Matt Jones is the editor of the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
SEC assigns Ole Miss, Mizzou to Diamond Hogs after expansion
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn (right) shakes hands with Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco prior to a College World Series game Monday, June 20, 2022, in Omaha, Neb.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ baseball team will play annual series against Ole Miss and Missouri beginning in 2025 after the SEC expands to 16 teams.
The league office announced permanent opponents for all teams Thursday. After expansion, SEC teams will play 10 three-game conference series each year, including alternating series at home and away against permanent opponents. The other 13 SEC teams will be played on a rotating basis.
Arkansas and Ole Miss have developed a strong baseball rivalry under long-time coaches Dave Van Horn and Mike Bianco. Each team has eliminated the other from the NCAA postseason within the past four years — the Razorbacks over the Rebels at the Fayetteville Super Regional in 2019, and Ole Miss over Arkansas in the semifinals of the College World Series in 2022.
The Razorbacks have a 59-53 all-time lead in the series. Bianco, who is entering his 24th season at Ole Miss, and Van Horn, entering his 22nd at Arkansas, have coached 77 games against each other.
Arkansas’ baseball history against Missouri is far less dramatic. The Razorbacks lead the series 23-15, including 11-4 since the Tigers joined the SEC for the 2013 season.
Mizzou has struggled to find its footing in the SEC. Steve Bieser was fired as the team's head coach earlier this year after failing to make the postseason each year since 2017. He was replaced by Kerrick Jackson, a former assistant under long-time Missouri coach Tim Jamieson.
Unlike Ole Miss, a member of the SEC West, Arkansas does not play Mizzou each season in the division format that will be eliminated after expansion.
The Razorbacks are scheduled to host Ole Miss and Missouri in the upcoming season, which leaves open the possibility of a repeat trip to Fayetteville for one of those teams when the schedule resets in 2025. A similar schedule reset sent Texas A&M to Fayetteville back-to-back years after the Aggies joined the SEC.
In addition to Arkansas, Ole Miss will play in-state rival Mississippi State each season, and Missouri will play annually against Oklahoma, a former frequent opponent from their days together in the Big 8 and Big 12 conferences.
With the elimination of divisions, the Razorbacks were guaranteed to lose annual series against teams they have developed healthy rivalries against. Among the series Arkansas won’t play anymore each year are against LSU, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.
Any of those teams would have made sense for the Razorbacks on an annual basis, and so would have series against newcomers Texas and Oklahoma.
Arkansas and Texas were fierce rivals in the Southwest Conference who have played frequently in recent years, including at the 2018 College World Series. At approximately 242 miles away, the Oklahoma campus in Norman will be the closest to Fayetteville after expansion, followed by Missouri (314 miles) and Ole Miss (401 miles).
SEC Permanent Baseball Opponents (Beginning 2025)
Alabama: Auburn, Tennessee
Arkansas: Ole Miss, Missouri
Auburn: Alabama, Georgia
Florida: Georgia, South Carolina
Georgia: Florida, Auburn
Kentucky: South Carolina, Vanderbilt
LSU: Mississippi State, Texas A&M
Ole Miss: Mississippi State, Arkansas
Mississippi State: Ole Miss, LSU
Missouri: Oklahoma, Arkansas
Oklahoma: Missouri, Texas
South Carolina: Kentucky, Florida
Tennessee: Vanderbilt, Alabama
Texas: Texas A&M, Oklahoma
Texas A&M: Texas, LSU
Vanderbilt: Tennessee, Kentucky
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