Usually we have the games in Little Rock debate during the summer when everybody is trying to find something to talk and write about between baseball ending and the SEC Media Daze for football.
Now it’s come up in February.
With the announcement last week the spring game scheduled to be played there will be held at Razorback Stadium, nobody should really be surprised. When the contract was done it was pretty plain to see all of the games were contingent upon approval by the league.
It’s really the only move that makes sense politically for both the state of Arkansas and the university. Everybody can blame the SEC, who really doesn’t care.
The Razorbacks really should have quit playing games there about 40 years ago. That was when I first suggested it after standing under the stands in the spring of 1978 and considered swimming back to the elevator up to the press box.
It’s the same basic seating capacity of 40,000 until they lowered the field and narrowed the spacing allotted for seats to get to around 53,000, then lowered it again to get up to 54,000.
War Memorial Stadium served a purpose at a certain time but not in the last 20 years. It’s actually a negative for the Hogs to play there the last 10 years or so, especially since they lose a recruiting weekend because of it.
For a school that apparently spent nearly $2 million recruiting players that couldn’t be coached to win more than four games over the last two seasons, well, you can’t afford to give up anything trying to get the wheels back on the wagon and at least wobbling down the road.
As a native of Southeast Arkansas, I grew up going to games in Little Rock. There are a lot of fond memories of time spent there.
It’s nostalgic for some folks. That’s defined as “a sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.”
The key there is the past. A new interstate that makes driving from Central Arkansas to Fayetteville a breeze now eliminated a big part of that and changing NCAA rules make it essentially a true road game … for the Hogs.
While it may be functional for some high school games, it is not a venue suitable in any way, shape, form or fashion for big time football. Maybe 40 years ago it fit in, but not in this day and age.
Don’t buy the tired old line of losing donors. That was tried reducing the number of games from four to three, then two. The same donors that made the threat kept writing checks. Ego won’t let them stop.
With every game on television live these days, most of college football is struggling with attendance. If Hunter Yurachek wants to put folks in the seat at Razorback Stadium he might want to consider putting in modern seating instead of aluminum bleachers and modernizing some things.
You want fans in a day and age when they can watch the game on their phone from a deer stand or bass boat, well, you better make it comfortable and convenient.
They know all this, by the way. Show them the money and they’d probably be all in for it.
It has been suggested the Hogs play Arkansas State at War Memorial to kick off each season, creating a rival (which is something Arkansas really doesn’t have, by the way).
Sorry, but no. The Razorbacks should not play ASU anywhere except Fayetteville. While some folks in Jonesboro are ready to play the Hogs anywhere, any time, that probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon.
It would be fine, but the Red Wolves should come to Razorback Stadium. Every year.
While fans can continue to have nostalgic feelings about War Memorial, college football is a business, especially in the SEC where it is big business.
And playing games in a relic of a stadium so folks can feel good about the past probably isn’t the best business decision.
Aggies haven’t played a game in February, but planning on tourney
Tom Murphy of the Democrat-Gazette sees a scenario where Texas A&M backs out of postseason, but don’t count on that being the Aggies’ choice.
Texas A&M hasn’t played a men’s basketball game in the entire month of February due to the covid-19 stuff and some bad weather.
Tom Murphy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said Monday morning on the The Morning Rush with Tye Richardson and Tommy Craft on ESPN Arkansas that he could “see a scenario” where the Aggies just quit playing this year.
They haven’t played in February. The last game was Jan. 30 against Kansas State. They are sitting on an 8-7 overall record and 2-6 in the league. Their game Tuesday night against Kentucky has already been postponed.
Either Buzz Williams doesn’t want to try and deal with all of the changes or couldn’t manage recess at playschool.
But he told Olin Buchanan of TexAgs.com the Aggies have no intention of bailing out on whatever is left of their season.
“Our guys want to play,” Williams said over the weekend to TexAgs. “As soon as we can play, we want to play. We were scheduled to play today (against Arkansas). We were going to meet the SEC minimum on guys suited up to play. We were going to play, and those guys that were able to play were excited to play. Those that weren’t (able to play) understood why they couldn’t.”
Let’s be clear on something here. The Razorbacks haven’t had to postpone a game. Tulsa and Texas A&M have canceled games.
And the Aggies, in true fashion that makes you wonder what the hell is going on down there, bailed out as Eric Musselman and his team was getting on the bus headed to College Station (sort of like TCU did with the Texas Bowl at the end of December).
All of this is driving Musselman crazy, probably because it’s decisions being made by other people. He isn’t particularly crazy about practice and wants to play games.
They tried to play Arkansas State over the weekend after the Aggies canceled, but the coach over at the community college in Jonesboro either didn’t have the stomach for it or couldn’t figure out how to do it.
Naturally, he covered it with not being in the best interest of the Red Wolves, which means he probably figured playing the Hogs right now might be a distraction or something.
But don’t look for A&M to back out of the SEC Tournament unless the league just forgets to put them on the schedule.
“We’ll do whatever they want us to,” Williams told TexAgs.com. “We’ll be happy to play whoever it is at that time will be able to play. They’re (A&M players) anxious to play now and have been anxious to play.”
The Aggies hadn’t had a positive test since returning from a game with Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, on Jan. 30 and it’s apparently cycled through the entire program.
Teams must have one coach and seven scholarship players to meet the SEC minimum standard required to compete and A&M practiced with just four players a couple of weeks ago.
They thought they had turned the corner until the winter storm swept across the south and basically shut down College Station with snow and ice plus delaying results from covid testing.
When they got the results on Friday, another positive test forced the postponement of the Arkansas and Kentucky games.
The SEC Tournament won’t be pushed back because we’re now in a time crunch where these basketball tournaments HAVE to be played, especially the NCAA Tournament, scheduled for Indianapolis on March 18.
