Rejecting Aggies Is Common Thread for Hogs’ Next Step after Kenny Guiton’s Departure

Garrick McGee

Two years ago, Arkansas kicker Vito Calvaruso left Fayetteville to join the Wisconsin Badgers.

Now, it looks like Razorback wide receivers coach Kenny Guiton is going to follow the same path northward.

On Tuesday evening, reports broke that Guiton will leave the Arkansas football program after three seasons to take the same job with the Badgers under Luke Fickell. No doubt, a lot of the players loved him. That came across loud and clear in the aftermath of this season’s Florida win, when he had to moonlight as offensive coordinator and received a warm embrace by KJ Jefferson in the stadium tunnel as the team cheered around them.

The love also came across in the live Instagram video on Tuesday evening where Razorback wide receivers Davion Dozier, Andrew Armstrong and Isaiah Sategna openly grieved Kenny Guiton’s departure, with Sategna going so far as to say he would not be a Razorback were it not for the 32-year-old. Indeed, coming out of high school, Sategna rejected two schools – Texas A&M and Oregon – to eventually land with the Hogs.

Dozier, who just finished his freshman season, shared similar sentiments. “I’m so sick right now,” Dozier said. “He came to my house, bro. He came to talk to my momma, bro. He’s the reason why I came up (here).”

One of the group chimed in that after the departure, “it’s really fixin’ to be a ghost town now,” insinuating perhaps more exiting transfers would occur.

At another part, a receiver said he was so sad he was going to go just stand in the shower and listen to some Drake.

A lot of Arkansas football fans, however, won’t be nearly as distraught. Guiton certainly helped develop a few standout wide receivers like Treylon Burks, Matt Landers and Armstrong. Getting Jadon Haselwood, a former No. 1-ranked recruit at wide receiver, was a huge get out of the portal heading into the 2022 season.

Still, the biggest knock on him comes from this season when most of the receivers’ route running left a lot to be desired (although it was by and large a lot cleaner than the offensive iine’s blocking). Still, the lack of development seen in guys like Sategna and Isaac TeSlaa left a lot of fans cool towards Guiton. That attitude only soured when recruit Courtney Crutchfield, the state’s top prep wide receiver, de-committed from Arkansas and signed with Missouri instead.

Arkansas Football’s Next Offensive Coordinator?

Vito Calvaruso did eventually return to Fayetteville, and boomeranging back to the Ozarks could be in play for Kenny Guiton’s replacement too.

It would make a lot of sense for new offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino to go with someone he already knows and is familiar with his power spread system. Two possibilities already worked under Petrino when Petrino was Arkansas’ head coach in 2008-2011. That would be his younger brother, Paul, who served as the wide receivers coach in 2008 and 2009. Petrino most recently worked as head coach of Idaho, where he was fired after nine seasons and a 34-66 record.

The next possibility, which is gaining more traction in certain circles online, is Garrick McGee, the former quarterbacks coach at Arkansas whom Petrino promoted to offensive coordinator in 2010. McGee, who was the first African-American offensive or defensive coordinator in Arkansas football history, helped Petrino lead two of the best offenses the Razorbacks have ever produced. That 2010 team reached the Sugar Bowl, where Arkansas played Ohio State, which then had Guiton on the roster as a quarterback and Fickell manning the defensive coordinator spot.

Late Tuesday night, Chris Gragg, a star receiver on the 2011 team, indicated that any smoke involving Paul Petrino or Garrick McGee might have had some validity:

Getting McGee would make a lot of sense. He’s a Tulsa native and so could help recruit that area. More importantly, he’s been around the block in the SEC a few times, spending time at Arkansas, Florida and Missouri, where he coached under Barry Odom. Pittman getting both Petrino and Odom vouching for McGee would likely matter given how much Pittman trusts Odom, his former defensive coordinator and Missouri head coach.

Interestingly, Petrino already tried to get him once.

Last offseason, when Petrino was the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M, he made a play to hire McGee twice away from Louisville, according to college football insider Bruce Feldman.

But McGee twice rejected Texas A&M to stay in Louisville, where he’d also coached under Petrino years before in a previous stint.

At that point, though, it was unclear how much jousting for offensive control there would be between Petrino and Jimbo Fisher. It’s easy to see why McGee would have wanted to steer clear of that kind of drama even if the money would have been better.

UPDATE:

As of Wednesday evening, it looks like McGee wants to let the public know he’s out of the running for Arkansas’ next wide receiver coach — at least for now, according to college football insider Bruce Feldman:

Squashing this talk is no surprise considering that Louisville played USC in the Holiday Bowl on Wednesday night. It would be a bad look for McGee to get distracted with talking about a new job given the circumstances, but that doesn’t mean he can’t talk to Pittman and Petrino after his season ends.

In Play for Evan Stewart from Texas A&M Football?

The man that McGee would have replaced as the Texas A&M football wide receivers coach would have been Dameyune Craig, who ended up being fired after this season after five years in College Station.

Craig, at 49 years old, has had a well-rounded coaching career over the last couple decades:

2004LSU (GA)
2005Miami Dolphins (STA)
2006–2007Tuskegee (QB)
2008–2009South Alabama (WR)
2010–2012Florida State (QB)
2013–2015Auburn (co-OC/WR)
2016LSU (WR)
2017Florida State (Quality Control)
2018–2023Texas A&M (WR)

The knock on Craig is that he doesn’t develop future pros but, man oh man, can he recruit. For Jimbo Fisher he helped land multiple blue-chip recruits, including a future Heisman Trophy winner in Jameis Winston when the two were at Florida State. At Texas A&M, Craig landed Evan Stewart, who was considered one of the nation’s top young receivers coming into this season.

Evan Stewart decided to turn away from Texas A&M after Fisher was fired and has entered the transfer portal. Although he had an underwhelming sophomore campaign, he’s now considered the best player still on the board, according to On3’s Pete Nakos. For a while, it seemed like Alabama was going to land Stewart, but that has quieted down in the last few days.

“I’ve heard Texas and Alabama rumored,” Nakos said during Tuesday’s episode of Andy Staples On3. “And I’ve also been told by sources that those at not really viable options.”

It’s not known how good of a relationship Evan Stewart had with Petrino and Craig in his time at Texas A&M, but as long as they were on good terms, you would think the fact his coaches would already know his game inside and out would be a good thing.

As for how Dameyune Craig would integrate under Bobby Petrino, expect the dynamic to play out similarly to how Jake Crain discusses Craig fitting in with Huge Freeze at his alma mater, Auburn: “I don’t need you to come here and design the offense. I don’t even need you to coach the wide receivers. You can help me game plan. That’s great. I’m the one with the sheet.”

“I’m the one calling the plays. We see this all the time in college school with head coaches that call the plays, or even defensive coaches. They bring in guys that are great recruiters.”

Arkansas is going to need some more great recruiters immediately if Guiton’s departure ends up causing a Razorback or two to seriously consider jumping ship.

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Garrick McGee’s Coaching Stops Since Arkansas

2008–2009Arkansas (QB)
2010–2011Arkansas (OC/QB)
2012–2013UAB
2014–2015Louisville (AHC/OC/QB)
2016–2017Illinois (OC/QB)
2018Missouri (analyst)
2019Missouri (WR)
2020Florida (analyst)
2021Florida (QB)
2022Purdue (WR)
2023–presentLouisville (WR)

For more discussion of possibilities to replace Guiton, watch this:

Highlights of Evan Stewart vs top competition here:

More on Arkansas football from BoAS here:

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