Posted by Adam Butler on November 28, 2012
While some anxious Hogs fans are starting to think it’s past time for Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long to hire the next Arkansas football coach and end the longest April Fools Joke in history, we thought we would use the national pastime to examine the potential candidates.
In recent years, the term “home run hire” has made its way into the College Football lexicon. But, as we have discussed often in this space, today’s Home Run Hire is tomorrow’s fly ball to the warning track.
Nevertheless. Long probably won’t make a hire until next week, so while he swings for the fences, let’s round the bases with the candidates:
The Home Runs:
These coaches aren’t heading to Fayetteville for an awkward Hog Call-filled press conference barring some serious cash being spent and plenty of uncharacteristically good Hog luck swinging Long’s way. There’s no shame in that admission.
As we have discussed before, “Home Run Hires” are College Football’s Ivory Billed Woodpecker. However, Bobby Petrino proved in 2008 that you can never say never. That’s why these improbable names are on our list.
- Chris Petersen, Boise State–Considering fit, Peterson might be a Grand Slam. Unfortunately, he has shown no desire to leave Idaho.
- Gary Patterson, TCU–With a proven track record of doing more with less and deep recruiting roots in Texas, GP would fit a defense-starved Arkansas program like a glove.
- Jon Gruden, Monday Night Football–Chuckie likes to be admired, but is more likely to be the next John Madden than the next Nick Saban.
- Mike Gundy, Oklahoma St.–He’s a man, he’s 40+ and he has things rolling at his alma mater. Why would he leave? He probably won’t, but if he does it will be because he and OSU AD Mike Holder don’t see eye to eye.
- Bob Stoops, Oklahoma–Like Gundy, he’s entrenched in The Sooner State. He’s only on this list because I have heard enough from our neighbors to the treeless West to suggest that familiarity has bred some contempt for Stoops.
- Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks–See Petrino, 2008. He has already allegedly found his young, blonde co-ed and Adderrall pills are his Mike Vick Pits.
- Bill Cowher, CBS–His batteries are recharged (presumably), Arkansas is throwing around big money, he and Long have a Pittsburgh connection and he would no longer have to listen to Shannon Sharpe on weekends.
The Stand-Up Triple:
Some fans will groan immediately if he is hired, but then he will win the press conference, and more importantly have a chance to end up being a phenomenal fit for Arkansas in the long term.
- James Franklin, Vanderbilt–Franklin has guided Vandy to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. He has led the ‘Dores to their first 8-win season since 1982. He is young and dynamic and is known as a rainmaker in recruiting. His current recruiting class is ranked in the Top 20 in America–AT VANDY. He now has valuable SEC head coaching experience and has shown he can win with lesser talent (while upgrading the roster on the recruiting trail). There isn’t much to dislike here. The style-over-substance wing of the Hog fan base will immediately dismiss his VU offenses as boring, but ignore the fact that it may be a matter of necessity at a coach-killing program.
The Ground Rule Doubles:
These hires could go in either direction or no direction at all.
- Butch Jones, Cincinnati–Cincy has been a breeding ground for quality head coaches, recently, (Mark Dantonio, Michigan State & Brian Kelly, Notre Dame) and Jones could be the best of the bunch. He’s young, yet experienced. He is a protegé’ of Arizona (and former West Virginia and Michigan) Head Coach Rich Rodriguez. I don’t know if this is a pro or a con. His apparent lack of regional ties is worrisome.
- Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech–Love him or hate him Tommy T wins everywhere he goes. A Camden, AR, native, Tuberville has long coveted the Arkansas job, but a bad, emotional search committee decision in the late 90s and a long, mostly winning stint at Auburn have kept him from being Head Hog. At 59, does he still have the desire to hit the recruiting trail as hard as he hits his graduate assistants?
- Charlie Strong, Louisville–He’s a Batesville, AR, native and a known commodity as a defensive mind. But, he appears to be set on remaining loyal to a program that finally gave him a shot after he had been passed over many times for lesser coaches. That’s refreshing.
- Steve Sarkisian, Washington–If not for his stellar recruiting rankings, he might be The Former Mississippi Coach’s much more well-spoken, West Coast, Armenian Football Doppelganger.
- Mike MacIntyre, San Jose St.–Arkansas fans will have a full on panic attack if he is hired. Then, they’ll Google him and realize he might be the next Big Thing. Mac led SJSU to a 10-2 2012 season (with a close loss against then #21 Stanford and a bad beat by WAC champ Utah St.) He took over a team that went 2-10 in 2009 and promptly went 1-12 before turning the program around.
Odds are that these hires would not end well.
- Any Jeffy.. I’m looking at you, Butch Davis.
- Butch Davis, (formerly of UNC, Miami, Cleveland Browns)–There was a time in the not-so-distant past that Davis would have been atop this list. He helped rebuild the Miami Hurricane program between long NFL stints. He is a friend of the Tysons, but is no longer a Spring Chicken. His recent decision to hire notorious cheater John Blake at UNC smacked of desperation. Davis was cleared by the NCAA during its 2011-2012 investigation of UNC, but things aren’t trending in the right direction for Butch.
- Kirby Smart, Alabama Defensive Coordinator (in name)-Anybody willing to bet good money (and the future of the Arkansas program) that he’s more of a defensive Paul Petrino than a defensive Bobby Petrino? I wouldn’t, either.
The Incorrectly Called (Upon) Infield Fly Rule
- John L. Smith, Arkansas Red Zone Consultant–He meant well and he tried hard, but he had some bad luck (and an awful year off the field) bad help from his staff and made frequent mind-numbingly bad gameday decisions. We’re glad the JLS era is over in Fayetteville and we are sure he is, too.
The Wind-Blown Wrigley Field Doubles in 15-13 Games
- Sonny Dykes, La. Tech–He may be an offensive guru like Petrino, or he may be an offensive guru like Mike Leach. We aren’t sure if his team fields a defense, though. And, he looks like Honey Boo Boo.
- Art Briles, Baylor–This may not be fair to Briles. He is a dynamic offensive mind and a former Texas High School Coach who some (like former Oklahoma Head Coach Barry Switzer) feel is the best coach in the Big 12. But, until his defense Bears Down, this seems about right.
The Check Swings:
- Any of the Up-and-Coming Sun Belt Coaches. They may be great, but can they hit a SEC curve ball?
- Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois–I would need drugs. All of them.
The Corked Bat Home Run:
- Gus Malzahn, Arkansas State–The Gussiah has been great when he has had freakish talent (Darren McFadden, Cam Newton) or a Sun Belt-type schedule. He has also moved around enough to escape splintering fan bases that eventually expose him as something less than the genuine article.