I thought that the longer Arkansas waited to pull the trigger on Bobby Petrino, the more likely it was that he would stay coach. Well, Joe Schad broke the news on Twitter that Petrino is out.
The question now is who do the Hogs turn to? Obviously, this is not a primetime to go looking for coaches as spring practice is still going on at many places. Last year, Ohio State and UNC both went with internal candidates after they had to fire their coaches but that was closer to the season starting.
Joe Schad also suggests that Arkansas players are making recommendations:
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Some Arkansas players are asking AD Jeff Long to consider promoting Haynes or Johnson on staff
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) April 11, 2012
In a Press Conference on Tuesday night, a shaken Director of Athletics Jeff Long announced that Taver Johnson would continue as interim coach through the completion of spring practice (April 21st). Long said that he will being a coaching search immediately but didn't know if he would have a new coach in place by 2012 based on who they can attract at this point in the pre-season. Here are some candidates for him to think about....
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Garrick McGee- McGee just got hired on at UAB but prior to that he was the QB coach and then OC at Arkansas under Bobby Petrino. He knows the system and could jump right in and take over the offense. The Coaches by the Numbers site gave UAB a B- for hiring McGee because of some unknowns and how he would handle working with lesser talent. I think he might be a better fit at Arkansas.
Gus Malzahn- I wouldn't expect this to happen but Malzahn was the hot shot coaching candidate after Auburn won the National Championship. He chilled off a bit after some comments from his wife and a lack-luster campaign at Auburn last season. He surprisingly took the Arkansas State job in the off-season. Would he be chomping at the bit to take a plush SEC job like this? Malzahn was an OC for Arkansas under Houston Nutt but that didn't work out so well between the two.
Paul Petrino- I know...I know. It would be really hard to believe that Arkansas would hire another Petrino but remember that it was Paul that was left holding the bag and had to face the Falcons players after Bobby fled town to take the Arkansas job. Petrino has been an effective OC in the past and just like McGee, he could step in and take over where Bobby left off. Long did not rule out Paul Petrino as a candidate in his press conference.
Mark Hudspeth- Hudspeth took over at Lousiana last year and took them to a 9-4 record after they had gone 3-9 the year before. Hudspeth also coached North Alabama for seven years and went 66-21. After Hudspeth left UNA he coached with Dan Mullen at Mississippi State so he is familiar with the SEC.
Manny Diaz- Diaz is currently the DC at Texas and is a coaching prospect on the rise. Prior to Texas he was at Mississippi State (on the staff with Hudspeth) where he helped Dan Mullen makes some light noise in the SEC West. Arkansas will probably go after an offensive guy but defense has been what is holding them back.
Chad Morris- Morris burst onto the scene last year when he took over as OC for Clemson. Prior to coaching for Clemson, Morris was OC at Tulsa.
Skip Holtz- The link here is that Skip's father Lou (you may have heard of him) coached for Arkansas from 1977 to 1983 and went 60-21-2. Skip is currently at USF as head coach where he has been a pedestrian 13-12.
James Franklin- Why not scoop up this guy? He's made some noise after just one year at Vandy. He's a little rough around the edges but he does bring an intensity to the football field.
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