Arkansas made a surprising move this week by announcing the program had agreed to a two-game, non-conference series against Arkansas–Pine Bluff. While that may seem like standard scheduling practice for many SEC programs, the move was significant as the first game will end a 65-year drought of Arkansas not playing an in-state school in football.
The first game of the series will take place Oct. 23, 2021, with the second game scheduled for Aug. 31, 2024. Both games will be home games for the Razorbacks and will be played in Fayetteville.
During a recent appearance on Arkansas-based 103.7 The Buzz, Arkansas AD Hunter Yurachek was asked to share his thoughts on the decision to play an in-state team on the gridiron, and specifically, if he grasped how big of a decision that was to make to many Razorback fans.
“I probably don’t appreciate it as much as the people that have been born and raised around Razorback football and football across the state of Arkansas but I do appreciate from the feedback that it was important as I went around the state in my first year and a half in my tenure as director of athletics that we kinda open that door to start playing schools within the state of Arkansas,” Yurachek responded.
Naturally, the follow-up of a potential series against Arkansas State came up during the interview. Does Arkansas have any plans to schedule Arkansas State? While he clearly didn’t indicate that was in the works, Yurachek didn’t outright dismiss the possibility, either.
“I’m not going to say that it’s never going to happen, but what I’m going to tell you right now is we’re just taking a step,” he responded. “And that step is to open that up to schools within the system, and that’s what I felt comfortable with, that’s what the chancellor… You know we just weren’t ready to rip the bandaid off full board. We’ve got some schools in our system that it’s important for us to support like Little Rock, like Pine Bluff, and that’s what we’re doing at this point.”
Either way, the move is an interesting one and if the reaction proves to be mostly favorable from Razorback Nation, there’s still a chance that Arkansas and Arkansas State could one day meet on the gridiron while Yurachek is calling the shots in Fayetteville.