Stoerner’s Joke Takes Just a Slight Edge Off Yurachek’s Chris Beard “Fumble”

Hunter Yurachek, Keith Carter, Chris Beard, Arkansas basketball, Ole Miss basketball
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics / Ole Miss Athletics

After Chris Beard publicly emerged as the leading candidate for the Arkansas job just hours after Eric Musselman’s departure, the Ole Miss coach put the rumors to bed the very next day by confirming that he was staying in Oxford.

If Beard was that top candidate for next Arkansas basketball coach, this seems to me to be a big swing and miss for Yurachek after he very publicly hedged his bet with some social media maneuvers last week.

On March 28, Yurachek put out the doctored skit video that will now live in infamy, at least until Arkansas finds its next head coach. Rumors quickly emerged that the post was made without Musselman’s knowledge – information that was confirmed by Yurachek himself in a bizarre podcast appearance a few days later.

“He’s still the head basketball coach as we sit here today at the University of Arkansas…but that may change tomorrow,” Yurachek said. “That was not something that was a coordinated or collaborated effort with Coach Musselman.”

When reports first emerged that Arkansas appeared to have Chris Beard in the bag, Yurachek looked like a genius with an ace up his sleeve for letting Musselman walk. Now, it looks a bit like he’s been caught with his pants down.

As the search moves forward, any prospective coach that Arkansas wants to interview will go in with the knowledge that they are, at best, a backup option. Now that the Hogs have whiffed on their clear-cut top option, Yurachek and the University brass will have to scramble to quickly find an alternative.

Keith Carter Outmaneuvers Yurachek…Again

This isn’t the first time Arkansas’ top option in a coaching search has gone public (see the Gus Malzahn debacle in football). In fact, it’s not even the first time that Ole Miss’ AD has gotten the better of Hunter Yurachek at the negotiating table.

Going back to 2019, Arkansas was heavy in the hunt for Lane Kiffin to fill its vacant head coaching position after the firing of Chad Morris. Ole Miss was also in on him, and in a classic case of Jimmy Sexton antics, the Razorbacks were apparently spurned by Kiffin after being outbid by Keith Carter and the Ole Miss brass. Kiffin has now turned the Rebels into a top-10 caliber team that won 11 games last year, while the Hogs are stuck in the mud after a 4-8 season.

This time feels different, though. While football is a much closer debate, Arkansas is far and away the better basketball school than Ole Miss. The Hogs have made six Final Fours and won a national title, while the Rebels have never even reached the Elite Eight. Not to mention the massive gap in fan support.

If indeed Beard was Yurachek’s top target, then getting outgunned for a basketball coach by a school that has historically put hoops on the backburner is embarrassing – especially for a prestigious basketball school with a rich history like Arkansas.

Yurachek’s mistake has led to some understandable fan outrage after having a big fish like Beard dangled over them like a carrot on a stick.

Arkansas Basketball Dodged a Bullet?

As much as Chris Beard made sense for Arkansas from a basketball and financial standpoint, there’s no denying that he was far from a clean-cut hire. It can’t go without mention the way Beard’s tenure ended at Texas – fired for cause after allegedly battering his fiancee.

And that’s the problem with Beard – you can’t write a story about him without always having to add that caveat.

Texas diehard Jonny Brashear chimed in on that subject with a column warning Arkansas fans about the danger of going all-in on a coach with such a troubled past. He makes a good point in saying that any success Arkansas achieved under Beard would never distance the Razorbacks from mugshots in student sections and police report screenshots in comment sections.

As an Arkansas basketball fan who left some similar comments of my own under Ole Miss posts last season, I can personally attest to that fact.

So it’s likely that from an ethics standpoint, Arkansas dodged a bullet. But as far as optics go, it feels like the coaching search has lost luster with this change. It’s not like the sky is falling, though, as there are plenty of other quality options out there. A full list of other candidates Arkansas might consider can be found on Best of Arkansas Sports’ hot board.

After all, the first name shouted in a coaching search is almost never the one that ends up being introduced at the press conference. But in order to avoid any further “Hogs gonna Hog” uproar, Yurachek will need to move quickly and find a solid hire that will excite more folks in Fayetteville than it will enrage.

Since every coach Arkansas will ever hire will be both lauded and despised at different points, it’s good to keep perspective about this whole search as the ground keeps shifting below us.

No doubt, humor helps here, as former Arkansas quarterback Clint Stoerner shows us when chiming in on where Yurachek’s “fumble” ranks on the all-time leaderboard: 

YouTube video


More coverage of Arkansas basketball and the search for the next Arkansas basketball coach…

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