Arkansas State has been a member of the Sun Belt since the conference added football in 2001. After a somewhat shaky start under head coach Steve Roberts (including only one bowl appearance and the forfeiting of wins) Roberts would amass some serious talent in his final three seasons that lead to the most successful period in the school’s brief time at the FBS level.
These would be dubbed the ‘One and done years’ due to the fact that from 2011-2013 the Red Wolves had a new head coach each season. In 2011, Hugh Freeze would be named the head coach and lead his team to an undefeated conference season, a Sun Belt championship and a 10 wins then he would be off to his dream job as the head coach at Ole Miss. In comes Gus Mahlzan who leads the Red Wolves to their second straight Sun Belt champion and another 10 win season before making the jump back to Auburn as their new head coach.
Bryan Harsin would be next in line and guess what? Another Sun Belt championship and another coach leaves to coach his dream job only this time at Boise State. Blake Anderson has been there since 2014 and kept the program as an annual bowl team. They’ve had this success while also scheduling Power 5 teams out of conference. Teams like; Auburn, Oregon, Miami and Nebraska but there seems to be one GLARING OMISSION and it’s the school about four hours down the road.
So why don’t Arkansas and Arkansas State play each other?
It’s a loaded question that doesn’t seem to have a definitive answer. We’ve seen Arkansas play and sometimes lose to other successful Group of 5 schools so again, why isn’t this game played on a regular basis? It all boils down to long time Arkansas head coach turned Athletic Director Frank Broyles simply not wanting to.
The reasons are the following: tearing the state apart, recruiting, and the whole nothing to gain power move. Ever since his stance, Arkansas has just held course. But again the Razorbacks have played teams like UAB, Toledo, and Louisiana-Monroe. So isn’t it about time the Razorbacks to look in-state?
Arkansas State wants to prove themselves that they’re more than “little brother” and Arkansas sure would like to shut them up and put them in their place. Given Arkansas State’s success over the last eight years and Arkansas’ fall into mediocrity, there is no better barometer game.
How do we make this happen?
Well both football staffs have been known to run camps together in the past and the two have also met in other sports so there is at least lines of communication that are open. It’s going to take two headstrong athletic directors to come together and go against the norm to make it happen.
I’ve lived in Arkansas for decades - including the central part of the state and NWA.— Kurt Voigt (@Kurt_Voigt_AP) April 7, 2018
If the leaders at Arkansas are determined to keep games in Little Rock, I see only one viable long-term solution:
Arkansas State vs. the Razorbacks at War Memorial Stadium. Every year.
The Razorbacks like to play a game or two in Little Rock a year, right? This would be the perfect location for this game to take place given it’s basically halfway for both schools. It’d be a guaranteed sell out.
It’s time for this Sun Belt perennial power to be shown some love from the big boy in it’s own state. It’s time to give Arkansas State the chance it deserves.
MAKE. IT. HAPPEN.