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Arkansas' Next Head Coach Tracker - 10.1.12

Taking a look at how the guys who might be on Jeff Long's list are doing.

Chris Graythen - Getty Images

Of course, as with most coaching searches, we have no idea who's actually on Jeff Long's list and the next coach could very well be someone completely out of left field.


  • L.: Deposited another check. Gut Feeling: 0% Only still here because Jeff Long won't publicly say he has no shot to come back.
  • Paul Petrino: Did you know a team can gain 515 yards of offense, keep the ball for 32 minutes, and only score 10 points? It's true! Gut Feeling: 0% It's been real.


  • James Franklin, Vanderbilt: Off this week after being blown out by Georgia. Gut: 15%. No coach has fallen faster on this tracker. This week's game against Missouri is huge for both schools.
  • Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: Scored 70 points on Baylor. Won by one touchdown. Gut: 2% Holgorsen is the type of coach in the type of program that isn't going to leave for a program that's not bowl eligible.
  • Charlie Strong, Louisville: Beat Southern Miss, now at 5-0. Gut: 40%. If Louisville wins the Big East and makes a BCS bowl, he will be a fan favorite among candidates considered "gettable".
  • Chris Peterson, Boise State: Defeated New Mexico by 3 points. Gut: 0.1% If he showed the slightest bit of interest in leaving, I'd bump it the percentage up, but not feeling it.
  • Steve Sarkisian, Washington: Upset Stanford and became a hot team all of a sudden. Gut: 3% Think he laughs when he thinks of Nick Holt?
  • Gus Malzahn, Arkansas State: Lost to Western Kentucky. Gut: 8% He'll always be mentioned as a candidate for the Razorbacks until he either retires, career goes South, or actually becomes the head coach. He's still a divisive figure in the state and it's hard to see him at the top of Long's list, but he could be on it toward the bottom.
  • Gary Patterson, TCU: Defeated SMU by 8 points. Gut: 1% Among the guys who almost definitely aren't leaving for Arkansas, Patterson's name gets popped up the most. Someone explain why he would leave? If you don't leave a program when they're in the MWC, why would you leave a year into their Big 12 era?
  • Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois: Defeated Central Michigan 55-24. Gut: 2% Best performance of the year for Northern Illinois. Still not likely to draw too much interest from Arkansas.
  • Art Briles, Baylor: Scored 63 points against West Virginia. Lost. Gut: 5% If you can't win by scoring 63 points, is it really something Arkansas should be interested in?
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson: Defeated Boston College. Gut: 0.1% Why? Why would he leave Clemson? Whenever I see this name pop up on the message boards, it just doesn't make any sense to me. They won the ACC last year and has them back around the top 10 again. I have a hard time seeing him leave for Arkansas
  • Garrick McGee, UAB: Lost to Tulsa. Gut: 4% Put up a fight against Tulsa, but McGee's still hunting for his first win with the Blazers.
  • Mark Hudspeth, Lousiana-Lafayette: Blew out FIU, now 3-1 for the year. Gut: 10% Most fans don't know much about him so here's a summary: In eight seasons as a head coach at North Alabama and ULL, he's had six winning seasons, winning 10+ games five times. Last season, his first at ULL, he took the Ragin' Cajuns to their first bowl game in 41 years and posted a 9-4 overall record. He's from Mississippi, has spent 3 total years on the UCA staff in the 90s, and spent two years on Dan Mullen's staff at Mississippi State between his gigs at North Alabama and ULL. His overall coaching record is 77-26. Honestly, that's a pretty sharp resume. Doubt he'll excite many Razorback fans, but that's a sharp resume.
  • Mario Cristobal, Florida International: Lost to ULL. Gut: 1% This name pops up on a lot of other coaching lists, but with a 1-4 start, it's not likely to stay there. And it's not like FIU has been playing cupcake games either.
  • Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky: Defeated Arkansas State, 4-1 for the year. Gut: 5% It should be noted that the Sun Belt has an impressive set of upcoming coaches at the moment. SEC school may have to start hiring them or else the Sun Belt may start beating them more regularly. Already happened twice this year.


  • Jon Gruden, ABC: Getting paid a crap-ton of money to watch and talk about an NFL game tonight.Gut: 0.1% This probably had a better chance in April than it does right now. Arkansas was appealing in April. Why he'd turn down his TV gig to rebuild this ship is beyond me.
  • Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks: Lost to Rams. Gut: 2%: What if the "win" over the Packers ends up pushing Seattle to the point where Carroll keeps his job? Maybe it makes them a playoff team and they go on a run in January? It'll be interesting to see that play out.
  • Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama: Ole Miss scored enough to cover the spread. Gut: 15% He very well could take a head coaching job next year. The question is whether or not Long will go for a coordinator without head coaching experience. I'd feel better about Smart if Saban's coaching tree produced a lot of winners, but it hasn't so far.
  • Manny Diaz, Defensive Coordinator, Texas: Defeated Oklahoma State but gave up a lot of points. Gut: 8% He's definitely an up-and-comer who has head coach written all over day. Diaz is very young, and only has 3 years of coordinating on a BCS level. Is he too young for Long?
  • Butch Davis, Consultant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Former head coach at, among others, North Carolina and Miami: Was cleared of any wrongdoing through his phone records in the scandals at North Carolina. Gut: 12% He was cleared of any wrongdoing in the agents scandal, but what about the academic scandals that are still being investigated? He's not out of the woods yet.
  • Jim Leavitt, Linebackers Coach, San Francisco 49ers: Shut out the Jets. Gut: 1%Was fired from South Florida for striking a player at halftime then lying about it. I'm sure that's exactly what Long is looking for in his next coach. He did basically build the South Florida program, however.
  • Bear Bryant: Former Head Coach: Kentucky, Texas A&M, Alabama: Winning national titles in heaven.Gut: 1% Is an Arkansas native, but reportedly still dead. Not sure Arkansas can afford the buyout.


Doc Harper is the editor of and is a regular contributor You can email him at and follow him on Twitter@doc_harper.