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Arkansas' Next Head Coach Tracker - 11.12.2012

Our weekly look at what's going on with the coaches frequently mentioned in connection to the Arkansas opening.

Tom Pennington

It's taken six months, but we're finally starting to see some significant smoke regarding on candidate in particular.

That tweet was followed on Friday with a tweet from radio host Bo Mattingly declaring that he'd heard things that make him believe Patterson will be the coach at Arkansas. Patterson made a statement to the media today saying he didn't know where the rumors were coming from, so take it all for what you will. TCU's season doesn't end until December 1st, so if it is Patterson, don't expect a formal announcement until after that day.

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.: See ya. Gut Feeling: 0% Just collecting some much-needed paychecks over the next few weeks.
  • Paul Petrino: Later. Gut Feeling: 0% It's been real.


  • Gary Patterson, TCU: Lost to Kansas State. Gut: 40% I don't know what to think about this. On the one hand, he'd stay because he's been there forever, they love him from what we know, he built TCU to the point they just entered the Big 12, and he's turned down several other jobs over the years. On the other hand, he might leave because he's been there forever, dealt with some significant discipline problems this year, and may just want a fresh start.
  • Charlie Strong, Louisville: Lost to Syracuse. Now 9-1. Gut: 10%. Every indication has been that Strong is not in the mix at Arkansas.
  • James Franklin, Vanderbilt: Defeated Ole Miss. 6-4 on the year. Gut: 20%. Vandy could very well be 8-4 this season. They're already bowl eligible again, a feat that should have Franklin back in the conversation. Franklin fell off the radar when the Commodores got off to a slow start, but he's showing again why he was such a hot name in the summer.
  • Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: Lost to Oklahoma State. Gut: 1% Lost 4 straight after being ranked in the top 5. Amazing how quickly that program's stock has fallen this year.
  • Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech: Defeated Kansas in OT. Gut: 1% If West Virginia wasn't #5 when the Raiders beat them, Tubbs never would have been brought into the discussion. Since beating TCU in OT, Tech lost their next two games and needed overtime to beat a horrible Kansas team. They're not as good as we thought they were. And even though Tuberville's "slap" was grossly over-exaggerated, it's definitely not the type of symbol Jeff Long will find attractive.
  • Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech: Beat Texas State 62-55. 9-1 on the year. Gut: 20% Probably makes the most sense out of anyone other than Charlie Strong Gary Patterson. Dykes is probably more likely to leave and cost less than Strong Patterson, though.
  • Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky: Lost to Florida Atlantic. 6-4 for the year. Gut: 1% He's still a popular name for some jobs despite Hilltoppers decline since September. That decline may have cost him a shot at an Arkansas-level job this year.
  • Steve Sarkisian, Washington: Defeated Utah. 6-4 on the season. Gut: 1% I think he's a good coach but it's hard to argue that he makes much sense at Arkansas. Don't see it happening.
  • Gus Malzahn, Arkansas State: Defeated Louisiana-Monroe. 7-3 on the season. Now in 1st place in the Sun Belt.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.
  • Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois: Off. Play Toledo Wednesday night. 9-1 for the year. Gut: 5% Would easily be ranked if not for a 1 point loss to Iowa in the first week. They're 9th in the nation in points scored and 15th in points allowed. Not bad.
  • Art Briles, Baylor: Lost to Oklahoma. 4-5 on the season. Gut: 5% I really don't want a coach who can score 63 points in a regulation game and lose. But he still gets mentioned frequently.
  • Paul Rhoads, Iowa State: Lost to Texas. 5-5 for the season. Gut 5% I get that he's made Iowa State much better than they were when he took over, but he hasn't impressed me enough to think he should be near the top of Arkansas' list.
  • Garrick McGee, UAB: Defeated Marshall. 3-7 on the year. Gut: 1% Consecutive wins for the Blazers. Played tough all year. Timing has worked out just horribly for McGee. Maybe in the future.
  • Mark Hudspeth, Lousiana-Lafayette: Nearly knocked off Florida at The Swamp. 5-3 on the year. Gut: 1% Not the right year. He's a good coach though.
  • Butch Jones, Cincinnati: Defeated Temple, 7-2 on the year. Gut: 3% Like Hudspeth, he possibly ran out of steam already. May be in play if a few people turn Arkansas down.
  • Mario Cristobal, Florida International: Bye week. 2-8 on the year. Gut: 0% Nope. Already removed him from reasonable consideration.
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson: Defeated Maryland. 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 Petersen, Boise State: Lost to San Diego State. Gut: 0.1% Maybe the Boise fans will get restless after Petersen spoiled them the last few years? Maybe? Wishful thinking?


  • Jon Gruden, ABC: Getting paid a crap-ton of money to watch and talk about an NFL game tonight.Gut: 0.1% Jeff Long's statement on the radio would appear to rule him out, but you never know. Also, Tennessee fans are now drooling over him as much as Arkansas fans have been.
  • Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks: Defeated the Jets. Gut: 0.1%: Fighting for a playoff spot. If they make it, doubt Carroll leaves for anywhere.
  • Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama: Lost to A&M. Gut: 15% Just depends on if Long goes the coordinator route. Probably a better fit at Tennessee now that Dave Hart left Alabama to become the AD in Knoxville.
  • Manny Diaz, Defensive Coordinator, Texas: Longhorns beat Iowa State. Gut: 0% He won't be coming. Gave up way too many points this year.
  • Butch Davis, Consultant, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Former head coach at, among others, North Carolina and Miami: Haven't heard his name much in discussions lately. Gut: 5% It seems like if he was Long's top choice, why don't you go ahead and hire him before the end of the season? May be down the list a bit, if he's even there.
  • Jim Leavitt, Linebackers Coach, San Francisco 49ers: Tied the Rams. Gut: 0.1% 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 columnist on You can email him at and follow him on Twitter @doc_harper.