When the Southeastern Conference handed its invitations to Texas A&M and Missouri, serious schedule adjustments were required. But the Aggies had one fewer change to make.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
A&M, which was placed in the West Division, already had renewed a series with Arkansas. The non-league games were played at Cowboys Stadium.
But the history runs deeper than that. Saturday, they meet as conference rivals for the first time since 1991, their last year together in the Southwest Conference.
Over the final seven years of the SWC, the Aggies or Razorbacks won six championships. By conference titles, they were the most successful programs in conference history behind Texas.
Now, they start anew in the Southeastern Conference, playing Saturday in College Station, next year in Arkansas and moving back to Cowboys Stadium in 2014.
“We look at it as a rivalry,” Razorbacks coach John L. Smith said.
As non-conference opponents over the past three years, Arkansas has had the upper hand. The Razorbacks won the first game, in 2009, in a blowout. Arkansas won the next two games by a touchdown or less, but recent history is meaningless to first-year A&M coach Kevin Sumlin.
“We’re not talking about the last three years,” Sumlin said. “This is an SEC (West) division matchup. That’s why it’s important.”
Smith, an interim coach, believes Missouri and not A&M could become a more heated rival for the Razorbacks because of the proximity of the campuses. The Tigers and Arkansas begin a permanent scheduling partnership next year.
For now, Arkansas has more immediate worries. The Razorbacks started in the top 10 but the season has come off the rails with three straight losses.
Smith covered all the bases when asked what’s wrong with his defense.
“We can’t defend the run and the pass,” he said. “We force people to throw and we’re not there to defend it.”
| Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long when asked if he was committed to keeping coach John L. Smith for the remainder of the season.
“Time will tell…I don’t want to make any predictions.”
| South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier when asked if he thought Missouri would be competitive in the SEC.