I don’t know who the next Razorback football coach should be, but Dr. Fitz Hill should be the University of Arkansas’ next athletic director.
Hill until last year served as president of Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock. The historically black school, founded in 1884, was in a death spiral when Hill arrived there in February 2006. Its student body had dropped to less than 200. Its facilities were in disrepair, and its centerpiece, Old Main, was a decaying hunk of brick and mortar. It was only a matter of time before the school closed its doors.
That’s when Hill showed the difference one man with a vision, a dream and a lot of passion can make. He determined that ABC would be the college for students other colleges rejected. He recruited people off the street, offering them a chance for an education and redemption. The college’s enrollment grew well past 1,000. He inspired the support of heavy hitters such as former Alltel CEO Scott Ford while taking advantage of the government’s New Markets Tax Credit Program. As a result, Old Main was completely refurbished, and many other improvements were made on campus. Finally, Hill made ABC’s mission about much more than just granting degrees. The school housed a program for prison inmates, offered a GED program, and took over a crime-infested car wash down the street, using the proceeds to purchase nearby rundown homes.
Truly, ABC became not just a college, but an opportunity center. He simply would not accept that some people are fated to fail. Continue reading The next University of Arkansas athletic director? Put it on the Fitz
By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.
Problems are not hard to find, but there’s also much good in the world if we look for it. In the spirit of this Thanksgiving season, let’s do that for a change.
In Iraq and Syria, ISIS is all but defeated. After taunting the world with their cruelty and barbarism, the jihadists have lost one city after another. When Iraqi and American-led coalition forces last week retook the city of Rahway, ISIS was left with only isolated rural areas in that country, and Syria is in a similar situation. Remember that black-clad spokesman who would threaten the world and then behead an unfortunate victim, all captured on video? He’s long dead, and the fighters that remain are now surrendering.
The defeat of ISIS is liberating Iraqis and Syrians from that horrible group. Meanwhile, millions worldwide are being freed from another type of bondage. In 1990, 1.9 billion people lived in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 a day, according to MDG Monitor, published by various United Nations agencies. In 2015, that number had been more than cut in half, to 836 million. That’s more than a billion fewer people, even as the world population has grown. In 1990, nearly half of all people in developing nations lived in extreme poverty. By 2015, that figure had been reduced to 14 percent. Continue reading Be thankful, because it’s not all bad
By Steve Brawner
After 2,310 days in foster care and 24 caseworkers, Chase Bailey was adopted Jan. 10 by a mom who had insisted that the only way she would ever adopt a child was if Jesus descended from heaven and told her to do so.
Dawn Bailey and her husband, Brad, had two daughters out of the home and a third who was a pre-teenager, and they could see the empty nest in the distance. Then three friends over a weekend sent her a link to 15-year-old Chase’s story, told by KTHV’s Dawn Scott in one of her regular “A Place to Call Home” features about children waiting to be adopted.
After tears and prayer, they decided their home could be his place.
Continue reading Their home was his place
By Steve Brawner
After the Arkansas Razorbacks’ field goal kicker – a college kid, let’s please remember – missed two chip shot field goals against TCU Saturday, Coach Bret Bielema said, “We’ll go for it every time, or we have to find a new kicker.”
If the first option is the case, the Hogs wouldn’t be plowing new ground. At Pulaski Academy high school in Little Rock, they’ve been going for it every time on fourth down – regardless of field position – for years, and won six state championships.
Head Coach Kevin Kelley created his unorthodox style after reading books about human nature and mathematics and deciding that the rewards of having four downs to make 10 yards outweighed the risks of not punting. That same analysis led him to try an onside kick on most kickoffs, giving his team a chance to recover the ball, rather than kicking it downfield.
Kelley doesn’t even punt when backed against his own end zone, where failure means giving the other team the ball yards from a touchdown. His analysis of college teams found a punt from that position would give the other team great field position that would likely lead to a touchdown anyway, so you might as well try to keep the ball.
Kelley’s style and success have made him somewhat famous in the sports world. Pulaski Academy is a nationally known program whose game with Louisiana’s Parkway High School was televised on ESPNU Sept. 15.
You’d think other coaches would want to copy him, and they do listen to him. But coaching is a risk-averse profession with limited job security. One coach told him he could be fired if a fourth down attempt in his own territory failed and he lost the game, whereas his job is safe if he loses that same game playing conventionally. Continue reading How to be fearless on fourth down