Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Arkansas-TCU to play in 2016, 2017
Arkansas football head coach Bret Bielema watches his players at practice Saturday, April 13, 2013, at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas and TCU will meet in a home-and-home football series beginning in 2016, Horned Frogs athletics director Chris Del Conte said in a university release Tuesday announcing future nonconference opponents.
The two teams will play in Fort Worth in 2016 and Fayetteville in 2017. The future games, which most recently were tentatively scheduled to begin next year, were contracted about a decade ago, but have been pushed back because of other series.
Arkansas and TCU were originally scheduled to play in 2008 and 2009, but it was initially pushed back because of a series against Texas later scheduled for the same two years. The Razorbacks and Longhorns played in Austin in 2008, but Texas never returned the trip because Arkansas scheduled a long-term series against Texas A&M beginning in 2009.
- Texas Tech (Proposed 2014-15) 4% 85 votes
- TCU (2016-17) 7% 142 votes
- Michigan (2018-19) 43% 882 votes
- Texas (2021) 45% 909 votes
2018 total votes.
The Razorbacks are looking for marquee nonconference games to fill a scheduling void created when Texas A&M joined the SEC last year. The two teams were previously scheduled to play a nonconference game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas through 2017. They will resume their series in the Dallas suburb next season after a two-year hiatus, but as conference foes.
Arkansas and TCU haven't played since both teams were Southwest Conference members in 1991. A series against the Horned Frogs would add to the list of former SWC teams Arkansas has played out of conference in recent years and the Razorbacks are in talks to play Texas Tech in a two-year series beginning next year.
A spokesperson said Arkansas won't publicly comment on future nonconference series until the SEC resolves a scheduling conflict created when it expanded to 14 teams last summer. The league is expected to discuss a nine-game conference schedule with its member schools later this month, which would leave only three nonconference dates in future seasons.
"There are a lot of interesting possibilities out there - some things that I know will excite our fan base in more than one way," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said when asked about scheduling last month in an interview on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly.
"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."
The series against TCU would give Arkansas two games in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex - a large university alumni base and recruiting hotbed - in 2016. Both games would be considered away contests for the Razorbacks and wouldn't affect the number of home games that season.
Arkansas is under contract to play two games - including one SEC matchup - at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium through the same year. UA athletics director Jeff Long has said he wants to play no fewer than five games each year at the Razorbacks' on-campus stadium in Fayetteville.
Other notable scheduled nonconference games for Arkansas include a home-and-home series against Michigan in 2018 and 2019, and a home game against Texas in 2021 - a return trip for the game postponed four years ago.