FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema called his program’s tradition of playing games each year in Little Rock “very, very important.”
“Well, it’s obviously part of Arkansas history,” Bielema said during his appearance Wednesday on the SEC coaches teleconference. “I think me as a head coach, as an assistant coach when you come here, as a player when we recruit you, one of the great things is you talk about the history of those who came before you.
“Obviously the history of Little Rock and what it means is very, very important, so then it’s important to us. We just play the schedule that’s laid in front of us.”
Despite that history, rumors and speculation have persisted lately that Arkansas might end the annual tradition in Little Rock when the school’s contract with War Memorial Stadium runs out in 2018. The stadium is old, the game struggles to draw a big crowd and it means one less game on campus each year.
Arkansas has slowly weaned itself off Little Rock in recent years, playing only one game there instead of multiple contests. And while the Hogs used to play SEC games there, the Little Rock games are now lower-profile non-conference games, like this weekend’s contest against Alcorn State.
“The conversations about whether we play or not play in the future is way above my pay grade and also above our players,” Bielema said Wednesday. “We just embrace the opportunity and we’ll get a chance to drive over Friday, have a chance to play in front of a great group of fans on Saturday.”