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Who will Hogs Face Next in Arlington After Aggies Bail on Southwest Classic?

With a chance to revamp the game, there are numerous win-win scenarios for Razorback fans, Jerry Jones

FRISCO, Texas — The writing's on the wall in regard to the end of the series between Texas A&M and Arkansas at the Death Star in Arlington, Texas. 

Dallas Cowboys owner and Arkansas alum Jerry Jones may want it, but the Aggies seem pretty dead set on pulling the plug in the long-running Southwest Classic.That's understandable as administration in College Station already knows how much the A&M fans enjoy watching a powerful running team chew up clock on the Aggies at Kyle Field. 

So with the inevitable on the horizon, how can the Southwest Classic continue, thus keeping Jones happy, while also making a few adjustments to make things more accommodating for Razorback fans.

The most obvious adjustment would be to move the game to the first game of the season. It's hot in Little Rock and it's hot in Fayetteville, and no one wants to sit in 95-100 degree heat to watch the Western Carolinas of the world.

An indoor destination at the tail end of summer that serves as a giant celebration of America's greatest holiday, the college football season, feels so much better than giving up a fall home game in Fayetteville.

If Jerry wants to go the Alabama route and run through various opponents willing to make the trip while claiming a prime TV slot, then so be it. Sounds like fun.

With Texas Tech, Utah, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State already on the schedule over the next decade for home and home series, perhaps these could become the Texas Stadium openers.

Sure a handful fans with the means want to experience South Bend, but having those teams a short drive away in Dallas every year would mean more opportunity for Razorback fans.

However, if Jones insists on Arkansas playing a series against the same team each year for stability and contract purposes, then Andy Hodges and I have a pair of suggestions each for considerations. 

Smith:

The most obvious replacement to me is Oklahoma State. While I would prefer the Cowboys be an actual SEC opponent, I can meet my personal requirement of it being a non-conference game if they are not.

There's no doubt these two teams should not only be playing each other, but that it would instantly be a hotter rivalry than anything the conference and random media tries to force as a rival game. Seeing how heated things got from a fan perspective during the series of playoff baseball games this past year shows how much potential there is. 

If Hog fans got so slathered up over the "Swag of Stillwater" Roc Riggio prancing around the bases like he was riding a pony, just imagine how much generic Arkansas fan sitting on the living room couch will lose his or her mind if a safety pops an Arkansas quarterback and does a similar dance while celebrating with his teammates. 

There'll be sweet tea and ketchup laced chicken bones all over the new carpet and six people will add this poor fan to the prayer list down at the First Baptist Church after all those four letter words trickle in through the neighbors' windows.

Why two schools so close together with such similar fan bases don't play more often is a puzzle within itself. It should have been a no-brainer.

The record books show the two teams played quite often before most of the Arkansas fan base was born. However, in 1980, it all stopped. 

Oklahoma State drops onto the schedule for the first time in nearly half a century in 2024. Additional showdowns will take place in 2027, 2032 and 2033. 

Hodges:

When this series between Arkansas and Texas A&M started it made all the sense (and cents) in the world.

It gave the Hogs a game in a showcase stadium that will look great on national television in an area where they have an overwhelmingly large fan base within a 50-mile radius.

Oh, a few fans make the drive from various places in Arkansas, but it's really for the throng that live in the Metroplex.

Playing an SEC game there, though, isn't fair to the Hogs. They need that game every other year on campus for recruiting purposes and Texas A&M agrees.

Hopefully no longer playing the Aggies in DFW doesn't mean they quit playing there. It could be a September bonus bowl-type game that really wouldn't distract anybody from the business at hand in the SEC.

Schedule anybody there, be it a Big 12 team or whoever. Oklahoma State certainly is an option provided everything doesn't blow up in the SEC and we have another round of teams wandering into the league.

Play Baylor, Texas Tech, Houston, SMU, TCU or even Texas-San Antonio along with the Cowboys. That can generate some interest.

Dealing with what we know right now, though, playing the Cowboys there every year would be a perfect fit for everybody ... including Jones.

Smith:

I hear you, and those old Southwest Conference schools are not a bad suggestion, especially the Big 12 teams. However, hear me out. 

You know how we get to the end of the season and it's such a letdown when you remember that not only is Missouri in the SEC, but that you close out your season with a game no one cares about? 

That awful feeling of trying to not regurgitate day-old turkey every time a commentator says the words "Battle Line Rivalry" even though there's simply no such thing?

I know Missouri technically breaks my rule of not having a conference team as an opponent for this game, but half the Arkansas fan base doesn't realize the Tigers are an SEC team, so it counts.

There's never going to be a season where both of these programs are going to be good at the same time. I'm pretty sure that's in both the Bible and the U.S. Constitution. 

As a result, there's never going to be any tension between these teams. 

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If you're going to try to drum up fake interest by throwing a trophy about a fake rivalry into the mix, then why not fully jump the shark. Let's start the season with these two teams.

Plus, throw both Missouri and Arkansas a bone by rotating the games between Dallas Cowboys Stadium and Arrrowhead Stadium. 

Missouri vs. Arkansas the last week of the season is an afterthought. Missouri vs. Arkansas in Week 0 or Week 1 is prime viewing. 

When in Arkansas, these two lock up more often than not in War Memorial Stadium. 

That's how little is thought of this game. Administrators are blatantly telling you it's equivalent to Western Carolina.

If you're going to lose a weekend where you can host recruits because it's in Little Rock anyway, at least have it be on a big stage in front of a big television audience and get a boost out of it.

Hodges:

Playing Missouri at any time is an afterthought.

Despite David Bazzel putting together a trophy so big you almost need a trailer to get it out, this whole "Battle Line Rivalry" thing doesn't get anybody particularly irritated.

Oklahoma is going to be the Hogs' biggest rival in a few years. That has the potential to be a true hatefest. Texas is always going to be there because, well, everybody hates the Longhorns.

I do not like playing an SEC game away from campus at any time. You give up too much in recruiting and other things.

Besides, this is a way to get maximum exposure for minimum hassle. It's a bowl game the Hogs would be guaranteed to get every single year.

Divider

Much like the contract Texas and Oklahoma have with the Big 12, the contract between Arkansas, Texas A&M and Jerry Jones runs through 2024. 

At some point over the next year fans will hear an update on the Southwest Classic. Most likely it will be shortly after SEC officials announce a new format for incorporating the Sooners and Longhorns that we hear about the future of playing in Arlington.

Until then, grab a big plate of Babe's Chicken this Saturday and offer a prayer of thanks to the good Lord that you didn't have to make the exhausting drive down to Kyle Field this year. 

Just know it's coming one day soon.

Arkansas divider

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