New Hogs Coach: Whittlin’ Down To The Best Candidates

New Hogs coach

by Tommy Foltz

This is the fourth and final of a 7-column series (Yeah, I know it doesn’t add up) on who should be the next coach of the football Hogs.  I’ve already made the case against Lane Kiffin, Mike Leach and Gus Malzahn.  

This last weekend was vital in our coaching search.  Now that Gus won the Iron Bowl, anyone who had any fantasies about him coming to Arkansas can stand down. It ain’t gonna happen.

Then, on Sunday, the airplane detectives were out, showing Yurachek headed down to Boca Raton for more than a quick splash in the sea. Looks like he spoke to Kiffin, which has taken the Kiffin-to-Arkansas hubbub to nauseating heights. 

“Amid reports of athletic director Hunter Yurachek and his right hand man Jon Fagg have met with Lane Kiffin, we can confirm that Lane has had significant conversations with the Razorbacks brass about the job. However, a source close to Lane shares that despite how long the talks continue to go back and forth, it’s certainly not a lock that he takes the job.”

-The Football Scoop


Given the dreariness blanketing Little Rock much of this past weekend, I can’t help but think about the cloud that hangs over the Hog football program.  While there’s a possibility of sunshine in the future, it’s going to take a while.

QUESTION:

At this point, I think the real question is not who will “get” the job at Arkansas, but who will “take” the job at Arkansas?  The program is in distress. Period. I hate to say it, but it’s going to take a lot to turn it around, especially when we play in the toughest division in college football history.

AND:

The fan base is crumbling.  I’d never seen a crowd that small at War Memorial Stadium, except for a Catholic High football game.  And, yes, I was part of the problem, because I left in the middle of the 2nd quarter of the Mizzou loss. Why? Because, there’s not a product on the field worth sticking around for.

—33,691 souls attended the event — pitiful — embarrassing pathetic

—I also didn’t want to wait in line while 20 people ordered their hot dogs and nachos.  

—It’s an interesting paradox that the concession vendors could have such a hard time serving the smallest crowd in recent memory

—If we want Hog games in LR we’re going to have to step it up, WMS!!!!!!

Here are the pitiful stats:

—The two QBs who played went 11 of 31 for less than 80 yards

—Jack Lindsey DID throw 2 TDs, can’t take that away from him

—Rakeem Boyd had 95 yards, which was about the only real bright spot

Man, will Arkansas miss this next season if he leaves early for the NFL:

GOOD AUTHORITY:

I was told last Wednesday evening that Gus Malzahn will be our next coach.  That information came from someone in DeWitt. The Horton’s are from DeWitt and Tim Horton works for Gus.

At Thanksgiving lunch I was told that Matt Campbell was the guy.  The person who told that to me is just as credible.

At this point, I’m just hoping someone will take me duck hunting in the Stuttgart/Dewitt area……..

AT THIS POINT IN THE SEARCH:

I’m just going to talk about the guys who “might” be acceptable.  In no particular order: Sam Pittman, Mike Norvell, Matt Campbell, Barry Lunney, Jr., Matt Rhule from Baylor, Luke Fickell from Cincinnati. 

ERIC MUSSELMAN:

Just kidding, but damn, I wish he was a football coach.  He’s done nothing but good since he’s been here. His players are playing for him.  He’s got a sophisticated system that he’s able to teach. This begs the question: “Can the players not be taught, or can the coaches not teach?”  Musselman can teach. What we need is a coach who can teach.

BTW, we’re 7-0. 

MR. FICKELL:

Impressive, but he’s never coached outside of Ohio.  That’s home for him. He was a player at OSU and he’s spent most of his career there.  Now he’s at Cincinnati. I think Luke Fickell would be a good hire, but no doubt he’d leave at the first opportunity to go back to Ohio State.  No bueno.

THE RHULES:

Matt Rhule has done an amazing job of rejuvenating Baylor.  He’s rehabilitated a program that came as close to the death penalty since SMU.  But, guess what? They’re number 9 in the country, they just crushed Kansas (61-6) and he makes $4.25 million, which is $250,000 more than Morris was making.  Why would he come here?  

More important, he’s a Penn State guy like Fickell is an Ohio State guy.  He’d jump in a heartbeat to go back there. No bueno.

SAM I AM:

If you’re reading this website, you probably know who Sam Pittman is.  But, as a reminder, he was the offensive line coach in the early part of the Bielema regime when we were nasty as nails up front.  If we lost, it wasn’t because of the offensive line.    

Somehow Bielema blew that up……and now Pittman is an Associate Head Coach at Georgia.

Pittman has former players lobbying for him, which means a hell of a lot.  If your former players are trying to get you a job, that means your current players are going to play for you.  Nuff said. I’d take him.

LEGEND:

As I’ve said, Barry Lunney, Jr. is Arkansan to the core.  His dad is a coaching legend in Arkansas high school football.  Jr. played during a similar transition for the Hogs. 

The Mizzou loss did not help his cause, and I doubt he’ll get the job. At a minimum the next coach should keep him on staff.  Still, Lunney may be the best we can get.

MATT:

I’m not for Matt Campbell.  He coaches in the Big 12, which is a red flag.  Over the years, as a conference, they somehow collectively decided to quit playing defense.  I’m not sure why we would want a coach to lead us through the defense-heavy SEC who’s not really used to having to play defense.  Maybe he’ll be okay. Ok, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Still, we should be wary.

NORVELL:

He beat Cincinnati, coached by Fickell.  Well……..there you have it. Enough said…….I’m for him, but it looks like he’s going to Florida State.  

KIFFIN:

If I hear his name again I’m gonna shoot someone. 

FREEZE:

He makes Petrino look like a choir boy.

HERE’S THE DEAL:

Our next coach will inherit a team with limited talent and whose coach was fired three quarters through a season, less than two years in.  We have no depth, and any team that starts 5 QBs in the last 5 games of the year has got major issues. Rakeem Boyd, arguably our most reliable guy, may go pro. Plus, we can’t put more than 35,000 butts in the seats of a stadium that’s located in the largest city in the state.

This is why obscene buyout clauses exist in coaching contracts.  If you were going to a team that mostly has mid-major talent and you knew you had Alabama, Auburn and LSU on the schedule every year, wouldn’t you want one too?

GO HOGS!!!!!!!

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Hear the latest of the search for the new Hogs coach, including details about Yurachek’s apparent trip to visit Kiffin, here:

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Read Tommy Foltz’s latest column here:

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