Clint Stoerner on why Arkansas should aim to be the “Oregon of the South”

It’s been half a decade since Clint Stoerner last quarterbacked a team. The former Arkansas Razorback record-setter and Dallas Cowboy starter played the last few seasons of his pro career in the Arena Football League before settling in Little Rock in the summer of 2007. Since then, he’s worked in public relations for a medical equipment company and, in his current job, does a little bit of everything as vice president of Stoerner & HaVas Insurance Agency, Inc. It’s work that demands constant travel around Arkansas. And wherever he goes, on camera or off, people want to talk about the state of the Hogs.

Q: You talk about the Razorbacks at a ton of events and fundraisers.With Arkansas struggling, have less people asked you to make these appearances?

A: Absolutely not. If anything, when Arkansas is not doing well, everybody wants to know why, everybody wants to know how, everybody wants to hear somebody else’s take on it. It’s probably better for my business when we don’t do well [chuckling]. I’m busier when controversy hits – things like the Petrino [scandal], when those staying set I start getting calls from everybody, ESPN, everybody.

Q: When do think Bobby Petrino will next coach at a major college or in the NFL?

A: I think he will coach next year. I think there will be some teams out there who are willing to hand him the keys to the palace – the head coaching job – but I definitely think there will be teams out there who will be wanting his services from an offensive coordinator standpoint.

Q: Arkansas (3-4) plays Ole Miss this weekend in Little Rock. How will the Hogs do?

A: I think we’ll see a better team than we saw earlier in the year. I think the guys have matured and come together and seemed to have gotten in a little bit of a rhythm offensively… I think it will be a lot better game than we thought it would be three weeks ago.

Q: Two veteran leaders on Arkansas’ defense – Tenarius Wright and Alonzo Highsmith – are out for the season. Given their absences and the improved upcoming teams, is the Hogs’ defense ultimately in deep trouble?

A: I think it’s all predicated on our offense. Offensively, if we don’t play the way we played the last two weeks, then I think we’ll be in some trouble regardless of who the opponent is. I think we are good enough defensively where if we do our job offensively we’ll be fine.

Q: So, how many games will Arkansas end up winning?

A: I think we will win six, maybe seven. We get by Ole Miss and Tulsa, that puts us at 5-4. I think we’ll get one of the last three matches against LSU, South Carolina and Mississippi State. I don’t think we’ve got what it takes to beat South Carolina on the road but I do think we’ve got what it takes – if we pick play up to our potential – to possibly beat the other two.

Q: When you talk to fans, who are the top three candidates for Arkansas’ next head coach you hear about? No Jon Gruden, Pete Carroll or Vince Lombardi allowed.

A: The main ones with Arkansas ties are who everybody wants to talk about. That’s Butch Davis, Tommy Tuberville, and Charlie Strong. That’s just the way Arkansas is. It’s a great thing – everybody wants a guy who’s got ties to the state but I just don’t think Jeff Long has those same thoughts. I just don’t think it’s a priority in his mind. Personally, I think it’s just not going to be a head coach. It’s going to have to be a combination of a head coach and a coordinator to make a difference. If it’s a defensive coach, then you need an offensive coordinator that’s special. If it’s an offensive coach, then you need a defensive coordinator that’s special.

Q: Who’s your top candidate, then?

A: I’m a big Dana Holgorsen fan [West Virginia’s head coach]. I don’t know if he’s going to be available, I have heard through the grapevine that he is…West Virginia is the spitting image of what Arkansas has been the last few years –  they can score with anybody on offense but the defense struggles.

Q: In the past, though, Holgersen has developed a reputation as a guy who loves to party and drink alcohol.

A: Yeah, he’s a single guy. I know him … he does enjoy going to dinner, I guess, and having a couple of drinks – live life and enjoy the moment, those type things. There is nothing wrong with that. Now, that may be held against him with our history in the last year or so. I don’t think he’s doing anything out there that every other head coach in America has done at some point in his career. I personally don’t think that should scare us off at all.”

Q: Your take on Texas Tech’s Tommy Tuberville?

Tuberville’s old school. Tuberville’s a lot like the guy at K state. They play good defense, they run the ball, they control the clock… it will be interesting to see. I think if he continues to win, he’ll be a serious player in this head coach hunt. With his ties. I think he’’ll be somebody that everybody in the state will rally around.

A: I am interested to see how the year moves forward. A week ago, everybody wanted Holgorsen. Then he loses 45-14 to Texas Tech. Now everybody wants Tuberville… I don’t think Jeff Long is swaying back and forth like that. By the time [Arkansas leaders] make their decision, I think the pool of available coaches is gonna change in the next month… I think Texas is gonna be the hunt, I think Tennessee is gonna be in the hunt, Auburn’s probably gonna be in the hunt.

Q: How do you like Charlie Strong?

A: I’m not totally opposed to Charlie Strong. I’m a little bit scared of him because he’s only been a head coach for a couple years at Louisville. But you couple Charlie Strong with somebody who has the same scheme as we’ve had in the past – an offensive coordinator that can do that – and I’m a fan of that.

Q: How can Arkansas ever close the recruiting talent gap with the SEC’s big boys?

A. You’ve got to be diverse, you’ve got to be different in your scheme… You can’t line up and play smash mouth football with the guys who invented smash mouth football – LSU and Alabama.
Oregon is the perfect example. They have created a scheme and a reputation that young kids recognize and want to be a part of, often times over Alabama and LSU. And I think that’s how you beat those guys. I don’t think you beat those guys at their own game. You’ve got to counter that size and strength with something and it’s got to be scheme and speed in my opinion… I think [Arkansas] really has a chance to become the Oregon of the South.”

Q: Let’s talk Cowboys. Beyond their struggles this year, Dallas has had all kinds of problems getting deep into the playoffs in recent seasons. How much of this is quarterback Tony Romo’s fault?

A: The quarterback always gets a lot of the blame and credit so I think a lot of it has to do with him. He’s failed to play consistently over a several game span. He always has that one game out of every two or three that he just struggles in; he just plays like a rookie instead of like the three or four time Pro Bowler that he is. It’s tough to watch right now, for sure.

This piece originally published in Sync magazine
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