Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A two-time graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Arkansas-Texas Tech in talks for football series
University of Arkansas coach Bret Bielema watches the Razorbacks warm up as they prepare for the start of Saturday's Red White Scrimmage at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas and Texas Tech have had talks about a future home-and-home football series, Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema said Tuesday in an interview on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly.
RedRaiderSports.com first mentioned the possibility of a game on Monday. According to the Rivals-affiliated website, the initial meeting would likely be played at Texas Tech in 2014 with a return game in 2015.
"I've been engaged with that talk," Bielema said. "There has been a lot of hesitation since I've been here because we haven't gotten the 2014 SEC schedule. Until that kind of gets finalized and '15 gets finalized, we can't move forward, but there are a lot of interesting possibilities out there - some things that I know will excite our fan base in more than one way."
- Yes 74% 816 votes
- No 25% 277 votes
1093 total votes.
Future UA Football Nonconference Games
2013: vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, Samford (Little Rock), Southern Miss; at Rutgers
2014: vs. Northern Illinois
2018: at Michigan
2019: vs. Michigan
2021: vs. Texas
The Razorbacks and Red Raiders haven't met since 1991 when Arkansas left the Southwest Conference. The programs met 35 times as SWC foes, with the Razorbacks winning 28 times.
Both teams enter the 2013 season with first-year head coaches. Texas Tech hired then-Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, a former Red Raiders quarterback, one week after the Razorbacks hired Bielema in December.
With strength of schedule emphasized as part of the pending college football playoff, Bielema said a series against the Big 12 school seems logical.
"When you're projecting a couple of years out, you have to factor in what you believe (the opponent) can be," Bielema said. "The best thing is to try to take care of what services Arkansas best. You take into account fan base, history and some things that would give flavor to your schedule you can't find in the SEC."
Arkansas has had to scramble to assemble marquee nonconference games after its agreement to play Texas A&M at Cowboys Stadium through 2017 was nulled when the Aggies moved to the SEC. The Razorbacks will play at Rutgers in the last of a two-year agreement next season and are scheduled to play Michigan in a home-and-home series beginning in 2018.
Arkansas' only other confirmed future game against a BCS opponent is a home date against Texas scheduled for 2021. That matchup is a makeup for a postponed contest originally scheduled for 2009.
Scholarship players added
Bielema said Tuesday that deep snapper Alan D'Appollonio and tight end Mitchell Loewen have been added to the Razorbacks' 85-man scholarship limit after walking-on at Arkansas. Both players were listed as starters on the team's post-spring depth chart.
Asked if he would sign any other players to scholarships prior to the season, Bielema said it will depend on the individual situation.
"When I was at Wisconsin, (quarterback) Russell Wilson fell into my lap in July," Bielema said. "I'd probably take anybody of that caliber whenever I can get them…but I don't want to add somebody of sub-standards just to fill a spot."