The SEC has a scheduling policy in place to have all 14 members play at least one power conference opponent each season. Exceptions have and will be made when appropriate, and that is the case for Arkansas and its 2018 schedule. Arkansas has announced a 2018 home game against Colorado State of the Mountain West Conference. The game fills out the Arkansas schedule for 2018 without a power conference opponent on the non-conference schedule, but the SEC is giving the Razorbacks a pass.
The September 8, 2018 road game at Colorado State has been excused by the SEC after the Razorbacks were left in a bit of a bind with the schedule for 2018. Arkansas originally had a home-and-home series lined up with Michigan, but the Wolverines opted to buy out the contract in order to arrange for a home-and-home series with longtime rival Notre Dame. Arkansas attempted to fulfill its scheduling requirement for the SEC by tracking down a power conference opponent for the vacant spot on the schedule, but found no takers available. As a result, Arkansas worked out a deal with Colorado State to tack on an extra game to go with a 2019 home game already on the books. Rather than have Colorado State make two trips to Arkansas, the Rams may have held some bargaining power and were able to get the SEC program to head to Fort Collins for the first part in a home-and-home arrangement.
“Being able to bring an SEC opponent to Fort Collins speaks to the growth of our program and also speaks to the impact our new on-campus stadium is already making,” Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo said in a released statement. “We want to challenge ourselves in our non-conference schedule and also bring those quality opponents to our home field and our fans.”
For Colorado State, the level of difficulty for the schedule is just about as good as it can get for a midmajor program. In 2018, the Rams will face in-state rival Colorado, Arkansas, and Florida. Colorado State has lined up a good handful of power conference opponents for future schedules, including Vanderbilt (2020-2021, 2025-2026), Texas Tech (2025-2026) and Arizona (2027-2028). This upcoming season, the Rams play Colorado in Denver, at Alabama and at home against Oregon State.
The SEC allows games against Army, BYU and Notre Dame to count toward the conference’s power conference scheduling requirement and makes exemptions given the right set of circumstances when appropriate. Arkansas does already have the non-conference scheduling commitment satisfied for 2017 (TCU) and 2021 (Texas) but still has a spot to fill on its schedule for a power conference opponent every other season starting in 2019 (Portland State, Colorado State, San Jose State). If Arkansas cannot find another power conference opponent play in 2019, it may need to beg the SEC for forgiveness once more and hope Colorado State can be good enough for consideration.
All of those does bring an interesting question to the table. What happens if a school does not satisfy the conference’s power conference requirement on the schedule? Is there any actual punishment?