TV Deal To Benefit Entire UA Campus

HOOVER, Ala. — Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said Wednesday that the Southeastern Conference's new 15-year TV deal with ESPN will benefit the entire university, not just the athletic department.

ESPN paid a reported $2.25 billion to televise SEC events, including football and men's and women's basketball. The league also has a lucrative contract with CBS Sports.

Long, who attended the first day of SEC Media Days, said Arkansas' portion of the revenue will help the university at a time when the economy is struggling. He also believes the Razorbacks being on national TV will bring more attention to the school.

"The exposure is tremendous and it's going to be something that impacts more than just our football program, more than our athletic department, more than the university," Long said. "It's really going to impact the recruitment of students."

ESPN on Wednesday released its schedule for the first three weeks of the college football season. Arkansas' Sept. 5 season opener against Missouri State will be shown on and ESPN GamePlan. It also will be offered on pay-per-view.

Arkansas' home game against Georgia on Sept. 19 will be televised either by ESPN or ESPN2.

"The SEC will be the most widely distributed conference in the country," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said.

Take the Field

Long said Arkansas' players were expected to work out on the new synthetic surface inside Reynolds Razorback Stadium for the first time Wednesday.

Long initially hoped that the turf would be in place by August, but he said the project finished ahead of schedule.

"The turf gets turned over to us today, and I believe they're going to have a conditioning workout (on the new field) this evening," Long said. "So we'll officially have the field today."

Long said earlier this month that he expected the total cost of the new turf to be between $1 million and $1.1 million, which would be slightly under his original $1.2 million estimate.

Petrino Wishes Vick Well

Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino had the chance to talk about his former quarterback, Michael Vick, and his new one, son Nick Petrino.

A newspaper columnist asked Petrino if he thought his career might have been different had Vick not gone to prison for his involvement in a dogfighting ring.

"You know, you don't think about those things. There's all the ifs, ands and buts of the world," said Petrino, who left the Atlanta Falcons toward the end of his first season in 2008 to coach Arkansas. "That's not one you think about.

"I understand Michael just got out. I wish him well. I think he gets the second chance he needs and does a great job."

Meanwhile, Petrino's son, Nick, has transferred to Arkansas after spending last fall at Montana State-Northern.

"Nick wanted to come back and go to school at Arkansas, be part of our football team," Bobby Petrino said. "He's got aspirations to be a football coach. I thought his mom would get that out of him, but she didn't."

How Many Freshmen?

Don't expect to see so many freshmen on the field for the Razorbacks this fall. Petrino was asked how many he was going to play and said his plan is nowhere close to the 16 that played in 2008.

"I hope to heck it's not 16," Petrino said. "I know it won't be 16. Maybe six or seven or eight."

Tough Schedule

Petrino believes Arkansas will be a better football team than it was last season, but he also knows the Razorbacks have a tougher schedule this season. So getting wins won't be easy.

"What we need to understand is we got to get the game in the fourth quarter in a position to win, then, hopefully our offseason conditioning, our offseason strength work and our depth will allow us to win more games than we did a year ago," Petrino said.

Arkansas plays Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and LSU on the road. So Petrino said the goal is to go undefeated at home and win the nonconference game against Texas A&M in Dallas. It's a game Petrino joked was a home game because Jerry Jones — an Arkansas graduate — owns the stadium.

"We need to win all our home games," Petrino said. "That gives you a chance to do something special."

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