As many know who follow the Arkansas Razorbacks sports programs, I, as many others, continue to wonder who the next head football coach of the razorbacks will be. Chad Morris was fired on November 10th by athletic director Hunter Yurachek and so far the coaching search has been kept lip tight. Everything that has been heard or mentioned is based on rumors and speculation even if some have claimed sources. So lets run thru the rumors and I will give my thoughts on each candidate.
Barry Lunney Jr. – The former razorback QB turned TE coach and now the Interem Head Coach knew that Saturday against LSU was going to be a tough game. You don’t just go into a football game against the number 1 team in the nation and not expect a tough game out of it. Lunney however had his team somewhat ready though. As a 44.5 point underdog earlier in the week, Arkansas covered, but still ultimately lost 56-20. Does this give Lunney a chance at the head coaching position if they win against Missouri on Red Friday in Little Rock? I don’t think so, win or lose, Lunney will not be the head coach next season, but HY should take into account how important Lunney is and attempt to retain him.
Mike Norvell – Reports came out that Mike Norvell has met with UofA administrators and has shown more interest in the FSU job rather than Arkansas. If true, this is a troublesome time because Norvell is probably more a front runner than anyone else for the position. If this is indeed the case then HY has already began moving in another direction. Arkansas probably cannot outbid an FSU team even though FSU will fork out more money to Willie Taggart after firing him. Mike Norvell is probably not coming to Arkansas.
Mike Leach – The former Texas Tech head coach and now Washington State head coach has been a winner just about anywhere he has been. Being fired from Texas Tech for cause and then making his way to Washington State. He has been very successful with his air raid offense just about anywhere he has gone. The negatives that many have talked about on Twitter is that he upsets and attacks the fans and players too much and speaks his mind too often. In today’s era of everything is offensive, some are very negative about him. Others are worried about his record at Washington State and that he barely has a winning record in the Pac 12. This is not a “for Mike Leach” statement but one should look at how that program was before he showed up. From 2008-2011, the Cougars, led by Paul Wulff were 9-40 at a winning percentage of just 18%. Since 2012 (the hire of Mike Leach), they have went 52-40, a winning percentage of 57.5%. Something to think about when you are a fan of a team that has went 8-27 in the past 3 seasons. Mike Leach is an interesting candidate.
Sam Pittman – Pittman is an interesting candidate. Hog fans love him and miss him, and for good reason. He was the reason that Bret Beilema had one of the greatest offensive lines in the SEC and all of college football for a few years running. He also has been quoted to say that he would love to return to UofA if given the chance. Would it be possible for him to become the head coach though? Especially with 0 head coach experience. I don’t think that HY would bet his job security on a guy with no experience. He kinda falls in the same category with Lunney in that aspect, but imagine a team where you’ve got Lunney and Pittman working on the same offense again. I hope that HY can lure him away from Georgia with the next head coach but in the end Pittman will not be the next head football coach at the UofA.
Lane Kiffin – Another coach that has been on the radar for the UofA thru the last 3 coaching changes is Kiffin. He has been a journeyman at this point in his career. A not so great NFL coaching job in Oakland, then moving to Tennesee for a nice yearly vacation, afterwards going to USC for a few years where he was fired mid-season, making a stop in Alabama to run the offense for Nick Saban, and now in Florida where he has been fairly successful at FAU. You can’t argue his success in the College Football circles but you can argue that he doesn’t stick around somewhere for very long. I personally am on the “Lane Train” hire but I am also one that understands why many do not want him as the head coach. It is very interesting to me how it will pan out if Lane Kiffin does in time get the job.
Gus Malzahn – This man as of right now is again on the hot seat in Auburn. A quiet hot seat, but a hot seat nonetheless. Former high school coach in Arkansas, and former offensive coordinator at UofA. Gus Malzahn made a stop in Tulsa before becoming the offensive coordinator for Auburns national championship season. Leaving Auburn for Arkansas State, then returning to Auburn after the firing of Gene Chizik. Gus Malzahn has been on the hot seat many season in Auburn because he has to compete with Nick Saban every year. Auburn has always been the little brother in Alabama but the expectations are constantly title or bust. He has a massive buyout at Auburn and Arkansas will not pay that buyout for a guy that has a 50-50 approval/disapproval rate for the fans in Arkansas. I am loosely using those numbers because every radio show in Arkansas uses the same numbers. If Gus is indeed fired if he loses to Alabama, dropping Auburns record to 8-4 this season, would UofA give him a chance? Would HY give him a chance? I think he would be successful in Arkansas but I don’t know if the fans will give him much of a chance if he isn’t successful from the start. If he is successful then the fans will quit caring who the coach is in my opinion. Only time will tell.
Bobby Petrino – No, he is over the hill and past his prime and even though he had a great QB at Lousiville in Lamar Jackson, the portion of the state of Arkansas that is still for him needs to move on and let it go. Bobby Petrino will not return to Arkansas as the head coach of the Razorbacks.
Houston Nutt – I understand why fans like the idea of him returning but I don’t see it and with his interview on 103.7 the buzz, it sounds like he doesn’t see it happening either. Although I would love to see Houston Nutt play a part in the athletics department somewhere with the football program he will not return as the head hog.
Willie Fritz – I believe that this candidate is flying under the radar for many reasons. For one he is at Tulane, and nobody believes that we need to reach out into the group of 5 for another head coach this time around, but I think that he would bring instant opportunites for success. His overall head coaching record is 176-95 within all of his stops (Central Missouri (97-47), Sam Houston State (40-15), Georgia Southern (17-7), and now Tulane (22-26)). Many will point out though that he has not had a winning record at Tulane in his 3rd season, mimicking that of Chad Morris at SMU. Fritz is different in that account because of his previous stops. I don’t think Fritz will be given a chance but I think he should get a hard look for sure.
I feel that I could go on about more candidates but these candidates I believe have the best chance or have been spoken of the most. With the exception of Willie Fritz, he was added last moment after a friend asked me to look into him, and if I missed some that you would like to hear of then please feel free to comment or send a message on twitter @grayman1410. Thank you for reading and have a blessed day and GO HAWGS!!!