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Did Asa throw Hogs’ LR ball out of bounds to stop clock?

For Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the issue of the Hogs playing games in Little Rock could be a political football, considering the agreement ends when a second term would.



When politicians stray outside their lane, the best way to sort it out is to look at the election cycle.

If business nearly always follows the money trail, politics usually follows the election cycle.

In the recent issue with Razorback football games in a stadium that should never be hosting any SEC team, Asa Hutchinson handled it about the way you’d expect from a politician running for re-election for his last term as governor.

He basically threw it out of bounds to stop the clock.

No, we’re not going to stray into the murky waters of politics. And, no, this isn’t an agenda against a sitting governor. I like Asa and generally agree with him, but on this one it smacks of a political decision for convenience.

Hey, I’m old enough to have seen George Wallace get elected governor of Alabama running on both sides of the race issue in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I can believe just about anything when it comes to politics.

On this one, though, it’s hard to reconcile the economics of the issue with the main goal of Arkansas football, which should be about competing for championships.

Sorry, but it’s not about the tailgates on a golf course outside the stadium. To be honest, they could probably invest a lot less money in some giant-screen TV’s and let people tailgate outside War Memorial Stadium on gameday and many would have a better experience than they do now.

No, there’s not a single logical reason for the University of Arkansas to be playing an SEC football game in Little Rock other than a tradition that is backed up with footnotes to dead people or a time that no longer exists in the world of college athletics.

The rules aren’t the same anymore and if you think giving up a prime weekend of recruiting on the final week of the regular season (which happens to be on a holiday weekend) isn’t a big deal, well, most experts disagree.

Let’s face it, if the NCAA were to allow the Hogs to have official visits at Little Rock games, I might have a different point of view. They used to allow it, but the kangaroo court that governs college athletics doesn’t often collide with logic in the same sentence.

For Chad Morris, who is trying to build something special with the Razorbacks, it’s basically taking an extra round of important ammunition out of his arsenal every year. Recruiting and official visit weekends at home football games is that important.

Morris won’t complain, though. As he has said on a couple of occasions, he was a high school football coach and he’s going to win with whatever hand he’s dealt. Complaining takes away the focus of figuring out a way to win.

There are some that believe certain boosters won’t continue to support the UA’s athletic department if games aren’t played in Little Rock.

That threat has been made before. Somehow, though, the ego boost connected to an SEC team is big enough I don’t see it being a realistic threat, mainly because there’s not one or two boosters that give enough to control the UA’s decisions.


Besides, there are now enough excuses for the Hogs not to play in Little Rock to go all the way around. This agreement smacks of a negotiated settlement, but we’ll get back to that.

In this case, Asa is in the midst of a campaign for his second — and final — term as governor of Arkansas. If he’s re-elected, he will be leaving office about the same time the latest negotiated cease fire between the state capital and Northwest Arkansas expires.

For Asa, it’s a win-win situation and right now he’s not really concerned with the Hogs’ football recruiting.

When former athletics director Jeff Long was pointing out at a meeting last year why it was economically dumb for the Hogs to keep playing at War Memorial, the governor cut him off. He didn’t want to hear it. It’s likely he doesn’t want to hear it now.

In this latest negotiation, the best the governor could do was put the responsibility on the folks at War Memorial to make it work. That’s why the benchmarks are in the contract for stadium improvements, ticket sales and revenue.

While failing any of them doesn’t automatically cancel the contract, it does invoke mandatory conversations for 60 days.

At that time, Asa may get involved. Or he may not.

Of course, that’s assuming he wins in November.

If he doesn’t win, well, your guess is as good as mine how it would work out then.