What in the wide wide world of sports is going on? Hunter Yurachek tells Bob Holt that Razorback head coaches are cleared to schedule other in-state schools including Arkansas State. Look out Hunter. John Barnhill and Frank Broyles may be about to invade your dreams.
Well there is a catch. The new policy doesn’t include football. (for now)
Yurachek made it pretty clear that the decision is mostly economic. In the world of post COVID college athletics, at least for the short term, money is going to be tight. Playing in-state schools reduces travel costs and in many cases eliminates those costs if you can get those schools to come to Fayetteville more often than not. In low revenue producing sports this is a big deal.
I’ve always believed that Barnhill and Broyles had a right to their stance of not playing other in-state schools. They were in charge. If the fans didn’t like it they could say so. Few did.
The same is true of Yurachek. He’s the boss now. If Razorback fans think the change he’s making is bad for the school they’ll say so but I don’t expect much opposition.
The real issue is what Frank feared. That if Arkansas started playing other in-state schools, especially Arkansas State, the state would be divided. If Arkansas won and won big consistently over a school like Arkansas State the Hogs might come off looking like bullies perhaps generating additional fans for their instate opponent.
On the other hand any losses to Arkansas State might help their in-state recruiting and hurt Arkansas.’
And there is this: If you are an Arkansas State fan you would look forward to the day when an Arkansas-Arkansas State series developed into a rivalry like Auburn-Alabama or Oklahoma-Oklahoma State. Broyles position on that was simple. Arkansas and Arkansas State are not conference rivals. One plays in a power 5 conference, the other does not. Also Arkansas does not have the population base or enough in-state BCS talent to sustain a rivalry like that in revenue sports like football and basketball.
Is that theory valid? How would we know one way or the other unless those schools played regularly?
One thing I do know, the first time the Hogs agree to play Arkansas State in basketball and football it’s going to eventually become a regular thing. How could it not? The two fans bases would clash. The rivalry would be real and the Razorbacks would not be able to put the genie back in the bottle.