Here he is, everyone: the pampered athlete.
Four offensive coordinators and four quarterbacks coaches in four years. His redshirt wasted eight games into his freshman season to save a football team in the tank. His next two seasons on the brutal end of fan backlash — by no fault of his own — in a state where every day begins and ends with someone, somewhere, Calling the Hogs.
"You can sit back and say it was tough," Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick said,
"or you can do what you're asked to do and have faith that it will all work out in the end."
Want someone to root for this fall? Here he is: the mistreated athlete.
When the Razorbacks made the bold move last December to pull coach Bobby Petrino away from the NFL, all Arkansas eyes turned to Dick, the guy who couldn't get a break in his first three seasons. Now, the fans are hoping, he's set up for everything finally to fall his way.
Most college football observers say no one develops quarterbacks like Petrino. No one sees the game, understands defenses and calls plays like Petrino. No one prepares quarterbacks and puts them in better position to succeed.
Eight months ago, Dick was pretty good at handing off. Next spring, Dick will be rising on NFL draft boards.
"Casey will be successful because he works hard at it," Petrino said. And because — as much as anything — he has learned to persevere.
Three years ago, Arkansas was 2-5 and on the verge of its worst season in decades. So former coach Houston Nutt burned Dick's redshirt and threw him into the Southeastern Conference meat grinder. The Hogs went 2-2 the rest of the way, and the two losses were by a combined six points.
Just when it looked as though Dick's wasted season would be worth it, along came local hero and heralded recruit Mitch Mustain — and the Arkansas program hasn't been the same since. Mustain was 8-0 as a starter in 2006 but was pulled for Dick a series into that eighth start. Dick led the team to the Southeastern Conference championship game, only to get caught in the backwash of the Nutt-Mustain soap opera.
A year later — after Mustain had transferred to the University of Southern California — Dick's job changed again, this time to caretaker. He handed off to talented tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones and stayed out of the way — except on third-and-long, when he was asked to make a play.
Some say Dick was set up to fail in his first three seasons. Now he's set up to thrive in a scheme that has dominated college football this decade. In four years at Louisville, Petrino-coached teams finished sixth, first, seventh and second nationally in total offense.
And understand this: Dick didn't play poorly last fall. He completed 57 percent of his passes and threw for 18 touchdowns with 10 interceptions despite predictable play-calling.
Under Petrino, the offense won't sniff predictable.
"Our quarterback," All-America center Jonathan Luigs said,
"will be a quarterback this season."
Not a pampered quarterback, a prepared one. For the first time in four years.