Arkansas ‘disappointed’ with timing of UM decision

The Detroit News
Jeff Long

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long says he was “disappointed” with the timing of Michigan’s decision to cancel its two-game football series against the Razorbacks.

Michigan and Arkansas had been scheduled to meet in 2018 and 2019, but the Wolverines pulled out after finalizing a deal to resume their series with Notre Dame.

Michigan and Notre Dame will now meet in 2018 and 2019.

“Primarily, we are disappointed in Michigan’s timing in pulling out of a nonconference football series between the SEC and the Big Ten that has been set for four years,” Long said in a statement. “While there are many other quality opponents that would help us strengthen our nonconference schedule, the late notice of Michigan’s cancellation makes securing those games substantially more difficult.

"Our focus will be to find a program that welcomes the opportunity to compete against a nationally respected program in the most competitive conference in college football.”

Michigan-Notre Dame to play again in 2018, 2019

Michigan, under then-athletic director Dave Brandon, and Arkansas signed a contract in 2012 to play in 2018-19.

Long is a former Michigan athletic department administrator. He had been considered among the top candidates to replace interim Michigan AD Jim Hackett, but the job went to Warde Manuel.

The Arkansas athletic department said Long was informed of Michigan’s decision to cancel the series – with a penalty fee of $2 million that UM will pay to the Razorbacks – in an email on Wednesday night.

“As a former player and coach in the Big Ten, I was looking forward to the opportunity for our team to compete against one of my favorite Big Ten conference rivals,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. “I’m disappointed that won’t happen now. But, I know that our administration will work to get a quality non-conference game that will help prepare us to compete in the SEC and nationally.”