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The Cost of Winning

Stepping away from on-field matters for a moment, Jeff Long and the folks who oversee the various U of A sports teams are facing an interesting dilemma these days:

* on one hand, you have a zealous fanbase that wants - and expects - to win regularly in what is easily the toughest football conference in America.

* on the other hand, your school represents one of the smallest, poorest states in the U.S. but must compete with teams from much bigger markets with much deeper pockets.

Chris Bahn took a look at the Razorback Foundation's 2009-10 annual report and is predicting that ticket price increases are on the way. For example, right now what's described as a "mid-field lower-level football seat" (in other words, a good one) can be had for a donation of $150...the cheapest in the SEC. The conference average is $672 per seat, with Florida, Tennessee and Alabama topping out at more than $1,000 each.

Continuing that thought, TJ Carpenter argues that if Hog fans want to compete with the big guys, they need to pay up like the big guys. "You can’t, as fans, say your team should be better when you’re responsible for the program ranking so low in the financial commitment game in the SEC," he notes.

But, on the flip side, the fact remains that Arkansas is a much poorer state than many of its competitors, and the economy still isn't exactly robust these days. So, asking people to pony up won't necessarily be well-received.

Having to make decisions like this is why Jeff Long earns the big bucks (almost as much as an SEC blogger, we might add). If you were him, what would you do...raise ticket prices and risk a backlash, or keep 'em low and struggle to keep up?