Gil LeBreton

Old neighbors Arkansas, TCU won’t recognize one another

They left in a huff, as I recall.

The Texas schools didn’t like them, they said. The referees — who were all from Texas, they claimed — didn’t like them.

And once the Southeastern Conference decided to expand and began waving big-time TV bucks at Arkansas, the Razorbacks were gone.

Seventy-six years in the Southwest Conference became an instant memory, as the Hogs gleefully put the likes of Austin, College Station, Fort Worth, Waco and Lubbock in their RVs’ rearview mirrors.

College football’s expansion era had begun.

It was a business decision, however, nothing personal, Arkansas’ legendary coach and athletic director Frank Broyles explained. The Razorbacks were simply reacting to the “changing marketplace,” he said, not turning their backs on the neighborhood.

History has proven Broyles correct, of course. The only thing that could have financially benefited the Razorbacks more than joining the SEC, as it turned out, would have been merging with Walmart.

The league they left behind soon was dust. It wasn’t so much that Arkansas was a keystone piece, as it was the national perception that the SWC was destined to fall apart like an old Tammy Wynette song.

Have they missed the TCU Horned Frogs?

I sorta doubt it. Maybe they are on those Saturday afternoons when Alabama is skinning the Hogs 52-0.

But it’s time Saturday for an old family reunion. The Hogs and Frogs. The two football teams haven’t played each other in 25 years.

It was Broyles himself who first talked to TCU’s then-AD Eric Hyman in the late 1990s about a home-and-home series. The Frogs had been orphaned by the SWC breakup. The Razorbacks missed the recruiting exposure in the Fort Worth/Dallas area.

But the series kept getting postponed. Neither side was avoiding anybody. The schedules just kept changing.

“It got pushed back — I can’t remember all the reasons by both sides,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said Tuesday.

Patterson has long held to the same scheduling philosophy.

“You’ve got to play one ballgame where you’ve got to play at a high level, one you should win and one 50-50,” he said. “One should be a stretch game, so obviously people would think this would be a stretch game for us, playing an SEC opponent.”

The Frogs have future home-and-home series scheduled with Ohio State, California, Colorado and Stanford.

None will bring the memories back to Amon G. Carter Stadium that the Razorbacks will.

While no one in Texas will argue that the defection wasn’t a financial windfall for Arkansas, the Razorbacks have had a predictable grind in the SEC West. In their 24 SEC seasons, Arkansas has won its division outright twice and tied for first on two other occasions.

The Razorbacks have been to only one BCS or CFP bowl since the BCS era began — the 2010 Sugar Bowl. They’ve lost at least five games in 12 of the past 16 seasons.

They might have prospered in the Big 12, but the Arkansas fans don’t seem to be looking back. They can’t with those silly Razorback hats on.

Even with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones coming to town Saturday night, the Arkansas folks shouldn’t expect any welcome mat. They’re still old neighbors. And once-bitter rivals.

Chances are, they won’t recognize the old stadium.

Nor the Horned Frogs.

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