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Arkansas vs Georgia: War Memorial's Last Big Game?

Saturday may be the last chance for Little Rock fans to go crazy against a team that matters.

Wesley Hitt

The Razorbacks are contracted to play one game in War Memorial Stadium through 2018, but there's a pretty good chance that this weekend's game against Georgia will be the last time Arkansas plays a nationally-relevant opponent in Little Rock.

As per terms of the contract, there is still one more SEC game that must be played at War Memorial between 2015 and 2018. It's highly expected that the SEC game will be in either 2016 or 2018 because those are the years Arkansas will be the "road" team vs Texas A&M, leaving four SEC games in-state.

While it's always possible UA could choose to end the War Memorial Era with a big game vs LSU for sentimental reasons (the 2002, 2008, and 2010 LSU games are all legendary Razorback moments), if the SEC schedule rotation holds firm, in 2018 Arkansas also hosts none other than the Vanderbilt Commodores.

It's not implausible that the next three War Memorial opponents could be Toledo-like games, with a game against Vanderbilt in 2018. Then that could be it for Little Rock.

That's obviously not a sure bet. Arkansas could schedule Ole Miss in Little Rock either year as they did in 2012 (when Kentucky came to Fayetteville from the East) or the aforementioned Bayou Bengals. It's also important to note there's no guarantee what the quality of any of those programs will be in 2018. But if history's any indication, there's a good chance Vanderbilt will be among the worst teams in the conference as they almost always have been. Ole Miss's status may depend on whether Hugh Freeze sticks around in Oxford. And Arkansas could always surprise everybody with one of the bigger schools in Little Rock like they did with Georgia this year.

Regardless who Arkansas plays at War Memorial in 2016 or '18, it remains a distinct possibility this Georgia game will be the last time a top-10 opponent will visit War Memorial Stadium. I think this is a significant thing for fans to be aware of because if anyone wants one last opportunity to savor the full War Memorial experience, when the crowd is going absolutely nuts, this could be the last opportunity. Let's not pretend the crowd's going to be really hot for Toledo next year. There may have been a time when the Little Rock crowd would get up for opponents like that, but it doesn't happen to that level anymore.

It's not a surprise Arkansas isn't promoting the game this way because 2018 is far enough away that much could still change. The decision-makers on The Hill could be different by between then. The contract for War Memorial could be extended (although it seems extremely likely no more SEC games will take place in Little Rock beyond the 2018 season).

That being said, it's absolutely ridiculous Arkansas is making it more difficult for fans to attend by essentially charging $100 per ticket ($65 face value + $35 "donation" to the Razorback Foundation). That's nearly double the cost of a ticket if the game were in Fayetteville ($55). That's absurd and nothing will convince me otherwise.

Yes, I'm aware Arkansas loses revenue by playing in Little Rock and this is an attempt at recouping that money. I don't care. That's not the way to treat your fans. With the 8-figure revenue bomb like the SEC Network, the announcement of a giant 20' x 30' "monument" being built in front of the multimillion-dollar football complex in Fayetteville, with all the other facilities being built, it's hard to sell the "we need every dime" line.

Also, if anyone complains about "Little Rock" not selling out War Memorial and says it's evidence all games should be in Fayetteville, you also have to say the same thing about attendance at the Southwest Classic.

Sometimes sports can just be fun. And having fun can cost some money, and that's okay. Yes, many people still enjoy the Little Rock games. No, the stadium's not as nice. No, there aren't as many amenities. Yes, the bathrooms are nasty. Yes, it's small by SEC standards. Yes, it's old. Yeah, the clock will probably screw up and people will probably do the wave (and people will incorrectly mock them as WMS-only problems). I don't care. Count me with Coach Taylor's philosophy on football stadiums:

The games in Little Rock mean a lot to a lot of people. That doesn't mean we're fighting to keep them here, at least I'm not. We've been down that road. But I'll enjoy the ones that are left and I'll miss them when they're gone.

And if anyone out there still insists on complaining about any little thing they don't like about Little Rock to me over the next few days, just shut up. There aren't any points to either side of the Great Stadium Debate most Hog fans and myself haven't heard before. As far as I'm concerned, the debate is over and the games are leaving Little Rock and we're just running out the contract like when Prince released a couple of quick crap albums in the '90s to get out of his Warner Bros. deal.

So just stop. Relax. Do your best to enjoy it. The team needs the fans to go crazy. Arkansas is riding a 15-game SEC losing streak going up against a top 10 opponent in the place where much of the program's on-field misery began two years ago. It's time to exercise some demons.

It's Little Rock. It's War Memorial. It's the golf course. Burn a couch. Shake a bus. Be a part of the game.

Because there might not be another chance like it.