How long will the hogs run?
As long as they want to as far as I'm concerned. When I was a member of the team, all the way until about 2010 or
so I wanted us to play Arkansas more than anything. However things have changed, and if we continue on this path Arkansas will need this game much more than we do. Let me break it down for you.
We've finally taken a logical approach to scheduling. We plan on playing one big money road game, one home game against an FCS team, two home and home series against teams about at our level, and eight conference games.
There's talk that the Sun Belt will switch to a nine conference game schedule meaning we'll play one road money game, one home FCS game, and either another home or away game against a non-AQ school depending on if we have five conference home games that year or not.
If the Razorbacks decide they want to schedule us things could get interesting and it would probably be in our best interest to walk away from the game. If they offer us say $500,000 to play in Fayetteville and around 2,500 tickets for the game we end up in a tough situation.
If we decide to take the deal we more than likely need to drop a home game from the schedule to keep the total revenue intact. Our other option would be to cut out a true money game that season, but then we need to find another $500,000 or so in revenue to maintain the status quo.
I keep hearing and reading comments from Razorback fans saying "they have nothing to gain from a game with state." I beg to differ. The U of A has everything to gain and nothing to lose, and it's close but not quite opposite for ASU. By now the majority of Arkansas has figured out we are on a different level then UCA or UABP.
They've also learned we have the ability to play with the big name teams across the country.
We are a program that is making the state proud at a time where the flagship school in the state is struggling to get any positive attention.
If we played a game against Arkansas and lost by 20 or more the Razorbacks can enthusiastically say "we told you so," and remove the doubt that has been building over the last several seasons.
A Razorback loss to us over the next three or four years doesn't really do much more for us other than bragging rights. They'll point to "we are in rebuilding mode." I do believe we would accelerate our growth with a win over their school, but not near to the extent most people think. And a devastating loss to them would potentially be a momentum killer.
We have the ability right now to continue to build our program up to the point where the hogs need a game with us to prove they are still the state's premier program. When such a time comes we need to be bold and not jump at the first offer. They game needs to be set up as a truly neutral game at War Memorial with each team getting a 50/50 split in tickets and revenue for the game, and the officials need to come from a conference not affiliated with either team.
We drew over 30,000 fans for a cold Thursday night home game in November against a conference rival that hasn't made a bowl since joining the Sun Belt and up until this season has typically been a middle of the pack team. Let's focus on making 30,000, ten plus wins, and a bowl game each season the standard and growing our program and making the right decisions for our school. Would I like to see a grudge match against U of A?
When the time is right and it makes sense. We don't need to hamper the growth of our fan support and sacrifice a carefully crafted plan just for a game against a team that didn't want to play us until they got to a point that they needed to beat us to stay relevant.
Bo Mitchell is a former football player at Arkansas State, his opinions in this column is his own, and not necessarily the thoughts or opinion of AStateNation.com.