The argument for #RedWolves vs. #Razorbacks

In the State of Arkansas we have two Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS or D-1 if you prefer) programs that do not play each other in an in-state rivalry game. This, quite frankly, needs to change…immediately. Arkansas and Arkansas State have never met on the football field from what I can find, and haven’t met at all since the first round of the 1987 NIT Basketball Tournament. Do other states have this issue? In the SEC; Auburn plays Alabama, Mississippi plays Mississippi State, Tennessee plays Vanderbilt, Kentucky plays Louisville, Georgia plays Georgia Tech, Florida plays Florida State, South Carolina plays Clemson, THE LAST 4 AREN’T EVEN IN THE SAME CONFERENCE WITH EACH OTHER. Around the nation you can point to Utah playing Utah State and BYU who aren’t Power 5 conference members (The BYU-Utah game is taking a 2 year hiatus so Utah could play Michigan this year and last), Colorado plays Colorado State every year and Colorado State is not a Power 5 conference member. North Carolina has 4 teams playing each other in the same conference each year. As does California in the Pac-12, remember that USC-Fresno State game that Reggie Bush went crazy in? Both schools in California. It eventually will get to the point in this state where it will be weird if the Hogs and Red Wolves don’t meet in not only football, but basketball, and baseball. There is an easy solution for each one of the three games I just mentioned to take place. War Memorial Stadium, Verizon Arena, and Dickey-Stephens Park all in Little Rock, Arkansas. Before you get your heads all in a tizzy thinking about how this will affect recruiting, take a look at the 100 man roster for the Razorbacks. 69 out of state, 41 in state-that is clearly doing your work in the other 49. Here is another argument I hear that does not hold water: Arkansas would lose money. Absolutely not, Arkansas pays other lower tier FBS schools to come to either Fayetteville or Little Rock and more often that not get their heads kicked in at the hands of the Razorbacks. Arkansas paid Louisiana Monroe $950,000 to come to Little Rock in 2012. ULM won that game in what was one of the most embarrassing seasons on the Hill. Think about if it were Arkansas State that the Hogs played in War Memorial. They could split the revenue 50/50 on the 54,120 ticket sales, concession sales, merchandise sales, etc. If they could not agree to terms on a Little Rock venue, then a home and home series would be the next option to consider. That’s ridiculous you say, is it too far out of the realm of possibility? Arkansas’ newest rival Missouri is traveling to Jonesboro to play Arkansas State this season. If Missouri can, Arkansas should. Its a rivalry anything Missouri does Arkansas should be willing to do even better. Arkansas State is not just a run of the mill program anymore, they have become a program that competes in bowl games year in and year out. With this money coming in from traveling to other schools and bowl games, Arkansas State is in the middle of renovations: an $11 Million Student Activities Center (Indoor practice facility) that is 62,000 square feet; a $7 Million Press Box Expansion that is 40,000 square feet; and a $12 Million Football Operations Complex that is 53,000 square feet. That is not taking the football program lightly. Arkansas State is trying its dead level best to play with the big boys and it is time that the Arkansas Razorbacks (and their fans) took notice that little brother ain’t so little anymore. Centennial Bank Stadium now seats over 30,000 fans, a far cry from what Reynolds Razorback Stadium seats at full capacity, however that is the second largest stadium in the Sun Belt (after Louisiana-Lafayette). Perhaps with a game every other year at the venue, Arkansas State would expand the stadium around the northern perimeter and get this stadium into the 50,000 seat range. That would make for a lot of fans to come and watch a game. As for who would broadcast this game? That is pretty easy, the SEC Network would most likely take this game and run with it. The media likes the shiny new thing, market this as the Diamond Cup. The Golden Boot was created by former Arkansas Linebacker David Bazzel and I am sure there is someone in this state that could come up with a design that showed off our state being unofficially being nicknamed ‘The Diamond State’. One last reason I find that this should not be a series is “no one will bother to show up”. To me that is an absolute fallacy. Sure maybe some of the uppity fans from the U of A would not take this game seriously, but there is a whole contingency of A-State fans that are chomping at the bit to get their chance at the Hogs. I would love our state to have an instate rival. General George S. Patton once said that “Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is the best, it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one that lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood.” I think Arkansas vs. Arkansas State is the duty of both of these institutions and the fear of losing to the Red Wolves makes Razorback fans, the alumni, and media cowards. If you are not worried about the outcome because you believe in your heart of hearts that you can roll that big Hog helmet in Fayetteville, Little Rock, Jonesboro, etc. then play A-State. Arkansas deserves better than for you to turn your nose up to the other side of the fence and put your fingers in your ears and scream la la la when this issue comes up. Figure it out, in other states this game has been congressionally mandated to play and perhaps if we could get our state legislature involved we could really have this game in the Natural State played on a yearly basis.

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