It’s been about three weeks since Chad Morris was let go at Arkansas, and the wheels have been turning behind the scenes on the search for the next head coach with the Razorbacks.
We have consistently heard that the top brass of the Hogs are in search of a “big name” that the fans will all rally behind. The whisper in the profession of late is that the “big name” Hunter Yurachek was hoping to land is Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell. Campbell is a proven program builder and he continues to be a hot name each off season, now in his fourth season at Iowa State. Our understanding has been that Campbell was expected to turn down the opportunity. If Yurachek were somehow able to sell & land Campbell, that would be something the fan base would certainly rally behind.
Another “big name” is Mike Leach. We have not heard anything to make us believe that Leach has been ruled out of this one, and he is undoubtedly a coach that the Razorback fan base could rally around. However, outbursts like the one directed at a reporter following their Apple Cup loss to Washington over the weekend certainly don’t do much to help him make his case in Fayetteville. Fact is, if you hire Mike Leach you get a great football coach who is highly entertaining; but also one who you never quite know what he is going to say. Many ADs can live with that, some can not.
There has also been some chatter about Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente with the intriguing pairing of Fuente once again joining forces with former Missouri head coach Barry Odom as his defensive coordinator. The two previously worked together to build up the Memphis program. Hog fans would likely rally behind this pair as well.
With all that said, the logical window to meet with head coaches who will be coaching this upcoming weekend in conference championship games was the past two days.
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. Complicating matters, as champs of the C-USA East, Lane and FAU play in the conference title game against UAB this upcoming Saturday.
From the get go, we heard that Arkansas is also considering Memphis’ head coach Mike Norvell. The early word was that Norvell appeared more interested in the Florida State job. Norvell has his program ranked in the top 20, and set to face off for the second time in two weeks against Cincinnati – this time in the AAC title game.
Another name we’ve heard that could be in the mix is Eli Drinkwitz. A well respected offensive mind and leader, the main concern with Drink is that he’s only been a head coach one season. While Drink has gone 11-1 with the opportunity and has Appalachian State ranked in the top 20 heading into their tilt with Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday in the Sun Belt title game, only having a year under his belt leaves many to believe that the success he is having is built off of a roster he inherited from Scott Satterfield; and he too would not be available until after this weekend’s conference championship game.
Could Luke Fickell be swayed to leave Cincinnati for this opportunity? Fickell appears quite happy where he is, and like Campbell is expected to have other, potentially “better” opportunities in the future. With that said, years ago Luke Fickell left a party FootballScoop was hosting to go Hog hunting (with his bare hands and knife). Read into that what you will…
All of this remains to be seen; but this list, if Yurachek can land one of them, has to be appealing to their base.
Yurachek tweeted this on Monday morning, seemingly confirming reports that he’s flying around to meet with candidates.
— Hunter Yurachek (@HunterYurachek) December 2, 2019
As the smoke begins to clear we’ll keep you posted. As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.