Today's Paper News Sports Features Business Opinion LEARNS Guide Newsletters Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

Jeff Long: Struggling to fill football schedule after Michigan dropped series

by Bob Holt | September 22, 2016 at 5:45 a.m.
Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long, left, watches the video board during a game against LSU on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Filling the void on Arkansas' football schedules in 2018 and 2019 created by Michigan's decision to drop its home-and-home series with the Razorbacks is proving to be difficult, UA Athletic Director Jeff Long said Wednesday.

Michigan announced July 7 that it was canceling its games against Arkansas so the Wolverines could resume a series with Notre Dame.

"The process, how's it going?" Long said of replacing Michigan. "I'd say not very well."

Arkansas is hopeful of replacing Michigan with a team from another Power 5 Conference, but isn't close to scheduling such a game, Long said when he spoke at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club.

"It does leave us in a bind, and it's a kind word to say we're 'struggling' to fill that opening," Long said. "Schedules are done so far in advance. There aren't any Power 5 teams -- or very few -- that want to play us that are available."

Michigan paid Arkansas a $2 million buyout as was called for in the contract if one team canceled the series, and Long said the UA is ready to use that money to assist another team in buying out a contract or postponing a game that would accommodate the Razorbacks' schedule.

"That's just very difficult to do, because they don't want to do to [a] team what Michigan did to us," Long said.

Long estimated Arkansas officials have talked to 30 or 40 schools about replacing Michigan.

"My staff and I are working on it," he said. "There's not a day that goes by that we aren't having a call trying to convince somebody to do something different.

"It's very late. We knew that when [Michigan] pulled out."

Long said scheduling a team for 2018 and 2019 is not imminent.

"There are probably six or eight balls in the air," he said. "But each one of those is dependent on one, two, three or four other moves that would have to take place for that to work out for us."

Arkansas finishes its home-and-home series with TCU next season when the Horned Frogs play at Fayetteville and Texas is scheduled to play the Razorbacks at Fayetteville in 2021.

So with openings for Power 5 conference teams in 2018, 2019 and 2020, Arkansas could schedule a non-Power 5 team for one of those seasons and play a home-and-home series against Power 5 the other two seasons.

"We need games" Long said. "It's all a possibility."

Long laughed when asked the timetable for scheduling a game to fill the Michigan dates.

"By whatever weeks of the season in 2018 that we have available," he said. "We just need to have it in time for the team to get here to play us."

Sports on 09/22/2016

Print Headline: Long: Struggling to fill UM series


Sponsor Content