Several reports this morning out of Florida indicate Arkansas' Associate Head Coach/Linebackers Coach Randy Shannon is leaving Fayetteville for the Gators, where he'll be Linebackers Coach and Recruiting Coordinator.
Shannon was part of the dramatic renewal of Arkansas' defense in 2014, as the linebackers became a team strength. Martrell Spaight was not on anyone's radar heading into the season but became All-SEC 1st Team at linebacker.
Shannon's move raises some interesting questions for Arkansas, first of which is what the Hogs will do about South Florida recruiting. The Razorbacks have made it a priority since Bret Bielema took the job two years ago, but with Shannon's departure and last season's loss of Charlie Partridge, those connections to the region have now gone. Of course, Bielema could look for a replacement with similar ties.
The Hogs already have a commitment from linebacker Derrick Graham and are hoping to have a big visit weekend next month with several recruits from South Florida. We'll have to wait to see how all of that pans out without Shannon.
Several people will also likely note that Shannon would be leaving for the same type of position he holds at Arkansas, not a promotion, which is something Bielema has stated since his first day on the job he wants to avoid - and came to Arkansas specifically for that reason. We don't know yet how much Shannon would earn in Gainesville, and the fact that he would have to do much less traveling may play a part in his decision to leave, but it does raise the issue of what Arkansas will devote to its assistant coach salary pool. We reported earlier in December that Arkansas is competitive nationally (20th) in how much they pay their assistants, but just 9th in the SEC and the discrepancy seems to be growing.
Auburn is now spending significantly more with the hiring of Will Muschamp and Texas A&M could be doing the same if they lure John Chavis from LSU. This is not going to slow down anytime soon and it should be remembered that Arkansas' highest paid assistant, Jim Chaney, is just the 46th highest paid assistant in that database. Particularly, Defensive Coordinator Robb Smith's phenomenal season should come along with a hefty raise, especially considering what Auburn and A&M are looking to spend on that position. Arkansas is expected to increase salaries to assistants but we don't yet know by how much. It will be an interesting story to follow.
Intersting to note: Shannon's Arkansas contract has a $100,000 buyout that runs through today. It drops to $50,000 tomorrow.— Robbie Neiswanger (@NWARobbie) December 31, 2014