This is an excerpt from a column I wrote for Sporting Life Arkansas. There's a lot of change going around, and this is my reaction to it. This excerpt leads into my thoughts on the LSU game being moved from Thanksgiving Weekend, but read the full column to read my thoughts on the latest round of the Great Stadium Debate, Texas A&M going back to the JerryDome, white helmets, closed practices and the media's reaction to it, and more.
For what seems like most of fall camp, much of the discussion among Razorback fans has centered around traditions that have been threatened, changed, or, on the flip side, born. And when the school’s athletic administration, the SEC, or anyone else forces change, it can be hard to accept. Like dealing with the reality that Ben Affleck will be the new Batman. It just feels wrong, man.
These things don’t usually affect the game unless the change is the NCAA changing rules (like when they changed the kickoff rules in 2006 and Bret Bielema exploited a loophole against Penn State), but they can impact virtually anything else. A lot of the outrage proves to be overblown, but still, you can’t blame fans for being upset at losing things they enjoy or think are important to the program. Even if you just want to yell, "Yeah, it’s different, but it’s ok. And it might even be cool!"
Initially moving the LSU game away from Thanksgiving was the big story to come out of the release of the SEC’s 2014 schedule. Much of the, let’s say "disappointment" about this I think was misplaced. If the major concern with losing the placement of the LSU game is regarding the exposure and attention Arkansas gets the last week of the season, the far more important thing is to keep the same Friday slot Arkansas and LSU have held for most recent years. And there have been indications that CBS and the SEC are considering putting Arkansas and Missouri on Thanksgiving Friday.
What we’ve learned since college football began stretching games nearly the entire week, people will watch. A game with Missouri usually won’t carry the same weight nationally as the LSU game, but people will watch. And the higher ranked the two schools are, the more people will watch.
And Arkansas will still play LSU two weeks before Thanksgiving in 2014, and how often does Arkansas play nationally relevant mid-November games? There haven’t been many in recent years, but the ones that have happened (such as South Carolina in 2011) were significant because Arkansas was highly ranked as well. So I don’t think this move is a huge loss. Plus, I’m all in on some late-November snow games in Missouri. Think Bielema’s offense wouldn’t have a big advantage in that kind of weather?