The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

There is a lot of fan reaction to the news that Arkansas State will most likely play UAPB in Little Rock next season. Go "Inside" for a former player's point of view on the subject and his thoughts of next season's schedule.

The Good:

-Playing a non-conference slate of UAPB, Memphis, Auburn, and Idaho gives us our best chance since 1975 at starting 4-0. 3-1 one should be the bench mark for sure. Anything less than 3-1 is a problem.

-Five games in Jonesboro, one in Little Rock, and one in Memphis give us seven easy games to make. Throw in short trips to Bowling Green and Murfreesboro and nine of our twelve games can be made in a day's drive.

-We are playing another in state team. I like the idea of playing UCA and UAPB on a rotating basis. The games have enough appeal to bring fans out, but we have enough talent and depth that the games shouldn't be close. I wouldn't support playing either annually unless they were FBS.

The Bad:

-The deal we have with Idaho appears to be a wasted opportunity. There's no reason for us to play a bottom basement FBS team on a straight home and home deal, particularly one that was on the verge of having to drop down to FCS. We had a chance to dictate the terms of the contract and sign a four game deal with them. Two in Jonesboro, one in Moscow, and one in Little Rock that counts as a home game for Idaho. If they didn't like the deal there are plenty of other teams in the region to sign a home and home with.

-Taking a Saturday September home game away from the fans and supporters in Jonesboro hurts. Keep six in Jonesboro, play a seventh in Little Rock and that's fine we'll take that deal. More than likely one of our other home games will get moved to a midweek contest for television leaving us with the potential to only play one September game in Jonesboro, and only have four Saturday Jonesboro games.

The Ugly:

-Message board reaction to UAPB in Little Rock and a home and home with Idaho has been beyond extreme. Although it's rare, it's not unprecedented for FBS schools to play FCS teams away from their on campus stadium. Some of our fan base is acting like UAPB will have more fans there than we will, or at least it will be close. Honestly, if that's the case then perhaps we haven't come as far as we think we have and we should be playing this game in Little Rock.

-Announcing the Idaho and UAPB deals on the same day is a slap in the face to a growing fan base. Two bad decisions announced at the same time, right when we are getting into conference play, and trying to raise money for facilities upgrades.

The Conclusion:

We have our most legitimate chance since 1975 to go undefeated next season. I'll concede it's a long shot and anything from 8 to 10 wins is more likely, but assuming we finish this season strong three straight winning seasons looks like almost a sure thing.

Playing UAPB in Little Rock isn't as bad to me as everyone is making it sound. If I had to lose a Jonesboro game let it be this one. I'm comfortable with playing FCS competition in Little Rock because we are establishing we are a STATE team, not just a Jonesboro team.

I'm even fine with UAPB bringing 10-11,000 fans. We should bring 22-25,000 plus whatever local crowd shows up. The stadium could have close to 40,000 people in it to watch us dismantle a SWAC team. We should make good money off the game and give our student athletes a big time crowd against a team we should knock out quickly. While it's not a decision I would have made it's been made and I'll be there to support my team.

Our non-conference schedule in future seasons needs to look like this one. We should have an FCS team, two home and home series against similar FBS competition, and a winnable game against a team from the big six conferences.

Everyone needs to suck it up, march down to Little Rock next season and take over the city just like we did in Mobile and show the state of Arkansas who we are. That's the only way to continue to grow our school and our program.

Our athletic department needs to have a better vision about things going forward, and they need to clearly express that vision with the program supporters. The athletic department has spent the last twenty years giving us a vision that's about as clear as the picture on the video board above and below the black line.