On April 3, the sun came up across the Natural State just like it does each and every day.
The reason some thought it might not was that the night before, the University of Arkansas played an instate team in a baseball game.
Now, the sun may have shone just a little more brightly in the capital city, as the Little Rock Trojans beat the Hogs 17-7 in Fayetteville.
But it was certainly not the zombie apocalypse some die-hard Hog fans predicted would happen if, Heaven forbid, the state’s flagship institution lost to an instate program.
On the contrary, that loss just might have been the turning point in the Diamond Hogs’ season that could see them get back to Omaha.
Last year, University of Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek announced the Razorbacks would abandon their long-standing policy of not scheduling other state schools.
That’s long overdue, and I applaud the new AD for making it happen.
However, the Hogs are not jumping into the deep end of the statewide pool with both feet.
It’s more like they are wading into the shallow area to test the water temperature.
They won’t be playing the game many fans want to see, against Arkansas State on the football field.
That is because this new policy currently limits instate games to other schools in the U of A system.
That means UALR and UAPB. But it’s certainly a start.
Only playing sister schools makes a lot of sense for the state’s flagship institution.
It silences the criticism that they won’t play instate competition, and it delays the football game with the Red Wolves, perhaps for quite some time.
The Hogs have announced they will host UAPB in football in 2021 and 2024.
That’s honestly a matchup almost no one will care about, but given the poor quality of the Hogs’ recent non-conference home opponents, well, why not?
It was also recently announced the Lady Backs basketball team would travel to Little Rock next season to play Joe Foley’s Trojans in Verizon Arena.
Now that is game any sports fan should care about.
The Little Rock baseball team rightfully took a lot of pride in defeating the Razorbacks back in April.
The Trojans had a fine season, with that win an all-time program highlight.
The loss might have given the Razorbacks the kick in the pants they needed.
The Hogs were ranked 14th at the time, and while having a good year, something seemed to be missing.
After the loss, Arkansas got on a roll, climbing as high as number four nationally.
They won the SEC West, they won their first series over LSU since 2011, and they won 20 SEC games for the first time ever under coach Dave Van Horn.
And they once again are hosting an NCAA Regional. And with the number five overall seed, are in line to again host a Super Regional.
I doubt Van Horn is losing any sleep over that Little Rock loss.