After five years of the Bret Bielema Experiment, Arkansas is looking to take its program in a decidedly different direction. Instead of looking to beat people with retro philosophies, the Hogs are looking to catch up with the times.
Arkansas has made no secret of its desire for native son Gus Malzahn to come home. Malzahn is set to coach Auburn in the SEC Championship on Saturday, and the belief in Fayetteville is that, should Auburn lose to Georgia, Arkansas still has a great shot at landing Malzahn.
In response to Arkansas’s interest and Auburn’s ongoing 10-2 season — highlighted by dominant wins over No. 1 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama in a 3-week span — sources told FootballScoop that Malzahn’s camp has presented a package to Auburn president Steven Leath to keep him in blue and orange, and it’s our understanding the ask is substantial. It’s hard to imagine Auburn letting Malzahn walk at this point.
Arkansas is running concurrent searches for its next AD and head football coach. Earlier this week we heard rumblings that Arkansas felt Kirby Hocutt was the man for the job; but we have been told Hocutt has turned down the overtures. A person close to Hocutt indicated Hocutt and Long are friends, and Arkansas’s handling of Long turned off Hocutt. Long and Hocutt are both members of the College Football Playoff selection committee, which Hocutt chairs. There is also word within the industry that Hocutt is eyeing a bigger job than another AD position for his next move.
Both searches are being handled by different firms — but sources told FootballScoop that Arkansas, while holding out hope, is preparing for the eventuality Malzahn does not come. In that scenario, we hear the focus of the coaching search is targeting offensive-minded coaches who can effectively recruit Texas. However, it remains to be seen how the timing of an athletic director hire could impact the coaching search.
Clear as mud, right?
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.