Bielema, Odom float idea of interstate all-star game

By: Matt Jones
Published: Friday, July 14, 2017
Missouri head coach Barry Odom, right, laughs with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, left, before the start of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Missouri head coach Barry Odom, right, laughs with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema, left, before the start of an NCAA college football game Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

— SEC and school officials from Arkansas and Missouri have tried hard to create a football rivalry between the programs - first setting up a cross-divisional matchup that is played the final weekend of each season, then creating a trophy to go to the winning team.

This week at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and Missouri coach Barry Odom floated the idea of an Arkansas vs. Missouri high school all-star game to further build a rivalry.

"I had conversations with our high school all-star game being a crossover game to play a high school team from Missouri," Bielema said Monday without referencing who was involved in the conversations.

Border state high school all-star games aren't uncommon. Among them are the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game that has been played the last 30 years; the Kansas vs. Missouri High School All-Star Game that has pitted athletes from the Kansas City area for 25 years; and the Florida vs. Georgia All-Star Game that began in 2012.

The Oil Bowl included athletes from Oklahoma and Texas from 1945 until 2012, when the game's format changed to include only Texas athletes.

"It would be awesome," Odom told the Columbia Missourian. "You'd have to look at different timing than normally is out there for the traditional high school all-star games."

Odom suggested playing an all-star game in January or February. The Arkansas Activities Association hosts an all-star football game each June in Conway, but several of the state's top athletes have opted to skip the game over the past decade because of commitments to their college programs.

"If you've got a couple Arkansas guys committed to Mizzou and maybe vice versa, it's a little different dynamic on how that will all play, but everything we can do to draw attention to that game, we'll do our part," Odom said.

Missouri signed two players - quarterback Taylor Powell and defensive lineman Akial Byers - and accepted a walk-on from Fayetteville earlier this year after Arkansas did not offer. The Tigers' roster also includes defensive lineman Markell Utsey of Little Rock Parkview and running back Damarea Crockett of Little Rock Christian, who set the Missouri freshman rushing record with 1,062 yards last season.

"I would venture to guess in the last two years, we signed kids from a wider area geographically than maybe Mizzou has in the past," Odom said, "...we've got to do a great job in the surrounding areas in the SEC footprint on finding kids that can help us go win a championship."

Arkansas has four scholarship players and two walk-ons from Missouri, including tight end/fullback Hayden Johnson of Columbia, offensive lineman Shane Clenin of Fesuts and offensive lineman Brian Wallace and defensive lineman Armon Watts from the St. Louis area.

"I think the Missouri rivalry, both Barry and I said, even going back to Coach (Gary) Pinkel, anything we can do to flame that fire is a good thing," Bielema said.

"It's hard to create a bunch of history overnight."

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.