Next Hogs Coach: Early Signing Periods Hurts Programs Like Arkansas

Arkansas Early Signing Period

-by Tommy Foltz


With the coaching search in full swing, let’s check and see how our potential candidates fared over the weekend.


—Matt Campbell:  Iowa State beat the Horns (beginning to like him more) 6-4 overall, bowl eligible, 4-3 in conference = middle of the Big 12

—Mike Norvell: Memphis is 9-1 overall, 5-1 in conference and leads the American West

—Mike Leach: Washington State got crushed by Stanford.  Bottom of the PAC 12.  I know he’s had success, but I’m still having a hard time seeing his appeal.

—Sam Pittman:  Associate HC for Georgia beat Auburn in a good game.  Leads SEC East.  Great coach, but he’s never been a “real” head coach.  I’m still not convinced he’s our guy.

Lane Kiffin:  Florida Atlantic routed FIU on Saturday by 30, and FYI, Florida Atlantic beat Western Kentucky 35-24 earlier in the year.  I still don’t want him.


Nowadays, from December 20-22, football recruits can ink National Letters of Intents to officially join the programs of their choice. This is a change from a few years ago. Used to be, the earliest they could do this was on the first Wednesday of February.

I’m not a big fan for this early signing day.  Not sure what problem they’re trying to solve.  If it’s trying to create parity, it falls short. 

What I do know is that it is of absolutely no use to schools that have just fired their coach, or worse yet, schools that fire their coach after their last game — which is when most are fired.  Firing a coach during the season, as Arkansas just did is about as rare as a a Big Foot or Loch Ness Monster sighting.  Well, not that rare, but I’m sure you’re picking up what I’m putting down.  


—Many fans won’t tolerate a guy coming off a losing season, or who just got fired (one reason the Mike Leach prospect alarms me)

—We want to hire a coach who’s been successful (i.e. he’s gotten a Power 5 to a bowl, or a mid-major program to multiple bowls)

—But, if you’re bowl eligible, it’s bad form to just pick up stakes and leave that program before your bowl game. That likely guarantees a high profile loss for the school that’s been paying you for however long

—We’ll always wonder if he’s going to do that to us

So, if you want to hire a coach who’s bowl eligible, but you also want to believe that he won’t one day “better deal” us, then he’s got to stay where he is and miss the early signing period.  Period.

None of it lines up.  Look at how many class of 2020 de-commits we’ve had.  How does a new coach cobble together a recruiting class when he’s prepping for a bowl game, and interviewing with Hunter Yurachek but not sure if he’ll actually land the job?

Here’s the issue for Arkansas: We’ll keep some in-state guys out of their loyalty to the Hogs, but we absolutely need to keep what Chad Morris started rolling. We must recruit at a high level out of state, namely Texas.


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Unless we hire someone who doesn’t have a current coaching job AND who has a big name quickly, we’re SOL during this next early signing period.  We’ll have a weak class who will continue to be weak until they’re seniors, which will hamstring us for the next 4 years and will possibly be responsible for this next Razorback coach’s firing at that time.


There are few guarantees in life.  But here’s one absolute: Multiple college coaches will be fired at the end of every season, which will lead to complicated coaching searches. 

Early signing makes it more complicated and disadvantages the teams who are looking for coaches dramatically.  In 2018, 238 of ESPN’s top 300 recruits signed on this day, leaving those programs with shaky coaching situations on the outside looking in.

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

GO HOGS!!!!!


For the latest on next Hogs coaching search, watch the below clip. Insider Mike Irwin talks about how Steve Cox is assistant Hunter Yurachek in the search, the one condition in which Sam Pittman would take the job, and more:

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