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Petrino Wants Arkansas-LSU Back On Fridays

CBS decided last year to make a break from tradition.  Instead of airing Arkansas-LSU on the Friday after Thanksgiving — as it had from 1996 through 2008 — the network opted to show Alabama-Auburn.  That two-year experiment ends after Friday’s Iron Bowl.

Bobby Petrino hopes it ends for good.

“I liked (Arkansas-LSU) on Friday,” Arkansas’ coach said yesterday.  “I liked the difference, mixing up the week, shorter preparation.  Sometimes you don’t do as much and you play better.”

Yes, but there’s another reason Petrino liked playing on the Black Friday. 

“I like the fact that everybody was home on Friday and watched it.”  Bingo.  That’s the one.  “Everyone that first year (we were in Arkansas), when we went out on the road recruiting after the game in Little Rock, it seemed every school we went into, every home we went into, they watched that game on TV.”

Alabama, Auburn and LSU are all blessed to be located in fertile recruiting ground.  Arkansas is not.  The Natural State has a small population and it fails to produce a great number of NFL-caliber athletes.  That puts Petrino and the Hogs at a disadvantage.

Being the only big-time afternoon game on TV the Friday after Thanksgiving was a great way for Petrino and Arkansas to show off their program to people who might not have caught the Hogs otherwise.

But according to, Petrino isn’t likely to “do a lot of lobbying” for CBS to move Arkansas-LSU back to Friday next year.  “But maybe upstairs they can do it,” he said.  In other words, UA athletic director Jeff Long is already working the phones.

From a league perspective, the Iron Bowl will draw viewers whether it is played on Friday or Saturday.  Like Ohio State-Michigan, Alabama-Auburn is a game national fans will watch simply based on tradition and name value alone. 

Arkansas-LSU, however, might not draw big numbers if it’s played on Saturday instead of Friday.  So it is our view that the non-guaranteed draw should be the game scheduled for the Friday “can’t miss” slot.  That would insure that both games get a maximum number of eyeballs.

We’ll see if the league and CBS agree when they lay out the 2011 schedule.


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