J. Frank Parnell: How Long Will Hogs Run From Rivalry


By J. Frank Parnell

This gap between college football’s regular season and bowl season is the perfect time to wonder why the University of Arkansas continues to turn its back on other schools in the state.

First, I’m a graduate of the University of Arkansas, a Hog fan. But I like to think I display a bit of common sense despite my loyalty, at least regarding this issue.

The big question: Why won’t the Razorbacks play the Arkansas State University Red Wolves?

Finished rolling your eyes? Let’s move on.

For years — certainly during the reign of coach and athletic director Frank Broyles — we heard there was nothing to gain by the state’s largest university. If the Hogs win, well, they were supposed to. If they lose, embarrassment ensues.

The other argument is even sillier. Arkansas is a small state that produces few athletes worthy of Division I football. If the Hogs lose to the Red Wolves, those athletes would be more likely to defect to Jonesboro. It’s all about recruiting, right?


Most in-state players offered scholarships by the UA play for the Hogs. The ones that don’t often have family ties to other schools or they want to play for a higher-profile program; ASU’s not going to attract those kids anyway.

The Hogs would beat the Red Wolves most years. An odd victory by ASU would not change the recruiting game in the state.

Consider Kentucky, not a state known for football recruiting. The University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University play in different conferences, yet those schools mix it up on a regular basis. There are similar situations in states across the country; Arkansas is the oddball.

I’ve also read that ASU wouldn’t want to play Arkansas. That sounds good if you’re worried about self-respect, but if the offer from Arkansas ever came, who believes ASU would reject it?

Here’s another nugget to contemplate during this lull between the Army-Navy game and bowl season (besides the playoffs in smaller divisions, which often are great fun to watch): Arkansas is looking for a rivalry game.

The Golden Boot trophy was introduced in 1996. It was intended to build the rivalry between Louisiana State University and the UA. Well, sort of. At best, it’s a friendly rivalry. I don’t think LSU and UA fans despise each other.

LSU and the UA first played in 1901 (LSU won, 15-0); LSU leads the series 37-22-2 and leads 12-7 since the Boot was created. From 1996-2008, the game was played the day after Thanksgiving, which added to its glamour.

Next came the Battle Line trophy, another gaudy, oversized piece of hardware. The Hogs won the first one in the 2015 regular-season finale by beating the University of Missouri, 28-3.

By the way, LSU and Missouri have no problems playing in-state schools. LSU would have started the 2015 season against McNeese State University (Lake Charles) had the game not been canceled because of bad weather. Missouri opened its season by beating Southeast Missouri State University (Cape Girardeau), 34-3.

Boosters hope the Missouri-Arkansas game will develop into a rivalry; maybe it will.

Who cares.

Arkansas has a natural rivalry waiting to bloom. All it has to do is schedule ASU every year. Play in Fayetteville, play in Jonesboro or, better yet, play in Little Rock. Let’s make it a party. UCA could play the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (or an Arkansas Division II school) in the afternoon, followed by the Hogs-Wolves at night.

Imagine the tailgating.

Let’s take another step. Why won’t the Hogs play the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff or UCA, the state’s only Football Championship Subdivision teams? They didn’t mind hanging 73 on Nicholls State University in 2014 (the Colonels and Bears are colleagues in the Southland Conference).

UCA is 0-2 against Arkansas. The Bears lost those games in the 1920s by a combined 92-0. UAPB and the UA never have played a football game.

Anybody remember the last time the Razorbacks played another Arkansas school? It was 1944, when the Hogs whipped the University of Arkansas at Monticello, 41-0.

By my count (I’m no statistician), Arkansas is 46-5-3 against other institutions in the state. These are the losses: 5-0 to Little Rock High School, 1901; 15-9 to Ouachita Baptist University, 1914; 6-0 to Camp Pike (military base), 1918; 13-7 to OBU, 1922, and 20-12 to UAM, 1943.

The ties were to Hendrix College (0-0) in 1920 and 1932, and OBU (0-0) in 1923. Hendrix has played the UA 17 times, more than any other in-state school.

World War II was raging the last time the Razorbacks and another Arkansas school knocked leather helmets. As the old ASU bumper sticker so succinctly put it: How long will the Hogs run?

Should the University of Arkansas Razorbacks play any in-state team in any sport ever?

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