We're now taking the step to categorize coaches that have been officially eliminated, or at least people we hope have been eliminated in Jeff Long's mind. Now that the coaching market is getting flooded with buyers (Boston College and Colorado joined the fray last night), some of the people on this list will likely start taking jobs before too long. No more looking at coaches on the current staff since, for all intents and purposes, Arkansas has no staff at the moment.
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.
COLLEGIATE HEAD COACHES
Gary Patterson, TCU: Defeated Texas. Gut: 10% Example A of how fluid these searches can be. Two weeks ago, he was the big name being floated around. That's all but dissipated now.
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: Lost in overtime to Oklahoma. 7-4 on the year. Gut: 5% To me, the Gundy story has always screamed "raise and extension". It's hard to see why he'd leave his alma mater when he 's brought the program as far as he has. What kind of difficulties is he having with his AD/T Boone that can't be worked out? They're only a year removed from their first BCS appearance. I'd have to know more about those issues, if they're there, before I seriously looked at him.
Chris Petersen, Boise State: Coming off a bye week. Gut: 5% I know 5% isn't high, but it's a big increase from the 0.1% I've had him all year. This just seems too good to be true for me.
Charlie Strong, Louisville: Lost in triple overtime. Gut: 10%. Strongly stated earlier this year when asked about the Arkansas job that he wouldn't leave Louisville, but appears to be one of the top names in Knoxville if Gruden doesn't work out. What happens to Louisville in realignment could play a huge role too.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt: Crushed Wake Forest. 8-4 on the year. Gut: 25%. I don't understand why so many are so opposed to Franklin. He has Vandy in the midst of arguably their best run in program history. Sure, the Commodores haven't beaten a good team, but Vandy normally doesn't even beat bad teams, and they have highly rated recruiting classes coming in. I think he's going to make some program very happy.
Jim Mora, Jr. UCLA: Lost to Stanford. 9-3 on the year. Gut: 10% They play Stanford again for the Pac 12 title on Saturday. If they win, it would be hard to imagine the Pac 12 Rose Bowl coach going to Arkansas.
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: Defeated Iowa State 6-5 on the year. Gut: 1% Finally ended the 5-game losing skid that probably knocked him off most coaching lists.
Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech: Lost to Baylor. Ended year 7-5. Gut: 1% Since becoming a hot name after knocking off #5 at the time West Virginia and #23 at the time TCU, Tech lost four of their last five and needed overtime to beat cellar dweller Kansas. And neither West Virginia nor TCU are still ranked.
Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech: Lost to San Jose State. 9-3 finish. Gut: 7% Not the finish he wanted at all. Also, his regular season is over, meaning he's open game. We didn't think he'd be at the top of the list, but that Arkansas hasn't hired him yet pretty much confirms it.
Bo Pelini, Nebraska: Defeated Iowa. 10-2 and division champs. Gut: 1% Still don't know where this came from. They play Wisconsin Saturday for the Rose Bowl berth. See the Jim Mora theory above.
Steve Sarkisian, Washington: Lost to Washington State. 7-5 finish. Gut: 1% No, really, they lost to Washington State. I know that's a rivalry game, but, come on. You win four games in a row, beat Stanford, beat Oregon State, and lose to Washington State?
Gus Malzahn, Arkansas State: Coming off a bye week. 8-3 on the season. Now in 1st place in the Sun Belt. Gut: 4% I think Evin Demeril pretty much covered this last week. His "let's play the Razorbacks" rhetoric probably ensures he won't be in Fayetteville next year.
Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois: Defeated Eastern Michigan. 11-1 for the year. Gut: 5% They're finally finding themselves in the rankings. They're 12th in the nation in points scored and 15th in points allowed. Not bad. I could see Purdue making a big run for him.
Art Briles, Baylor: Beat Texas Tech. 6-5 on the season. Gut: 5% Scored 52 points on Tech...and won by only a touchdown. He really scares me.
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State: West Virginia. 6-6 for the season. Gut 3% 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.
Mark Hudspeth, Lousiana-Lafayette: Defeated South Alabama. 7-4 on the year. Gut: 1% Not the right year. He's a good coach though.
Butch Jones, Cincinnati: Defeated South Florida, 8-3 on the year. Gut: 1% Rumored to be at top candidate at Kentucky. Is that even an upgrade for him?
Dabo Swinney, Clemson: Lost to South Carolina. Gut: 0.1% Don't see him leaving Clemson for Arkansas.
Jon Gruden, ABC: Making a ton of money talking about a game on TV. Gut: 1% Whether or not he was actually offered the job is now in dispute. If he was, he would've taken it last week most likely.
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks: Lost to Dolphins. 6-5 on the year. Gut: 0.1%: Fighting for a playoff spot. If they make it, doubt Carroll leaves for anywhere.
Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama: Shut out Auburn. Gut: 10% 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.
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: Defeated New Orleans 8-2-1 on the year. 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.
ELIMINATED CANDIDATES/CANDIDATES I'VE RULED OUT
L: Officially notified he will not be the coach next year.
Paul Petrino: Not happening. Probably would have announced already anyway.
Mario Cristobal: Disappointing Season
Manny Diaz: Gave up way too many points this year to be a major head coach candidate right now
Willie Taggart: Team started hot but faded too sharply
Garrick McGee: Had a better chance in April. Can't hire him after 3-9 year. Long probably wants to get rid of as much of the Petrino era as possible anyway.
Doc Harper is the editor of ArkansasExpats.com and is a columnist on CollegeFootballNews.com. You can email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @doc_harper.