Right now the feeling is the political excuse of future scheduling is the primary barrier between the matchup of Arkansas and Arkansas State, which is something that could be swatted around for awhile.
ASU athletics Terry Mohajir continued his stance of basically saying the Red Wolves will play the Razorbacks any where, any time, Wednesday with Tye Richardson and Tommy Craft (The Morning Rush) on ESPN Arkansas.
“I’ve always said that,” Mohajir said. “We’ll always play whatever makes good sense for people. We play one bye game every year and if it’s Fayetteville or Little Rock that’s good. Our fans will travel. It makes complete sense.”
That bye game, by the way, is when Mohajir’s plan every year is a big payday going on the road to play a Power 5 team. This year it’s Michigan, then Washington and Ohio State in 2023.
The Razorbacks have regularly scheduled teams in the Sun Belt, where the Red Wolves play. Until the football program fell the last two seasons through the seventh gate of football hell, it was almost always a win.
Hogs athletics director Hunter Yurachek knows all this. He was at Houston when they tried to schedule games against Texas, Texas A&M and other big-name teams, but nobody really wanted to play those games.
My argument for years has been why is that money going out of the state? The Hogs have played Sun Belt teams and SWAC teams regularly. Why can’t that money go to ASU and UAPB?
Frank Broyles’ argument that grew tired and old was essentially the Hogs didn’t need to stoop to that level with in-state teams.
“I think it was behind the times,” Mohajir said. “I understand why they didn’t play back then. It was a longstanding philosophy. It doesn’t change our world that much. It doesn’t really surprise me because the people were adamant.”
Now things have changed. Hogs baseball coach Dave Van Horn has been pushing playing in-state teams for a few years. There’s not really much reason for the schools not to play in non-revenue sports.
The elephant in the room has always been football and basketball. Now economics has speeded things along. It’s basically taken a global pandemic to speed up games against in-state schools.
Money is going to be a little less simply because there haven’t been games played. Aside from revenue generated it’s the chief marketing arm to get regular students.
“Everybody’s trying to reduce costs because no one knows what the future looks like,” Mohajir said. “No one knows what it’s going to look like this year.”
The dollars and sense (that’s intended, by the way) means ASU can travel to Fayetteville to play games cheaper than they can go to some other places.
“To be candid, I think they started looking at flights, flying people all over the country,” Mohajir said. “It’s our obligation to get competition and make it as fiscally possible as you can make it.”
While he certainly would look at something played in Jonesboro or Little Rock, he knows Fayetteville is likely the only option with a realistic shot of happening … and that’s where the games should be played.
“We’re open to anything,” Mohajir said. “When they are ready to do it we’ll do it then. If they want to play in Jonesboro, Little Rock or Fayetteville we’ll do it. If (Yurachek) wants to do it that’s great. It would create a lot, lot of excitement.”
He threw the ball into the Hogs’ responsibility, which is where this thing has been all along. It would be an easier scheduling situation for them because they can have one high profile game and three games a year against non-Power 5 teams.
ASU can really only schedule one game a year against a high-profile opponent. They need a few non-conference games they can win, too.
They tried it with Central Arkansas a couple of years back … and lost.
“They came into Jonesboro and beat us,” Mohajir said. “It doesn’t change your world. They brought a lot of people.”
Mohajir and Yurachek talk. How often they communicate is something only they know. Whether he’ll admit it publicly or not, Yurachek can drop one of the non-conference games on the Hogs’ schedule.
Contracts for games are simply the starting point for negotiations when one side wants to break the deal. Michigan did it with Arkansas a few years ago, throwing the Hogs’ football schedule into what should have been a good situation, but did send them on the road to Colorado State.
Forget this 2-and-1 stuff. That has happened a couple of times but if you’re not in one of the Power 5 conferences it doesn’t happen on a regular basis.
“Hunter and I have talked about it,” Mohajir said. “He’s completely open to it. He gets it. He’s also fighting a policy that’s been around a long time. If it doesn’t make good financial sense that would be completely different.”
Which means it makes perfect financial sense for both schools and the state of Arkansas.
And that also means extra time is needed to sort out the politics.