Skip to main content

How Chandler Morris talked Chad back into coaching

If the relationship between Chad and Chandler Morris were an animal, it'd definitely be an octopus -- tentacles everywhere.

The two weren't just father and son, but they were coach and recruit, as Chandler committed to Chad's Arkansas program last June. That right there is fascinating because, had Chad gotten a third year to call the Hogs, he would've been firmly in hot seat territory and relied on true freshman Chandler to save he and his staff's jobs. Can you imagine if Arkansas had retained Chad for another year, Chandler signed, and then Arkansas made a coaching change after Chandler's freshman year?

Still, that was a risk worth taking because Chandler's commitment to Arkansas wasn't just a chance for Son to play for Dad, but an opportunity for the Morris family to live in under one roof -- or, in the same city -- again for the first time since Chad took the Arkansas job in December of 2017. Remember, when Chad took the Arkansas job, Chad and the family's oldest daughter, Mackenzie, a college student at the time, went to Fayetteville, while Paula and Chandler remained behind in Dallas as Chandler finished his career at prestigious Highland Park High School.

Instead, Arkansas fired Chad on Nov. 10, and Chandler had to deal with his father publicly losing his job, the prospect of not playing for and living in proximity to his father for the first time since his sophomore year of high school, and re-opening his recruitment with a month until the early signing period -- all while trying to quarterback Highland Park to a fourth straight Class 5A Division I state championship.

As Chad returned to Dallas after his firing, Chandler also had to play psychologist for his confidence-shaken father. As Tom VanHaaren details for ESPN:

Yet Chandler saw his father allow doubt to creep in. Maybe the analysts were accurate. Maybe his firing was a sign he should step away from coaching, from the game that had given him so much.

"I told him I didn't know if I was going to get back into coaching," Chad said.

That's when Chad got some advice -- from the person whom he had taught everything.

"(Chandler's) the one that brought the wisdom to me and said, 'Dad the happiest you've ever been is coaching football,'" Chad said. "He said, 'You've told us our whole lives when things get tough, you get back up and don't flinch. You need to pick yourself back up and let's not flinch.' He was right, and that brought a lot of perspective back to it."

As Chad and Chandler both became free agents, the dynamic of their relationship shifted. Highland Park's playoff run ended in the regional semifinals, and the next day the pair were at the Iron Bowl as Gus Malzahn began recruiting both father and son.

Chad was hired as Auburn's offensive coordinator on Dec. 10, which meant he was once again a dad helping his uncommitted son navigate the complicated recruiting process and a coach who could really used the services of a 4-star quarterback whose diapers he used to change.

This time around, the Morrises had a different perspective on the risks of Chandler playing for Chad -- What if the staff gets fired? What if Chad gets a head coaching offer? What if Chandler isn't good enough to start?

"To be honest with you, just as I went through all that the last few months, I could see how if it didn't go well it could've gotten really difficult for him and us as a family," Chad said. "When all this happened, it was kind of an opportunity for us to step back and say maybe it wasn't meant for me to coach you."

On Jan. 2, Chandler committed to Oklahoma at the Under Armour All-American game, with Chad on stage as a regular dad.

Read the full story here.

Tags
terms: