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Pre-Thanksgiving update on Arkansas' search

Before we all take some time to remember all that we are (and should be) thankful for, allow us to provide a brief update on the status of the Arkansas' search for their next head coach.

As a reminder, a week ago Arkansas AD Hunter Yurachek issued the following statement:

“A search for our next head football coach is well underway. As I have shared previously, I firmly believe that we will find a quality leader for our football team. The Razorback Football program has much to offer – including substantial financial support, tremendous facilities, an outstanding academic institution, great history and tradition, competing in the nation’s best conference and a passionate fan base."

FootballScoop spoke with Yurachek and his chief lieutenant (for this search) Jon Fagg at the LSU game this past weekend. We can confirm, as Yurachek publicly said above, this search is well underway.

Before we specifically address any potential candidates, just a quick reminder. Nearly every "candidate" for this job will be working this weekend. It would behoove both sides for word to be kept quiet to avoid distractions across the board until after this weekend's games. With that said...

As we previously reported, Arkansas has gauged the interest of Memphis head coach Mike Norvell already. Don't rule him out of this search just yet; but the Hogs continue to vet & plan to meet with other candidates.

Sources tell FootballScoop Yurachek is seeking to make a "big time hire." "He wants a coach has proven he can win football games; but also win the fanbase over as well." Yurachek, we're told, believes their fans are craving a coach they can rally around and that is an essential quality he is looking for in their next head coach.

To that point, sources tell FootballScoop there is mutual interest between Washington State head coach Mike Leach and Hunter Yurachek; although multiple sources have told FootballScoop that "Leach might wind up getting the offer, but he currently isn't considered Hunter's top target." On the recruiting trail Arkansas usually doesn't beat Alabama, LSU or Texas A&M for the absolute top guys. At both Texas Tech and Washington State Leach had similar odds to overcome but he has still won big at both places.

Yesterday Dan Wolken of USA Today wrote that Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente is a potential target of the Hogs. Fuente won 10 and then nine games at Memphis before being hired away to VT, where he went on to win 10 and then nine games in his first two seasons. This season got off to a rocky start, but Fuente stabilized the ship and then got it into gear. His Hokies have won six of their last seven (with their only loss being 21-20 at Notre Dame). A win over Virginia on Saturday would finish their regular season with nine wins and send the Hokies to Charlotte for the ACC title game. Fuente has the full support of his athletic director Whit Babcock. Hard to see him making the move to Arkansas given the support he has where he is, and given the fact that the path to the ACC Championship game through his Coastal division (i.e. no Clemson) seems far easier than through the SEC West.

Wolken also mentioned Lane Kiffin as a potential candidate. Lane has done very well at FAU. He truly seems content there; but unquestionably is willing to listen to any potentially life changing offers. Is Arkansas the one for him? Eh, he is a "big name" and one many fans would enjoy following; but it remains to be seen if Yurachek believes Lane can win at Arkansas and if Lane believes that would be a wise career move for himself.

Arkansas closes out their season Friday vs. Missouri. Once that game is over, it is full speed ahead to close this search out and to reveal the new head hog. Stay tuned my friends...

As always, for the latest coaching job information head directly to The Scoop.