Like It Is

OPINION | WALLY HALL: It's time to embrace the UA, UAPB game

It is more than just a football game Saturday.

When the Arkansas Razorbacks host Arkansas-Pine Bluff, history will be made. Monumental history.

When the players from both teams run onto the field 61 -- 40 Razorbacks and 21 Golden Lions -- will feel the historical significance and their role.

The 42,000 or so in the stands will be a major part of a giant step forward for athletics in Arkansas. Over the years as the saga is told and retold, the numbers will grow by those claiming they were there.

Or you can personally experience it: Tickets are on sale at War Memorial Stadium and the UA ticket office.

For 75 years, it was a University of Arkansas policy not to pay instate teams, and they haven't since 1944.

It was not Frank Broyles rule, but the one he honored in the memory of John Barnhill.

The UA has never played UAPB in football, and this change came about because of foresight and leadership on the part of UA Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek and some members of the UA Board of Trustees who were determined to get into the 21st century.

The discussions began after a Little Rock Touchdown Club meeting when attorney Ron Davis asked then-athletic director Jeff Long to consider not playing other teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

Davis politely pointed out to Long that UAPB was in the SWAC, and the money paid to those teams gave them an advantage against UAPB, where Davis played football.

Long got snippy, Some might call it uppity arrogance. He was fired four months later.

Someone on the UA Board of Trustees pointed out that the UA and UAPB are brothers under the UA system.

Now, on Saturday it is like the mountain coming to Mohammed.

Obviously more than 40,000 get it. They have bought tickets and a large number of those who don't care that UAPB is 1-5 and Arkansas is 4-3.

Tailgates and parties are planned before and after the 11 a.m. kickoff.

Most likely, the Razorbacks will win. The Golden Lions won't come into the game with any intention other than giving it their all.

The halftime show will be worth the price of admission.

After the UA band performs, the Marching Musical Machine of the Mid-South, UAPB's band, will rock the stadium.

That's another strong indicator of foresight by Yurachek. The last time Texas A&M came to Fayetteville, Long would not allow the famed Aggie band to perform, so they stayed home.

The band is far from the only thing UAPB is proud of. Founded in 1873, two years after the UA, UAPB is the second oldest public education system in the state.

The school has numerous successful graduates, and athletically it has sent several dozen football players to the NFL.

There was a time long ago when this game wouldn't have been allowed because of race. Then it was a policy.

Finally, it is a reality.

It is more than a game, or a performance of bands, or even a major social event.

It is two proud and deserving programs paying homage to their sport, their brotherhood and now a friendship.

With the Arkansas State Fair in full swing, it is the perfect time to spend a weekend in The Rock.

What fans will get is more than a football game.

It will experience true history, and not just athletic, being made.

A 75-year-old policy has been eliminated, and for the first time, every administrator, coach and athlete have embraced the change.

In the years to come, the day will be recalled many times because days this significant happen once in a lifetime and there's an open invitation to embrace and experience the moment.

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