It's an oddity that Hog fans, especially those in the 501 once embraced. But once SEC Network cut to a wide shot of War Memorial Stadium that was half full just moments before kickoff it was abundantly clear. The time for Little Rock games has come and gone, and once the current contract is up, a new one shouldn't follow.
Crowds have been steadily shrinking in Little Rock, and the murmurs to end the deal grew louder. After this week's crowd of just over 36,000, the crowd showed that the time is up.
Back in 2014, Jeff's Long announced the reduced contract of just one game per year until 2018. When the contract was announced, it felt like this could be the last deal and that Long and the athletic department was waning Little Rock off the games. After Thursday's game, it feels like the right move was made and if anything they deal should have been cut short.
There were plenty of factors that led to the crowd being as poor as it was. Yes there were storms. Yes it was a weekday game against a dreadful opponent. Those are all reasons why it was a bad crowd, but not excuses for continuing the series. If the game was in Fayetteville would there have been empty seats? Abso-freakin'-lutley. But 60,000 in Razorback Stadium still kicks War Memorial's ass. Especially since you don't have to load up all the players, band, cheerleaders, and equipment for two and a half hours for a home game.
2018 feels like the last hurrah for War Memorial. Most speculation is that the game will be against Vanderbilt. So we can send off the Little Rock games with an SEC game, and it would be a nice touch to celebrate the game as it's final one. Maybe bring back some former players, have some nice video tributes. While it is a horrible venue for SEC football, it can still get a send off that it deserves.
Despite it's current status, I hope that the Little Rock games are looked at fondly. That may sound weird but there were some great moments in that rusty ole' pile of concrete and steel. Some historic wins happened there, especially against LSU. But it's time has come. The drive to Fayetteville is no longer as daunting as it used to be. Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas have boomed into a great community. And Razorback Stadium is now clearly the better place to watch a game. Times change and things have to come to an end. Now is War Memorial's time.
So remember the good times, because it's okay to look back fondly at those games and know it's time to move on.
Because my god it is time to move on.