The Dream Job
The Dream Job WRITTEN BY Mike Neighbors
WRITTEN BY Mike Neighbors

“To Mike: Best wishes to a future Razorback All-American.”

That was the message inside the first book my grandad gave me when I was 10 years old. That book was “Hog Wild” and that message happened to be written and autographed by then Arkansas Athletic Director and former Head Football Coach Frank Broyles, who the book was about.

My grandparents would take a different grandchild to each Razorback home football game. They didn’t have season tickets for all of us and on one of those trips my grandad got the book.

Always wearing red and usually wearing my No. 32 jersey (I loved Sidney Moncrief), I tried really hard in baseball and in basketball. I even tried football, but I knew that wasn’t going to work out for me. I wasn’t good enough to be a Razorback All-American.

Mike Neighbors

Mike Neighbors

For as long as I can remember, it was always my dream to grow up to be a Razorback. Once that didn’t happen it became ‘Well, let’s be a coach. Let’s be an All-American-type coach at the University of Arkansas.

That became the dream.

The University of Arkansas has been a special place for as long as I can remember. I used to cry when the Razorbacks lost until a very embarrassing age.

I remember where I was when:

• U.S. Reed hit the half-court shot to beat the defending national champs, Louisville.

• The Arkansas women beat Texas to end their 132-game Southwest Conference win streak.

• Christy Smith went sliding across the floor to send the Razorbacks to the 1998 Final Four.

Mike Neighbors

I can only imagine how many more memories that will come back when I land in Fayetteville. It’s where I got my start after my high school career and where I proudly earned my degree.

What I know now that I didn’t know then was that those four years prepared me for the next 40 years of my life. What I know now is all the classes I took and all those days in the computer lab got me ready for all of the times ahead.

Everything I needed to know I learned right here in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I’m going to be able to share and point it out now that I’m living my dream. This is the dream job. It’s always been my dream job and everyone has known it.

Those experiences and mainly the people I met during my four years in Fayetteville allowed me to now be prepared when the opportunity arises to live out my dream.

Mike Neighbors

Those four years did prepare me. I didn’t know it then. I didn’t know it was happening behind the scenes. I hoped it had. I’m going to be able to sit down in every recruits’ home for as long as I’m coaching and tell them that ‘You can come to the University of Arkansas and make your dreams come true. Because I did.’

My program will be built on three things. It’s very simple.

TRUST – The highest form of loyalty that has to be earned, managed and sometimes re-earned. If we don’t have this, nothing will work and the stool’s legs will fall off and everything will collapse.

TALENT – It doesn’t mean you can dribble, shoot, pass and rebound. It’s a lot of other things like the ability to engage with the fan base and willingness to sign autographs for a 10-year-old child you might be inspiring.

TIME – It’s just not being on time or making time. It’s how you utilize your time and who you invest your time with and be around.

Trust, talent and time. Those will be our pillars.

Mike Neighbors

When I hear my name introduced, there will be a lot of people that will tell me my grandad would have been proud. I know how much this means to my family.

It’s more than a dream. A lot of the time, things like this don’t live up to the expectations that you establish in your dreams. This will exceed it.