Mike’s Take: The Decision on Spring Game at WMS.

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There’s a much bigger issue at stake for Razorback fans in central Arkansas that the dropping of a semi annual spring football game at War Memorial Stadium. For one thing, at this point, it’s not clear how new head coach Sam Pittman plans to format that game.

Right now it’s simply listed as the final practice of the spring. Some coaches don’t see the value of splitting their team into two parts to play a game in order to entertain the fans. Some prefer more of a situational scrimmage. A series of plays on 3rd and long. Third and short. Inside the red zone moving out. Middle of the field. Goal line and special teams featuring kickoffs and punts. What they do in a regular Saturday practice in the spring.

That’s interesting, maybe, to die hard fans but probably not so much to typical fans that want to go and watch an actual game. Whatever Pittman decides on that, the real issue has always been, and remains, that semi annual SEC game at War Memorial against Missouri. It was considered a good compromise when the contract was drawn up two years ago because the students are gone on campus for Thanksgiving week and the crowds in Fayetteville are smaller. The following year the game is played at Missouri so it’s not an issue for Arkansas in terms of selling tickets. But there is another important issue to consider. The football coaches cannot offer official visits to recruits for games played off campus. They have to balance that fact against losing a presence in the central part of the state.

Some have pointed out that schools like Alabama and Auburn stopped playing home games off campus years ago. Why should Arkansas? I can give you an answer to that: Seventy plus years of tradition. There are things about Razorback athletics that are different from other schools. The athletic department acknowledges this with a game a year in central Arkansas in basketball and baseball. Both Eric Musselman and Dave Van Horn support those games as important to their programs.

So how does Sam Pittman feel about the semi annual game there in football? Pretty sure he has not said and what he thinks will likely have a lot to do what what happens next. There is also the issue of improvements to War Memorial spelled out in the current contract with the stadium commission. The first round of improvements has been made. I’m told that around four million dollars worth remain. Is the money there?

Personally I’d like to see this game continue. In fact I’d like to see one game a year played there every year just like with basketball and baseball. But it’s not up to me. I will be very interested to see what happens next with the contract between the athletic department and the War Memorial Stadium Commission.

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