“You’re too old.”
“You’re not as sleek and as modern as the others.”
“Let’s end this relationship and go our separate ways.”
Hurtful words for sure, even when applied to old and gray War Memorial Stadium, which opened in Little Rock in 1948. No one connected with the Arkansas Razorbacks has publicly stated the football Hogs are leaving War Memorial Stadium after 2018, but I suspect they were leaning toward leaving. That was before Hunter Yurachek was hired to replace Jeff Long as athletic director at Arkansas.
Could there be a change of heart with the new guy in charge of the athletic department? The subject will be discussed but not before Yurachek gets to enjoy the holidays with his family in their new surroundings in Northwest Arkansas.
“I have not yet visited with the new AD, but hope to soon,” said Kane Webb, director of the Parks and Tourism Department that oversees War Memorial Stadium. “I imagine he’s getting bombarded from all sides. But I can tell you I remain very optimistic about the future of Razorback games at War Memorial Stadium.”
Everyone knows the issue and the economics of the longstanding debate favor moving all games to Fayetteville. But should money be the primary factor in the decision on whether to continue games in Little Rock after the current contract ends in 2018?
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said he supports the tradition of playing games in Little Rock. So does Tommy Tuberville, a former SEC coach and a native of Camden.
“I told Coach (Frank) Broyles one time that college football is not all about money, it’s about people,” Tuber-ville said. “You need to play games in Little Rock. There’s some cases that are different. This is one of those. This Razorback football team was built with many, many thousands of people that weren’t in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in that corner of the state.”
New Arkansas football coach Chad Morris is doing his part to repair a fractured fan base by recruiting players and visiting high school coaches throughout the state. But more needs to be done instead of throwing crumbs to the Little Rock crowd by scheduling awful opponents like Alcorn State and Florida A&M.
I am hopeful Yurachek brings a new way of thinking and help convince the other decision-makers to keep games in Little Rock.
Why not schedule Ole Miss and Mississippi State at War Memorial Stadium on a rotating basis basic? Better yet, throw Arkansas State into the mix, although the thorny issue of playing instate schools may be better left alone until other important issues are resolved.
So, enjoy the holidays, Mr. Yurachek. You’ll be plenty busy beginning in 2018.
The circle of life can be simultaneously wonderful and heart-breaking when the births and deaths occur so closely together.
Our family is feeling the range of emotion with the death of my uncle, Benny Wayne Overman, whose memorial service was delayed until Friday while awaiting the birth of his second grandchild, Olympia.
Benny Wayne coached for several years the All-American Red Heads, a female version of the Harlem Globetrotters and the women were inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in 2012. He married Pat, the star player, who shot free throws from her knees as part of her comedy routine and made the vast majority of them.
Benny and my uncle, Jerry Overman, played baseball for the Caraway Redbirds when many towns formed their own teams. The outfield wall at the Caraway ballpark was plastered with ads, including one for the Tastee-Freeze, which promised a free hamburger and milkshake to any player who hit a home run over the ad.
Benny Wayne connected one day and handed the coupon to me. To this day, that hamburger and milkshake is the best I’ve ever had because it came from Benny Wayne.
A picture was taken at my grandmother’s house in the 1960s that shows Ben and Jerry in their baseball uniforms flanked by my mom and their other brother and sisters. All 10 were full of life and the love they had for one another was evident.
Today, there are three left and the quality of that worn out Polaroid fades with each passing year.
Goodbye, Ben. You’ll always be my hero.
Rick Fires can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@NWARick.