Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Big 12 expressed interest in Arkansas
Arkansas punt returner Joe Adams coasts into the end zone on a 61-yard first-quarter punt return that gave the Razorbacks a 14-0 lead on the way to a 51-7 victory over Missouri State on Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. Adams also scored on a 69-yard punt return in the third quarter, making him one of three Razorbacks to score two punt-return touchdowns in a single game.
SPRINGDALE The Big 12 reached out to Arkansas in recent weeks to gauge the school’s interest in joining the conference, UA athletics director Jeff Long confirmed Wednesday.
Asked if those “conversations went very far”, Long said no.
Arkansas has been rumored to be a candidate to join the failing conference, which is expected to lose Texas A&M either today or tomorrow to the Southeastern Conference.
“I think our program is such that there are a number of conferences who would love to have us as a member,” Long said following a speech at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club. “But we are strongly committed to the SEC and I’d be surprised if we weren’t reached out to by other conferences about joining them.
“That happened. It didn’t surprise me, but we’re committed to the SEC. It’s the strongest conference in the country and is only going to get stronger.”
SEC presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to invite Texas A&M as the league’s 13th member on Tuesday but the move is being blocked by at least one Big 12 school threatening legal action, according to reports.
Long said the SEC is prepared to “move ahead with 12 or 13 teams”. Reports indicate the SEC is looking to expand to 14 teams prior to the next football season.
“We are not out searching for other institutions,” Long said of SEC expansion. “They are knocking on our door.”
The Big 12, which formed in 1996, lost Nebraska to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-12 over the summer, and other schools – Oklahoma and Oklahoma State – have publicly indicated they are willing to listen to other conferences.
Arkansas joined the SEC along with South Carolina in 1991. The league hasn’t expanded since that time.