It’s No Longer Possible to Airbrush the Damning Silence around Eric Musselman’s Fate

Eric Musselman
Craven Whitlow

Another day, another rumored destination for Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman. In what feels like clockwork at this point, the Head Hog’s latest lifeboat has him heading south to Dallas.

The smoke’s rising from a few places, including national reporter Jeff Goodman, who posted on Wednesday that Musselman is squarely in the mix for the head coaching job at SMU. Mustangs brass surprisingly fired previous SMU basketball coach Rob Lanier after a 20-13 season and NIT appearance. Given SMU is stepping up to the big leagues next year in the ACC, it appears like they’re going all-in financially to match that move. The program did done something similar 14 years ago when nabbing coaching legend Larry Brown.

The interest between Musselman and SMU may be mutual, as Arkansas basketball reporter Kevin McPherson reported a number of tempting factors that could lure Musselman to the Lone Star State, including money, NIL support and an important family connection to the area.

It’s just the latest rumor in a tumultuous off-season that has seen Musselman connected with Louisville, Arizona State, Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Washington and now SMU. 

Eric Musselman’s Radio Silence

In a move that grows more concerning by the day, the Arkansas basketball coach has been radio silent on all of these matters. This has led to anxiety in the Razorback fan base that has boiled over into frustration and anger. Natty State Sports’ John Nabors voiced some of those feelings on his Friday afternoon show.

“It’s gotta be discussed,” Nabors said in the below video. “It’s no longer simple rumor, speculation, random stuff like that. It’s as simple as, he’s either staying or he’s going, and it’s got to be right now. This is no longer just something where you can ignore it.”

“I think we have entered into the ‘endgame’ now, to borrow a line from The Avengers. It needs to be said, it needs to be addressed, it needs to be done.”

Nabors is right. Musselman, who is probably the most plugged-in 59-year-old you’ll ever see, is surely aware of all the speculation going on. Putting these rumors to bed could be done quickly and emphatically with just the push of a few buttons, as seen by Oklahoma coach Porter Moser, who quickly squashed rumors surrounding his future before the Sooners’ season even reached its conclusion.

Yes, Musselman was busy making in-home visits with transfer targets on Friday. And, yes, on Saturday it was announced that 6’10” UMass transfer Josh Cohen would take an official visit to Arkansas. So, no question, there appears to be business as usual going on behind the scenes.

Still, it matters that Musselman hasn’t said a thing. Sometimes, silence can speak volumes – and in this case, every moment that passes by without a retort from the Head Hog suggests that the speculation is true, and he is indeed looking for a way out even in the midst of all this recruiting out of the transfer portal.

Since the transfer portal opened on Monday, the Arkansas basketball program has reportedly contacted at least 36 prospects. Nabors touched on the negative recruiting impacts that the Eric Musselman uncertainty could have here.

SMU Basketball and Elephant in the Room

“If you’re Muss or whoever walking into that room or talking to that player and you’re saying ‘Hey, we’ve got this at Arkansas, we’ve got all these amenities, we’ve got all these reasons and everything’ and the player goes ‘Yeah, that’s great Coach, but what’s this about you being connected to SMU? What’s this about you leaving Arkansas? Suddenly there’s an elephant in the room.”

Elephant in the room, indeed. Prospective transfers are on social media just like fans are, and they see all of these rumors and reports connecting Musselman to outside jobs. There’s no question that it’s hurting the Razorbacks’ ability to pull in recruits from this first wave of portal entrants.

It isn’t out of the realm of possibility it also factored in Razorback players like Keyon Menifield Jr. and Layden Blocker entering the portal — though that likely has more to do with on-court results and inconsistent playing time.

Nabors even went as far as to say that Musselman’s constant connection to other jobs is starting to feel like the memes of Arkansas’ staff reaching out to every single transfer that enters the portal:

“I should never have to wonder about my coach…and whether or not he’s even going to be here,” Nabors added. “This is usually a quick-moving process, but this is something that still continues to go on.”

That process will likely be kick-started as teams with hot coaching candidates get eliminated from the Big Dance. That starts with Florida Atlantic’s Dusty May, who has been connected with both Michigan and Louisville. His candidacy could have a domino effect on Arkansas, especially if he ends up as the Wolverines’ head coach.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that the FAU basketball coach is the favorite for the Louisville job, but the Cardinals’ brass would likely pivot to a group of coaches including Musselman if they fail to land May.

With FAU getting bounced from the tournament by Northwestern on Friday, things are likely to move quickly from this point. Whether Musselman remains at Arkansas or ends up at SMU or Louisville, the best thing Hog fans can hope for is a quick resolution to the situation.

Nobody is suggesting Arkansas basketball fans should want Musselman gone. One bad season doesn’t change the fact he’s brought the program its best success since the 1990s. All the same, staying in Fayetteville when he doesn’t want to be here is a bad scenario for all parties involved.

It’s almost turned into a hostage situation, with a very low ransom/buyout of $1 million to secure the services of the Head Hog.

So if Muss wants to stay, he should say something — and say it quickly. But if he wants to leave, then he should get on with it so Arkansas can stop being held in limbo.


Watch Nabors’ segment on Eric Musselman and SMU basketball here:

YouTube video

YouTube video

More on Arkansas basketball from BoAS:

Facebook Comments