BURN THE HORSEI really thought this was an interesting link posted on the Trojan Town message board.
It is an all-time ranking of college basketball programs. UALR was tied for 114th position. Without doing the math for a lot of schools, that's probably about right. UALR was fourth in the Sun Belt Conference, trailing Western Kentucky, South Alabama and Louisiana-Monroe. ULM was a Southland power back in the day.
But what strikes me as interesting is the conversation. I think many UALR fans were surprised to see the Trojans ranked that high on a list like this.
When I used to travel with the team I was always struck by how much more respected UALR's program was outside the state of Arkansas. When I mentioned I covered UALR I was frequently met with praise for the program. Much of that stemmed from back in the 1980s, when Mike Newell built it into a powerhouse. People do still remember the Notre Dame upset in 1986. People do remember the big-time success the program enjoyed then. I was a high school kid in St. Louis at the time with no ties to Arkansas whatsoever. But I can remember watching Newell and the Trojans on national TV.
While UALR hasn't been consistently as successful on that same level since then, it has remained in the spotlight. Wimp Sanderson brought some attention to UALR. Derek Fisher's NBA success has continued to build the brand. And you can't discount current Coach Steve Shields' six championships in nine seasons (five division titles and one tournament title).
But I think most locals overlook most of that. It's obvious when you look at attendance and overall support. And that really is a shame for all involved.