Reports across local and national media is that Arkansas has found their next coach in Chad Morris. Not long after the hiring of Hunter Yurachek, things were put in motion to bring in Morris from SMU where he was 14-22 as a head coach.
Hearing that Arkansas is likely wrapping up its coaching search shortly. SMU's Chad Morris is a leading candidate to replace Bret Bielema with the Hogs. Morris is 14-22 in three years with the Mustangs but excelled as Clemson's offensive coordinator and... https://t.co/YOBjzR9BnX— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) December 5, 2017
The report from Football Scoop is that Morris wants to bring in Brent Venables, Clemson’s DC and close friend, to his staff. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen but it would be a huge coup for the Hogs if it happens.
Morris has improved his record as a head coach each of his three seasons at SMU. His first year was 2-10 but was pulling the program up from an abysmal low. In 2014, the year before Morris’ hiring, they went 1-11 and opened that year with losses by 45 points, 37 points, 52 points, and 56 points. So Morris was dealing with a mess of a program. This past season they wen’t 7-5 in a tough AAC West division that has Houston, Memphis, and Navy, and they are going bowling for the first time since 2012.
Before his time at SMU, Morris was a highly sought after offensive Coordiator at Clemson. At Clemson he coached players like Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins. He was also responsible for recruiting Deshaun Watson, Shaq Lawson, Jordan Leggett, and Ben Boulware to the Tigers.
He started his career as a head coach in the High School ranks in Texas. In 16 seasons with five different schools he amassed a record of 169-38. His final two years he coached at Lake Travis HS in 2008 and 2009, both seasons were 16-0, state championship seasons.
The positives for Morris are his recruiting ties to Texas, which is hugely important to a program like Arkansas, as well as his high powered offensive philosophy. The Mustangs finished this season 8th in the country in Offensive S/P+.
The defense, and lack of experience at a Power 5 school are the biggest negatives. The Mustangs defense faced some high powered offenses but were 121st in Defensive S/P+. The poor defense explains why Morris wants to make such a big splash with his DC hire. His four seasons at Clemson were all 10 win season but is the only experience he has at a Power 5 school.
So will the move pan out? Time will tell. It’s not the splashy hire some were hoping for, but Morris is widely believed to one of the top up and coming young coaches. It’s impossible to say how successful he will be at Arkansas, so all we can do is sit back and watch.