Arkansas vs. Arkansas State — the sooner, the better
So, if the Arkansas vs. Arkansas State argument has been fought every single year for as long as I can remember, why bring it up again? That’s simple — it makes a lot of sense for Arkansas to add Arkansas State to its out-of-conference schedule. However, that simply hasn’t been done.
Here’s the thing — Arkansas pads its schedule with cupcake games every single year. This season started with the Hogs whipping Tennessee Tech 44-3 and then rolling over University of Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) 31-7 the following week. On Nov. 13, the Razorbacks are scheduled to crush the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).
Tennessee Tech? ULM? UTEP? Who the heck cares? Yeah, we’ve all heard the argument that Arkansas needs to schedule some gimme games every year because the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is tough and, well, the team could use a break here and there. Besides, every other team in the SEC pads their schedules with such contests, so Arkansas would be on an uneven playing field if it dropped the likes of UTEP and Northwest Central Iowa State Tech Southeast from its schedule and set up games against tougher non-conference opponents such as Texas and Oklahoma.
If we’re going to have those vaguely interesting contests against rent-a-win teams every year, why not schedule one against an in-state opponent that would actually interest fans? Think of it — an annual game against Arkansas State would be a hoot. Those things would be sold out every year as fans of both schools came out to support their teams. Contrast that with the sparsely-attended contests against ULM, Troy or whoever the Razorbacks have scheduled for a good beating.
Here’s another thing — that game could be held in Little Rock every year, thus helping meet that two-game quota the University of Arkansas has with War Memorial Stadium. Little Rock is close to the UA in Fayetteville and Arkansas State in Jonesboro, making it easy for fans to attend the game.
There’s also the matter of revenue. Non-conference schools generally get paid pretty well to get whipped by Arkansas, so why not help out a school in our own state when setting up those games?
Of course, there are some arguments against such an annual contest and they’ve never made much sense to me.
Some opponents to the game have howled about recruiting. An annual UA/ASU game, they say, could hurt Arkansas’ chances of recruiting in its own state. Seriously? Since when did an SEC school compete against Sunbelt Conference teams for recruits? The more talented kids will want to head to the University of Arkansas and that’s not going to change if ASU gets a little publicity.
We’ve also heard that it would be catastrophic if the UA lost to ASU. I’m not buying that. Would it be any less catastrophic if the UA lost to UTEP? Remember back in 1992 when Arkansas lost to the Citadel? Head Coach Jack Crowe lost his job over that one — a traumatic game, indeed. How could losing to ASU be any worse than that?
There may be some top secret great reason that Arkansas doesn’t play ASU. Damned if I know it, however.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.