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Arkansas' Next Head Coach Tracker - 10.22.2012

Keeping up with the coaches most frequently mentioned as possible candidates for the Arkansas job.

Jamie Squire

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.: Bye week. Felt great. Gut Feeling: 0% Jeff Long still won't say he's not a candidate, but did refer to his salary structure as a retirement strategy. Enjoy your retirement, L.
  • Paul Petrino: Bye week. Hope they didn't lose any offensive momentum. Gut Feeling: 0% We might bump up the gut feeling if Arkansas does well in the last three November games, but it still probably isn't going to work out.


  • Charlie Strong, Louisville: Defeated South Florida by 2 points. Now 7-0. Gut: 20%. Louisville's winning but not blowing anybody out. Anybody else feeling the energy around Strong's name fading? Who knows with these things.
  • James Franklin, Vanderbilt: Defeated Auburn. 3-4 on the year. Gut: 10%. Said before the season Vandy would have to become bowl eligible for him to likely be in the hunt.Still could happen. Commodores have favorable schedule from here on out.
  • Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: Destroyed by Kansas State at home. Gut: 2% Dana Dana, Dana. Not good. I don't mind an offensive-minded coach, but one that completely doesn't seem to care about defense at all?
  • Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech: Won at TCU. Gut: 10% Time to be real about him. His resume is as good as mostly anyone else's on this list. He's been mentioned as a candidate for Arkansas in 1997 and 2007, so why not now? Raiders do have a couple of huge games coming up.
  • Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech: Destroyed Idaho. 6-1 on the year. Gut: 10% No more big time games on their schedule. Should finish 11-1. Never scored less than 44 points this year.
  • Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky: Lost to Louisiana-Monroe in overtime. 5-2 for the year. Gut: 4% Is there an age minimum to this deal? He's a good coach, but for some reason, hard to see him as a good fit at Arkansas to me.
  • Steve Sarkisian, Washington: Lost bad to Arizona. 3-4 on the year. Gut: 2% That was ugly.
  • Gus Malzahn, Arkansas State: Coming off a bye week. 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: Lost to Texas Tech. Gut: 1% Question: after losing to Tubbs, is Patterson's resume really any better than Tuberville's? Only thing I can think is that Patterson's 6 years younger.
  • Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois: Defeated Akron 37-7. 7-1 for the year. Gut: 5% After winning tight games early this season, they're dominating in conference play.
  • Art Briles, Baylor: Lost to Texas. Gut: 5% Honestly, I don't understand the appeal. But he still gets mentioned a lot among Arkansas fans. They've scored 50+ points in two of their three losses.
  • Garrick McGee, UAB: Lost to East Carolina by a touchdown. 1-6 on the year. Gut: 1% McGee probably had a better chance in April. Each loss makes it harder to see him getting the keys to the Arkansas program coming off a dreadful season in Birmingham.
  • Mark Hudspeth, Lousiana-Lafayette: Lost to North Texas 4-2 on the year. Gut: 5% Could be wrong, but Arkansas opens with ULL next year. Seems unlikely Arkansas will hire a coach who opens against his old team. Could happen, but hard to see it.
  • Butch Jones, Cincinnati: Lost to Toledo, 5-1 on the year. Gut: 4% Got caught looking ahead. Never good to lose when you're the favorite.
  • Mario Cristobal, Florida International: Lost to Troy. 1-7 on the year. Gut: 0% We're dropping him down to 0% after a 1-7 start. And it's not like FIU has been playing great teams either.
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson: Defeated Virginia Tech. 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 UNLV. 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: Lost to 49ers. Gut: 0.1%: Lost, but still may be winning enough to keep his job in Seattle.
  • Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama: Defeated Tennessee. 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: Gave up 50 points to Baylor. Gut: 0.1% Hotshot DC has given up 228 points in last five games. 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 does seem to have support, but I still think everyone shouldn't forget about the academic scandal at UNC. Not getting the attention the agent scandal got, but the academic one is still being investigated. Gut: 12%
  • Jim Leavitt, Linebackers Coach, San Francisco 49ers: Defeated Seattle. 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 to You can email him at and follow him on Twitter @doc_harper.