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Arkansas' Next Head Coach Tracker - 12.3.2012 - Is This The End?

Taking our weekly look at what's going on with the coaches frequently mentioned in connection with the Arkansas job.


I really hope this is the last time we have to do the tracker. Things will have gone wrong if we do it again. You can panic next week if you see this here. As if you wouldn't have started panicking by then anyway.

As of now, we're squarely within the window of time in which most people expect a coach to be named, so the news could drop by the time you're done reading this. Rumors were flying throughout last week. We even had a crazy day when it seemed like Les Miles was in the picture. Everybody freaked out. Personally, I don't believe Miles had a formal offer but I do believe there were conversations. How far they went is anybody's guess.

We have seen reports that Arkansas offered various coaches something around $5 million per year before being turned down. Those are all unconfirmed. Miles said that wasn't an accurate number. However, I'm also pretty sure that regardless of who is hired and when, Jeff Long will say that was the only coach he offered the job to. He'll never admit he was turned down. That's standard operating procedure for coaching searches.

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.


  • Gary Patterson, TCU: Lost to Oklahoma. 7-5 on the year. Gut: 15% The smoke has dissipated but it's still there. It's also rumored he's holding out for the Texas job, especially if Mack Brown is politely asked to vacate Austin this year. We'll see.
  • Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: Lost to Baylor. 7-5 on the year. Gut: 25% I've always believed this reeked of a coach looking to get a raise/extension. That could be the case, but a lot of people seem convinced he's heading out of Stillwater, but they're not sure where he's going yet. There's been a lot of chatter about him over the last few days in connection with both Arkansas and Tennessee. Is there a bidding war in the future? Of the three coaches most often discussed with Arkansas (Patterson, Gundy, and Petersen), Gundy appears most likely to leave his current school.
  • Chris Petersen, Boise State: Defeated Nevada. Finished 10-2. Gut: 15% What is the deal here? There was a lot of Petersen rumors swirling the weekend of the LSU game. Boise State had a bye that week. Then the smoke died down the next week as Boise had a game against Nevada. Sunday after the game, rumors heated up again. A twitter account supposedly from the Boise quarterback published a farewell tweet to Petersen last night. It was quickly agreed the account was fake, but if so, it's the lamest fake account I've ever seen. A new Hog blog has been claiming for weeks that Petersen will be announced in Fayetteville on Tuesday. They've been the only ones reporting that, so what happens here will basically be the litmus test for them as a reputable site. We'll see what happens.
  • Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech: AD shafted team out of a bowl game. 9-3 finish. Gut: 10% How could he trust his AD after this fiasco? Dykes would be a solid backup plan if Jeff Long isn't able to get his A-list guys.
  • Charlie Strong, Louisville: Big East champs. Heading to the Sugar Bowl. Gut: 5%. A report surfaced stating that Strong had interviewed with Auburn, but Strong quickly squashed the rumor, saying he'd done nothing but speak to them on the phone. Strong has also been a rumored candidate at Tennessee, but there has been nothing connecting him to Arkansas.
  • Jim Mora, Jr. UCLA: Lost to Stanford again. 9-4 on the year. Gut: 7% This would be a surprise. He's young and has UCLA heading in the right direction very quickly. Has made UCLA a hotter program than USC at the moment. Hard to see him leaving.
  • Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: Defeated Kansas 7-5 on the year. Gut: 1% That disastrous 5-game losing streak really dropped his stock.
  • 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. And he caught a lot of national heat for "slapping" the headset off his assistant. That didn't help things.
  • Bo Pelini, Nebraska: Blown out by Wisconsin. 10-3 and division champs. Gut: 5% It can't be good for a guy known for his defense to have 70 hung on him in a conference title game.
  • 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: Won Sun Belt title. 9-3 on the season. Now in 1st place in the Sun Belt. Gut: 8% If reports are true that Long is striking out (I don't completely buy that, by the way) you have to wonder how far down the list he gets before calling Gus.
  • Art Briles, Baylor: Beat Oklahoma State. 7-5 on the season. Gut: 10% Seven wins without RG3 is impressive. Just make sure he gets a quality defensive coordinator.
  • Paul Rhoads, Iowa State: 6-6 for the season. Gut 2% 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: 8-4 on the year. Gut: 1% Not the right year. He's a good coach though.
  • Butch Jones, Cincinnati: Defeated South Florida, 9-3 on the year. Gut: 3% Rumored for a few jobs, but not hearing much of a connection to Arkansas.
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson: Lost to South Carolina. Gut: 0.1% Don't see him leaving Clemson for Arkansas.

  • Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama: Won classic SECCG. 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • James Franklin: Agreed to an extension at Vanderbilt
  • Dave Doeren: Hired at NC State
  • Jon Gruden: We can all give up on this now, right?
  • Pete Carroll: Looks like he won't be fired this year, as if there was a prayer he'd come anyway.
  • Jim Leavitt: Would be a shocker.
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    Doc Harper is the editor of and is a columnist on You can email him at and follow him on Twitter @doc_harper.