Put the Rumors to Rest: Jeff Long is Keeping Quiet
The Arkansas Razorbacks’ disappointing football season has finally come to a close. The future of the program is in the balance, and many are waiting to hear who the new coach will be to guide the program forward.
The Razorbacks, however, did finish strongly in the LSU game. If someone said that they would only lose 20-13, I, and many others, would have taken that any day of the week. If it were not for turnovers on the first two possessions and two questionable fourth-down calls, who knows what the outcome could have actually been.
The Southeastern Conference has become so powerful that the pressure to win now is evident everywhere. Right now, four SEC schools have all fired their head coaches and are conducting searches for a new one. These schools are Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee and of course, Arkansas. These additional openings could make it more difficult for Arkansas to get the guy they want.
I believe that Athletic Director Jeff Long has been very calculated and proactive in finding the new head coach. Since he is conducting the search basically on his own, not much information has been revealed about who he has in mind. We can sit here and speculate all day long, but Long is playing his cards close to the chest.
To follow that point, let’s all put the Jon Gruden rumors to rest. For one, why would he be a good fit? Who’s to say he can come to the college level and recruit each year at the level it takes to compete with Alabama?
To follow the recruiting, we all know the SEC prides itself on tough and talented defense. Gruden has denied interest in the job, and so have many people at ESPN. We all need to lose the delusion of Gruden being a good hire for Arkansas.
I don’t feel the “home run” hire that most fans are looking for is available to the Hogs. Maybe Long will strongly consider a coordinator to get his first crack at a head coaching gig.
If you look at many recent coaches who are having success, more than half came straight out of the coordinator position to fulfill head coaching duties. Just to name a few, Chip Kelly of Oregon, Bob Stoops of Oklahoma and even Will Muschamp at Florida. Young, energetic guys are great recruiters who draw in many young kids in high school.
Whoever Arkansas hires, I feel he is walking into a great program. The facilities have been updated to awe recruits, the whole state is supportive of the program and Arkansas is still associated with the SEC, which is always a good job to have. The pressure will be immense for the new guy, but Long has had plenty of time to find a guy who can handle the rigors of leading an SEC program.
Zack Wheeler is a staff writer for The Arkansas Traveler. His column appears every Tuesday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.