By HARRY KING
LITTLE ROCK — Critiquing the release about Arkansas to play Rutgers, a newsman could make a good argument that somebody missed the lead.
In the third paragraph there is this: "In addition to the Rutgers game, Arkansas will host Jacksonville State (Sept. 1), Alabama (Sept. 15), Kentucky (Oct. 13), Tulsa (Nov. 3) and LSU (Nov. 24) at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville."
Once the release became public, LSU playing in Fayetteville generated more reaction than the Razorbacks completing their 2012 schedule by signing a home-and-home with Rutgers.
Many fans outside of northwest Arkansas have been almost resigned to the fact that the LSU game, which will be on Nov. 23 for television, would be moved out of Little Rock for the first time in years. But, until there was official word, there was hope.
Instead of the Tigers, Ole Miss will be the Razorbacks’ opponent in Little Rock on Oct. 27.
Like it or not, the explanation offered by athletic director Jeff Long makes sense. He cited the larger stadium capacity in Fayetteville and the fact that the Razorbacks would not have to travel three straight weekends "in the most crucial part of the season," after playing at South Carolina on Nov. 10 and at Mississippi State on Nov. 17.
"Playing on campus will also allow our football program the recruiting advantage of hosting prospects for a game that has traditionally carried conference and national implications," Long said.
It is difficult to argue with any of those points; it is what the move portends that concerns Razorback fans who only attend games in Little Rock. They fear that moving the LSU game to Fayetteville will be permanent and could be the first step in transferring all SEC games to the campus.
Currently, the UA is obligated to play two games per year in Little Rock, including one against an SEC opponent. Earlier this month, War Memorial Stadium manager Charlie Staggs told The AP that he is concerned the Razorbacks might reduce Little Rock appearances after the contract runs out following the 2016 season.
Prominent in his thinking is the fact that last October, Long announced plans to expand 72,000-seat Razorback Stadium by enclosing the north end zone. Such a move would include at least 5,000 new seats, including suites and club areas.
Included in the UA release on Friday was a statement from War Memorial Stadium Commission chairman Kevin Crass, who said all the right things about the Ole Miss game.
As for Rutgers filling out the Razorback schedule, the title of an Alabama song comes to mind: "Close Enough To Perfect For Me."
The Scarlet Knights of Brunswick, N.J., are from an automatic-qualifying BCS conference, they have a good record during the past few years, and the Sept. 22 game will receive much more attention in the Northeast U.S. than Arkansas’ other non-conference games against Jacksonville State, Louisiana-Monroe, and Tulsa combined.
Rutgers, which played in one bowl game before 2005, has won five straight bowl games, the longest bowl winning streak in the nation. Rutgers won seven games in 2005 and then eight or more in all but one of the next six years.
From an Arkansas perspective, the Razorbacks should be able to handle Rutgers in stride after a huge game against Alabama the previous week. Greg Schiano, who turned around the Rutgers program, resigned last month after 11 years to become head coach of Tampa Bay and several of his assistants are expected to join him.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His email address is email@example.com.