How COVID-19 changed sports
Resurgence of the Razorbacks
Questionable call by refs gives Auburn win over Arkansas
Blake Anderson says goodbye to A-State
Longest alligator killed in Arkansas history
More bear sightings in the Natural State
Community rallies behind coach battling cancer
Dre Greenlaw plays in Super Bowl as a rookie
High school senior wins game on buzzer beater
Radio host fired for derogatory comments about basketball player
Football team stays in bubble to avoid COVID-19 before state championship
It was a weird year for sports in Arkansas due to the coronavirus pandemic, but through it all fans in the state finally got a brief respite from the news with sports continuing in different forms and retooled formats.
From the resurgence of Razorbacks football under head coach Sam Pittman to buzzer-beater shots, below you will find what we consider to be Arkansas's top 11 sports stories of the year.
Chapter one: How COVID-19 changed sports
While the pandemic may have put sports in jeopardy in the first few months, several organizations have found ways to continue playing while remaining as safe as possible.
In Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson made several announcements in the summer designed to provide clear instructions on how high school football and other sports could be played during the pandemic.
Many games were canceled throughout the football season and a team even had to forfeit its playoff game due to an outbreak on the roster.
And the SEC restricted the 2020 football season to just conference play, but several games have been shifted due to COVID-19 cases. And Razorback coach Sam Pittman had to miss a game after contracting the virus.
Chapter two: Resurgence of the Razorbacks
Out of the darkness of the 2019 Razorbacks football season came a beacon of hope in the optimism of Sam Pittman's coaching career in Arkansas.
But no one could have predicted the resurgence the Razorbacks had in 2020.
And while their record was only 3-7 this year, it's the way the team hung in there against stiff competition in the SEC.
Oh yeah, they also actually won a conference game (three to be exact), unlike another coach that will not be named.
Part of the reason fans and players are excited is because Pittman brings a sense of positivity and willingness to have fun, which hasn't been seen in Fayetteville in quite some time.
Chapter three: Questionable call by refs gives Auburn win over Arkansas
Of course, we can't talk about the Razorbacks without talking about that highly questionable call at the end of the game against Auburn.
Razorback fans contend the team should be 4-6 this year, but the official ruling on the field meant a 30-28 loss against Auburn, who was ranked 13th at the time.
But whether or not Bo Nix threw a backward pass or it was intentional grounding, the Razorbacks still have a lot of ground to cover in 2021 to overcome any weird officiating calls.
Chapter four: Blake Anderson says goodbye to A-State
Probably at the top of the list for many Red Wolves fans is the decision by Blake Anderson to say goodbye to Arkansas State after seven seasons as their head coach.
Although it's sad to see Anderson go, his legacy at A-State will live on. During his time there, he went to six straight bowl games, won two conference championships and built a winning culture at the school.
Before Anderson's arrival, A-State was used as a temporary coaching position for Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn for bigger jobs. But we have to believe that Butch Jones will continue the legacy Anderson has left behind.
Chapter five: Longest alligator killed in Arkansas history
If you had "longest alligator killed in Arkansas history" on your bingo card of top Arkansas sports stories on 2020, you're in luck!
Back in September, four Arkansans were out hunting when they spotted the huge gator in the water and took almost two hours before they were able to kill it.
The gator measured in at 13'11.5" and weighed around 800 pounds, breaking any known record in the state.
According to Trey Reid with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the alligator was the longest killed since the state has had an alligator season.
Chapter six: More bear sightings in the Natural State
Gonna go ahead and follow up the alligator story with a bear story, if you don't mind.
Okay, yes, it's not actually "sports" but we're throwing this in here because we have nowhere else to put it and we want to talk about it!
In May, bear sightings in the state began popping up and caused a stir on social media. From White Hall to Cabot and even in Little Rock, people were calling Game and Fish about bears.
Although bear sightings are not uncommon in Arkansas, they also aren't that frequent. So when you see a bear, make sure to call Game and Fish and let them know.
But also, stay the heck away!
Chapter seven: Community rallies behind coach battling cancer
Since the pandemic began, Coach Dakota Weatherly has had a rollercoaster of a year.
Not only did the head coach of Paragould baseball welcome a new child into the world, but he has been battling cancer as well.
In April, coaches from all over the state visited Weatherly to show their support in his fight against stage four metastatic melanoma.
He even got a video message of encouragement from St. Louis Cardinals legend Jim Edmonds.
"I can't thank them enough and I really don't have words to thank those people around the state," he told us.
Chapter eight: Dre Greenlaw plays in Super Bowl as a rookie
Of course we can't end 2020 without talking about the rookie season of Dre Greenlaw ending with him playing in the Super Bowl.
It's hard to remember that a Super Bowl happened this year, but it did.
As part of the San Francisco 49ers, Greenlaw had a stellar first year amassing nearly 100 combined tackles and an interception.
He brought that energy into 2020 with the playoffs but came up just short at the Super Bowl losing 31-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs.
And although the 2020 season hasn't been the best for the 49ers, Greenlaw has had another solid year racking up almost 80 combined tackles in 12 games.
Chapter nine: High school senior wins game on buzzer beater
Out of all the sports plays that have happened this year, this one still stands out to us.
Not only did it take place before the pandemic, but it is such a wild Hail Mary of a shot that it's a marvel every time you watch it.
To make a buzzer beater is exhilarating enough, but to make it from nearly full court? That's downright amazing.
Abundant Life senior Jared Meckfessel was ready to chuck that ball up in the air the moment it bounced into his hands and after a couple of steps, he hit a shot he will talk about for the rest of his life.
It's moments like this that make us remember why we love sports.
Chapter ten: Radio host fired for derogatory comments about basketball player
In the age of social media and bad takes popping up everywhere, Fort Smith radio host Darren Miner somehow made a statement so classless that he was fired from his job at KMAG 99.1.
In response to photos tweeted by Arkansas Razorback basketball freshman Erynn Barnum, Miner said, "Now they just need to install a pole."
His derogatory comment was immediately called out by a lot of people and even Arkansas women's basketball coach Mike Neighbors saying that "women in sports face this type of unfair, misogynistic treatment far too often."
The Razorbacks women's team responded to the comment he made in the best way possible with a great tweet. A show of solidarity against an internet troll.
Chapter eleven: Football team stays in bubble to avoid COVID-19 before state championship
Entering the playoffs, the Bryant Hornets were looking to make a historic three-peat state championship win and that meant going into a bubble to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak on the football team.
The school thought of the idea when watching the NBA season where every team in the playoffs stayed in a bubble to limit exposure to the virus.
And that bubble paid off as the Hornets defeated North Little Rock for their third straight state championship in football.