic purposes. While there is some compression of events and a brother (Grady Burlsworth) largely elided from the story, some of what seems Hollywooded up actually happened. Brandon’s mother, Barbara (Leslie Easterbrook), really was in the habit of telling her son to watch out for “big ol’ trucks” whenever he embarked on a journey. Brandon’s teammates really did drive him crazy by messing with the pens he’d laid out just so on his desk.

What’s most admirable about Greater is that, although it belongs to that class of films that is marketed (and sometimes dismissed) as “faith-based,” is that it insists on a certain humanity for the lineman. As in life, this Burlsworth isn’t perfect. We first meet him as a preteen (played by Ethan Waller), a junk-food loving football fan with no perceptible athletic talent — a slow, soft fat kid. (In real life, Burlsworth was a late bloomer. He didn’t develop into a star until his junior year at Harrison High. At the NFL combine in February 1999 he’d run 40 yards in 4.88 seconds, best among offensive linemen, and bench-pressed 225 pounds 28 times. And though he weighed 308 pounds and was just shy of 6 feet, 4 inches, he could dunk a basketball with two hands from a standing start. He wasn’t without God-given talent.)

As a film, Greater shares with its subject a certain straight-down-the-middle conventionality. Fayetteville-based producer Brian Reindl, a first-time filmmaker who worked 11 years on this project, seemed determined not to make a mistake. Director David Hunt similarly plays it safe, and even cinematographer Gabe Mayhan — who has demonstrated an extraordinary eye on other projects (including Josh Miller and Miles Miller’s All the Birds Have Flown South) — seems content to default to Hallmark Hall of Fame tastefulness. The football action scenes are especially well done. Lots of local faces pop up in small roles. The result is a fine, old-fashioned movie that hits all the expected beats and will no doubt be well received by people familiar with Burlsworth’s story.

But it’s not an adventurous film, and one might have hoped for a bit more nuance in the Brandon character (played as a young man with a certain appropriate stolidity by Louisiana actor Christopher Severio). Brandon’s good and humble and perhaps a little too naive — the only scene in the movie that feels false is his reaction to a few sips of alcohol his mischievous teammates slip him — but not particularly interesting. He believes what his mama, his coaches and his pastor tell him. He doesn’t need to see the big picture.

The filmmakers have enough sense to provide us with an alternate to this limited carrier of our empathy by framing the story through the eyes of Marty Burlsworth, Brandon’s much older brother. Marty, played by veteran character actor Neal McDonough (probably best known for his portrayal of super-villain Damien Darhkin the DC Comics-derived series Arrow, Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, though he also had a memorable arc as a bad guy on the 2012 season of Justified), is a fairly complex figure who undergoes an understandable crisis of faith after the death of his younger brother. Forcing the events of the film through the prism of Marty gives the movie whatever dramatic tension it achieves. (While McDonough seems too old to play a character who, in the movie’s earliest set scenes, is in his mid-to late-20s, he does some subtle work in what is by design not a terribly nuanced picture.)

In the film’s biggest departure from verisimilitudinous story-telling, a tempter figure, The Farmer (played by Justified veteran Nick Searcy), is introduced to call Marty’s attention to the random cruelty present in the universe. While it’s not the most original trope, it’s a lot of fun to watch these actors act.

In the end, Greater is not a movie for people who look to movies for something more than uplift or assurance, but that’s all right. It does no disservice to the memory of a young man who died before he should have, and it’s unlikely anyone will argue that it presents a false picture of Brandon Burlsworth. If it inspires people, especially young people, to do right and work hard, then it has accomplished more than a lot of more artfully conceived and daring movies.

MovieStyle on 08/26/2016

Print Headline: By the playbook; Film about former Razorback Burlsworth scores with authenticity


Greater: Official Trailer – Old #2

Brandon Burlsworth

Uploaded on Aug 31, 2011

Brandon was a walk on turned All American at the University of Arkansas. He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts and 11 days later was tragically killed in a car accident. The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation was founded in his name and has several programs: The Burls Kids program takes underprivileged children to all Arkansas Razorback and Indianapolis Colts home games. The BBF in partnership with Walmart provides eye care to 14,000 pre-K thru 12th grade students whose working families are trying, but still cannot afford extras like eye care and do not qualify for state funded programs. We hold football camps each year in Harrison and Little Rock and we have several football scholarship and awards including the Burlsworth Trophy, a national award given out to the most outstanding Division One college football player who began his career as a walk-on.

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