For financial reasons, they may take volunteers for teams to fill out the schedule.
But the Aggies are kind of like the relative who shows up unexpectedly and stays longer than you want.
For them not to play in the tournament they will have to be eliminated by the SEC because they aren’t going to say they aren’t coming.
“I don’t know exactly how that will play out,” Williams said.
Right now, nobody else does, either.
Van Horn knows February win over Texas means nothing in May
Arkansas shut out Texas, 4-0, on Sunday night at the State Farm Showdown and while some fans will celebrate, Dave Van Horn probably won’t.
Arkansas shut out Texas, 4-0, on Sunday night at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown and while some fans will celebrate, Dave Van Horn probably won’t.
“It’s just another game to me,” he said later when the question that always gets asked when the Razorbacks meet the Longhorns.
Exactly why it’s a big deal in any sport to Hog fans remains a mystery to me. It’s been just another game for the last 30 years.
Van Horn was more interested in Ole Miss and Mississippi State, who are also in Arlington playing games and the SEC is 5-1 (the Bulldogs lost to TCU on Sunday).
“There’s two other teams from the western division (of the SEC) that are here right now that are every bit as good as we are,” Van Horn said. “We’ve got our hands full with league play.”
Texas has been good in baseball before it became popular to be good in college baseball. Arkansas didn’t get around to having a whole lot of interest in the sport until the mid-1970’s.
“I have a lot of respect for their program and what they’ve done over the last 75 years,” Van Horn said. “It’s hard to say it’s just another win because some of our fans love it when we beat Texas in anything but to me it’s just a good win for our program.”
Still, getting a shutout win over the Longhorns in a showcase college baseball series that wasn’t television is a big deal to a lot of fans.
“It’s hard to say it’s just another win because some of our fans love it when we beat Texas in anything,” Van Horn said to acknowledge he’s aware some of the fans get worked up over it. “To me it’s just a good win for our program.”
And it was a good win.
Peyton Pallette allowed only one hit over 4.1 innings of work, retiring the first six Longhorn batters he faced.
He struck out two in the first before striking out the side in the top of the second.
Pallette, from Benton, worked around a base-loaded jam in the third, collecting another punch-out along the way, and then set down the Longhorns in order in the fourth, grabbing his seventh strikeout in the frame.
He struck out the very first batter he faced in the fifth before he was pulled for pitch count, finishing the outing with eight strikeouts.
Pallette departed the ballgame with a one-run lead thanks to designated hitter Brady Slavens, who single-handedly powered the Hog offense on Sunday night.
The Olathe, Kansas, product drove in all four runs in the win, starting with his RBI single in the bottom of the fourth that put Arkansas up, 1-0.
Slavens then broke the game open in the sixth inning, launching a three-run homer to right center and putting the Hogs ahead by four.
Left-hander Caden Monke and right-hander Caleb Bolden came on in relief of Pallette and did their jobs in protecting the lead.
Bolden tossed four scoreless frames out of the bullpen, closing out the game and striking out seven to lock down Arkansas’ second consecutive win over a Top 10 opponent.
Sunday’s win was Arkansas’ sixth all-time shutout victory against Texas. The Razorbacks last did so during the 1988 campaign, taking down the Longhorns, 5-0, in Austin, Texas in 1988.
The State Farm College Baseball Showdown concludes Monday night.
Arkansas will look to continue its undefeated start, facing its third nationally ranked opponent of the year, squaring off against No. 10 TCU at 6 p.m. Monday at Globe Life Field.
Information from Arkansas Communications is included in this story.
Hogs open 2021 win a wild win over Texas Tech in State Farm Showdown
Hogs’ 13-9 win over Texas Tech on Saturday night in the State Farm Showdown wasn’t particularly pretty, but it was crazy … and still a win.
Arkansas’ 13-9 win over Texas Tech on Saturday night in the State Farm College Baseball Showdown wasn’t particularly pretty, but it was crazy.
“That was one of the craziest games I’ve been in in a while,” Dave Van Horn said later.
In a game that started late and finished even later, it went down to the final half-inning to determine things.
Maybe the best stat line of just how crazy the game was is the Hogs scoring five of their 13 runs on a wild pitch or balk.
Elijah Trest, who picked up the win in relief, started off by giving up a three-run homer in the seventh and somehow managed to hang around long enough to get the win.
“Very rarely does a reliever get a chance for a little bit of redemption to stay in the game and get him out for the next two innings,” Van Horn said. “We come back, get a win, and he gets a win personally.”
Zebulon Vermillion started the game and didn’t do particularly bad, giving up two runs on three hits over four innings, striking out four and walking a couple of Red Raiders’ batters.
Both teams managed to leave a small village on the bases (Arkansas 10, Texas Tech 9). At times, pitchers got the ball everywhere in Globe Life Park except over the plate.
“Both teams really didn’t play very well, didn’t pitch very well, they got a couple big hits, they took advantage of a couple mistakes,” Van Horn said. “We took advantage of a couple mistakes on them.”
In the end, though, the main thing for Van Horn was coming out of the mess with a win to kick off the season.
“I’m just proud of the way our team just kept fighting and fighting,” Van Horn said. “We fought hard to score those two runs to take the lead, and they come back and get hit by a hit pitch, a walk, a three-run homer and now we’re losing again.
“We didn’t get all uptight, we just kept fighting, and it was just a good night for us.”
Now the Hogs face Texas on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Sunday’s meeting will be the 89th between the two programs. The series dates back to 1974 when the Hogs and Longhorns met annually as members of the SWC from 1974-91.
The Longhorns hold the advantage over the Razorbacks in all-time meetings, leading the series, 56-32. Arkansas, however, has won five of the last six matchups between the two teams.
Information from Arkansas Communications is included in this story.
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