A week or so ago, a booster whose family has been donating and buying tickets for several decades approached me with a message.
It was as simple as it was surprising.
“It’s time for the Hogs to start playing Arkansas State,” he said.
To be honest, I didn’t need any convincing. I’ve been on the record for over 40 years as saying the Razorbacks should be playing the little school in Jonesboro … in ALL sports, not just football.
Frank Broyles had a simple answer that, well, really was just a BS solution to the problem that sounded politically correct and gave everybody an out.
It was Frank’s public belief that it would divide the state. He wanted the fans of the smaller college football teams to also be Razorback fans.
What he failed to grasp about, oh, the mid-1970’s was playing the smaller teams in the state wasn’t going to lose any Hog fans. I attended Central Arkansas in the mid-1970’s and it was easier on Monday mornings to find students that knew the score of the Razorback game than how the Bears did the previous Saturday.
Going to Arkansas games in Fayetteville it was not uncommon to see fellow students in attendance at those games. UCA (like some other college teams) scheduled their games around the Razorback games so fans could listen and follow THAT game before coming to the Bears’ game.
Things haven’t really changed.
Oh, the way they keep up with the Hogs has. The internet has helped that along tremendously.
In reality, less than three percent of the population of the entire state of Arkansas can squeeze into Razorback Stadium. That means 97 percent of the state is following the games on their mobile phone, television, radio or whatever.
Trust me, it’s not usual at a game between two other Arkansas schools for somebody to shout in the press box about the score with the Hogs. I’ve been there and seen it.
Playing other colleges in Arkansas isn’t going to affect the fan base one bit.
The UA has a problem in Little Rock and some new expansion in Fayetteville that may or may not cause some interesting financial situations. Only time will tell on the latter.
But the Little Rock problem could be solved by playing Arkansas State there. I’ll be honest, I’ve bounced back and forth between playing them in Little Rock or Fayetteville, but War Memorial probably makes more sense.
Give ASU 10,000 tickets to the game and no guarantee. That’s it, pure and simple.
Sorry, but splitting the stadium and giving ASU half isn’t fair. Now that would likely be a cheaper solution for the UA than paying some ridiculous guarantee to a Sun Belt team to come to Little Rock for a game.
And if ASU wants to come to Fayetteville every year they get a guarantee and the same number of tickets any other visiting team gets.
It would be a wise move for the state to rotate between UCA and UAPB every year, too. Play that game in Fayetteville. They get a guarantee, the money stays within the state of Arkansas and everybody benefits.
But if the argument is the Hogs will lose fans or support by playing those teams, then that’s simply a BS argument. This doesn’t cost Arkansas in recruiting, but could benefit other in-state teams. If a high school senior isn’t good enough to play for the Hogs at least he could play against them.
If they do, then there are bigger problems.