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Arkansas vs. Arkansas State — the sooner, the better

By: 15 September 2010 3 Comments

Here’s a subject that’s been pretty much beaten to death here in the Natural State — the Razorbacks should square off against the Red Wolves.

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.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

3 Comments »

  • Garry Geel said:

    It was really useful. thank you so much for sharing this. I am going to share it with my friends. Thank you

  • Michael said:

    Arkansas State will play UCA this year in Jonesboro. Hopefully the lead-up, and excitement that game generates will motivate someone in Fayetteville. Doubtful though. The Hogs like to pretend to be a major program, but they hate the thought of proving it, even against “inferior” opponents. You don’t want to play some of the in-state schools in basketball, that is for sure. If you can lose to Troy, Western Carolina, Morgan State, App. State, etc., than you can also expect to lose to UALR and Arkansas State. Not every year, of course, but it is certain to happen. The Hogs are a joke.

  • Ethan C. Nobles (author) said:

    Actually, Arkansas is a major program as is every team in the SEC. Furthermore, I’ll not agree that the program is a joke — the program rakes in millions of dollars every year and few things get Arkansans stirred up more than controversies associated with the Razorbacks.

    That said, I do like the idea of making the Razorbacks “put up or shut up” by adding some in-state schools to the schedule. There’s really no reason not to do it. Oh, we’ve heard the “what if the Razorbacks lose?” or “playing such-and-such could hurt recruiting,” but that’s all nonsense — how could losing to ASU hurt recruiting any more (or less) than losing to UTEP?

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