Who will be the next head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks? That’s become the hot topic of the Natural State. John L. Smith has become a pariah within the state, and a punch line outside of Arkansas, due to his oddball antics and poor coaching. We know he won’t be back and clearly is in over his head.
Arkansas is nowhere near on the same level as the Alabamas and LSUs of the college football world, but they would like to be. Wouldn’t everyone? In fact, there really is no reason the Razorbacks should not compete for SEC Championships. The fan base is there, the facilities are there (and they are getting better) and the desire to have a great team is there.
The main ingredient, of course, to competing for and winning championships is a top-notch head coach. And that is what AD Jeff Long will be cutting his teeth over the next few months.
So who will be leading Arkansas on the field next season?
We can start by saying who it won’t be. Some have thrown out names like Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher and Pete Carroll. Gruden is a pip-dream. Cowher and Carroll? Forget about it.
However, there are a handful of high profile, qualified coaches that would fit the bill for Arkansas. The first three on this list are native Arkansans who would really understand the job.
- Charlie Strong, HC Louisville – Strong has shown that he can coach and recruit and is a defensive minded guy that could help the Hogs porous defense immediately. Strong is from Batesville, Arkansas, and attended the University of Central Arkansas. He’s been in and around the SEC for several years with Florida and South Carolina. He could be ideal.
- Gus Malzahn, HC Arkansas State – Gus has a dynamic offense, and he is widely considered one of the best play callers in the game. His offense broke NCAA records at Tulsa, and it helped Auburn win its’ first national championship in over 50 years. Malzahn is in his first year as a HC, so he has some experience. Gus is from Ft. Smith, Arkansas, and attended Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.
- Butch Davis, advisor Tampa Bay Bucs – Butch got his first head coaching job with the Miami Hurricanes in 1995, after serving as the Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator in 1993 and 1994. Miami had slipped into mediocrity and Davis brought the team back to national prominence. He has a great defensive mind and is known to be an outstanding recruiter. The NCAA recently exonerated Davis of any wrongdoing during his tenure as head coach at North Carolina. Butch is from Springdale, Arkansas, and attended the University of Arkansas.
- Kirby Smart, DC Alabama – Smarts’ defenses have been stellar while at Bama. His 3-4 scheme has produced two national championships in three years and is considered the best defense in all of college football. Smart won the Broyles Award in 2009 as the best assistant coach in the nation. Kirby is from Montgomery, Alabama, and attended the University of Georgia.
- Dana Holgorsen, HC West Virginia – Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, and he helped build up their dynamic passing attack before leaving for West Virginia. He was also on staff at Texas Tech from 2000-07. His play-calling has been outstanding, and he has turned out to be a solid head coach and recruiter. Dana is from Davenport, Iowa, and attended Iowa Wesleyan.
- Garrick McGee, HC UAB – McGee is in his first year as a head coach at UAB. Garrick was Arkansas’ OC from 2010-2011 when the Hogs won 21 games. There is some concern with bringing McGee back to Arkansas because he may want to retain a number of coaches on the current Razorbacks staff. McGee is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and attended OU.
Long better make the right hire, or the Hog faithful will start screaming for his job next.