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Arkansas' Next Head Coach Tracker - 10.15.2012

Taking a look at the coaches who might be on Arkansas' radar.

Ronald Martinez - Getty Images

Remember, this isn't just a list of everybody who might be a good fit for Arkansas, it's more a list of people who are mentioned either by folks in the media or frequently seen names on the message boards. There are several other coaches not seen here who may be getting looked at but we haven't heard much about them.

As always, 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.: Is it possible the Razorbacks are turning a corner? Gut Feeling: 0% Yeah, still not happening.
  • Paul Petrino: The offense is starting to look like what we expected to look, but running game still needs improving. Gut Feeling: 0% We might bump up the gut feeling if Arkansas does well in the last three November games, but it still feels like this isn't going to work out.


  • Charlie Strong, Louisville: Won at Pitt. Now 6-0. Gut: 25%. Strong has been mentioned as the guy who makes the most sense for so long now that it feels like people are moving on. Also been chatter out of Louisville that people don't see him leaving. Of course, everybody says that.
  • James Franklin, Vanderbilt: Lost at home to Florida. Gut: 10%. Commodores have a long way still to go to keep up with preseason hype.
  • Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: Destroyed by Texas Tech. Gut: 3% It will be interesting to see how the Mountaineers respond to their loss. Speaking of which, guess we have to add a name I really didn't want to add...
  • Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech: Destroyed West Virginia. Gut: 4% If Arkansas is having a coaching search, Tommy has to be brought up. Pretty sure it's a law by now. I've always felt like others will have to turn Arkansas down if Jeff Long gets to the point he wants to reach out to him.
  • Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech: Lost a heartbreaker to A&M. 5-1 on the year. Gut: 7% If LaTech rebounds from the loss, Dykes' name will still be in the rotation.
  • Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky: Won at Troy. 5-1 for the year. Gut: 5% Remarkably, the Hilltoppers have only played two home games so far this season. They could feasibly win 10 games this year.
  • Steve Sarkisian, Washington: Lost to USC but covered the spread. Gut: 2% Made it through the toughest stretch of their schedule 1-2. Could build momentum with a much easier second half of the season.
  • Gus Malzahn, Arkansas State: Defeated South Alabama by a touchdown. 4-3 on the season. Gut: 7% 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 Baylor 49-21. 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 Buffalo. 6-1 on the year. Gut: 5% After winning tight games early this season, they're starting to dominate in conference play.
  • Art Briles, Baylor: Lost to TCU. Gut: 5% Honestly, I don't understand the appeal. But he still gets mentioned a lot among Arkansas fans.
  • Garrick McGee, UAB: Lost to Houston 39-17. 1-5 on the year. Gut: 2% McGee probably had a better chance in April. Hard to see him getting the keys to the Arkansas program coming off a dreadful season in Birmingham.
  • Mark Hudspeth, Lousiana-Lafayette: Play North Texas on Tuesday night. Hog fans will get to see them perform on ESPN2. 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.
  • Butch Jones, Cincinnati: Defeated Fordham, 5-0 on the year. Gut: 4% Cincy is one of three undefeated Big East teams. They'll have a chance to prove their mettle against fellow undefeateds Rutgers and Louisville. Whichever coach takes their Big East team to a BCS bowl will be a hot commodity.
  • Mario Cristobal, Florida International: Lost to Middle Tennessee State. Gut: 0% We're dropping him down to 0% after a 1-6 start. And it's not like FIU has been playing great teams either.
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson: Coming off a bye week. 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.
  • Chris Peterson, Boise State: Defeated Fresno State 20-10. Gut: 0.1% If he showed the slightest bit of interest in leaving, I'd bump it the percentage up, but not feeling it.


  • 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: Defeated New England 24-23. Gut: 0.1%: May be winning enough to keep his job in Seattle.
  • Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama: Defeated Missouri. 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. One of the problems I think with hiring a coordinator is it seems less likely they'd look at a job like Arkansas as a career job. 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: Demolished by Oklahoma. Gut: 1% Time to change the conversation on Diaz. Texas' defense has been horrendous. The way it's going in Austin, Diaz won't be taking a new job this off-season unless he's fired.
  • Butch Davis, Consultant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Former head coach at, among others, North Carolina and Miami: 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. Gut: 12%
  • Jim Leavitt, Linebackers Coach, San Francisco 49ers: Lost to the Giants. 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.