Sources tell FootballScoop that Arkansas has met with Memphis head coach Mike Norvell. At this time Norvell is said to be more interested in the opening at Florida State than Arkansas; however we wouldn’t rule Norvell out of this one just yet. Norvell, at just 38 years old, is 35-15 at Memphis and has the Tigers at 9-1 and ranked No. 17 in the country, in position for a prestigious New Year’s Six bowl berth with three more wins to close the regular season. That success, plus a buyout at around $500,000, has the former Central Arkansas as one of the most coveted coaching targets this winter.
Additionally, sources said a Gus Malzahn reunion is not expected to happen. The famed former ultra-successful Arkansas high school coach and former Hogs offensive coordinator was heavily pursued by Arkansas in 2017, but he elected to remain at Auburn with a 7-year, $49 million contract. Word within the coaching profession is that Malzahn is not interested in using Arkansas as an exit ramp out of Auburn in what can fairly be described as a tenuous situation on the Plains.
The whisper within the profession is that Arkansas has met with another candidate already and is expected to meet with others in the coming week. It will be interesting to see if the Hogs make a trip to visit with Hugh Freeze who many coaches believe could step in a right the ship quickly.
Arkansas’ regular season closes Nov. 29 against Missouri, and the school is moving swiftly to have the next head Hog in place quickly after that.
Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek released the following statement Wednesday:
“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.
“In my continued efforts to identify our next head coach, just as I did in our recent men’s basketball search, I will work to maintain confidentiality in the process. I understand that because of the great interest in our search, there will continue to be an abundance of speculation. I appreciate your patience and understanding as I focus on the important task at hand.”
“As you are aware, a couple of weeks ago, I had to make a difficult decision regarding our football program. From a professional standpoint, I am confident that it was the right decision to help our program move forward. I am appreciative of Coach Morris and his dedication to our program and our student-athletes and wish him and his family the very best. I am grateful that Coach Barry Lunney Jr. agreed to assume the role of interim head football coach for the remainder of the regular season. Barry is a Razorback through and through and has helped our program through a similar transition back in 1992 when he was a freshman quarterback.
“I hope you will join with all of us in supporting our football student-athletes in the next few weeks as we complete our 2019 regular season with games at LSU and at home in Little Rock against Missouri, the Friday after Thanksgiving. Let’s help fill War Memorial Stadium to cheer on this team and these players as they compete in the Battle Line Rivalry.”
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.