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Is Fan Interest In Razorback Basketball Diminishing?

I believe there's still significant interest, but it's stagnant. Enthusiasm for the program has appeared in recent years but it's been all too fleeting due to inconsistent basketball teams.

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

This is an excerpt of a column I wrote for Sporting Life Arkansas. You can read it in it's entirety here.

Clearly, there is still interest in basketball. Significant interest. Website traffic numbers indicate there’s more statewide interest in Razorback basketball than the highly successful Razorback baseball program. But is that Arkansas basketball interest as strong as it was in the ’90s? No.

It’s hard to blame the fans for that. The basketball program’s descent to mediocrity (and on occasion, mediocrity has been merely a fantasy) is very well documented. During that time, the football program took back its place in not only the fancy car on the train, but almost took over the whole dang train. Razorback Stadium was renovated. The football team started having winning seasons and going to bowl games and competing for the division title, all rarities during the first years in the SEC. A new football operations center is being built behind the stadium right now.

The popularization of message boards and other online social media over the last decade has allowed fans to focus on football recruiting well into what was once purely basketball season. Weekends in January are now as well known for football recruiting weekends as for basketball games. Even in Razorback basketball’s biggest moment from 2012, the January victory over Michigan in a sold-out and 90′s-loud Bud Walton Arena, a big part of the excitement was the football team’s recognition at halftime and top football recruit Dorial Green-Beckham’s visit to campus.

This hardly means I’m suggesting fans can only enjoy one of the two sports. I firmly believe Arkansas can be successful at both and fans can love both at the same time. However, a dollar can only go to one or the other, and this day and age, it takes lots of dollars to run a top football program. Much more than it used to.

You can read this column in it's entirety here.


Doc Harper is the managing editor of Arkansas Expats and is a regular contributor to College Football News and Sporting Life Arkansas. You can email him here and follow him on Twitter.