One of the most interesting parts of this otherwise dreadful football season has been the collapse of confidence overall. While the sample size may not serve as a perfect cross-section of a state of 3 million, the SB Nation FanPulse Confidence Meter has a lot of your votes. If you’re on this site, I tend to think you’d be among the most passionate Arkansas fans, so while it may not be perfect demographically for the state, it does capture a good segment of fans.
Confidence has plummeted to zero in recent weeks, as expected. Something about losing games you shouldn’t lose does that. But in the wake of Chad Morris’ firing, confidence has risen to 25%, as hopefully we’re seeing the end of the dark times:
A loss to WKU would normally find us at zero, but the dismissal of Chad Morris is almost assuredly the reason for the jump up. It’s amazing to look at this chart as a story of the season. I’ve read so many bad Arkansas sports takes from members of both local and national media, and I think this chart can dispel a lot of those.
We don’t expect too much. The expectations were low. Hell, we were still relatively confident after a narrow victory over Portland State. No, Chad didn’t have to do much this year. He had to beat Portland State, Colorado State, San Jose State, and Western Kentucky. Those were must wins. He won two of those. We were all hopeful that he could steal an SEC game. After narrow losses to A&M and Kentucky, there was reason to hope. We never looked close in another SEC game though. Not even to a terrible Mississippi State team. That won’t cut it.
It’s not too much to expect a second year coach to win non-conference games against cupcakes and to maybe steal a win against a couple of pretty down SEC teams. Chad Morris didn’t deserve more time. So when someone accuses you of being irrational, maybe you are because sports are irrational, but you’re not because of your agreement with firing Chad.
Now, let’s talk about the fun stuff— potential coaches! Here’s how the top 25 broke down, and there are plenty of potential coaches in here:
The obvious targets of Mike Norvell at Memphis and Eliah Drinkwitz at App State are ranked at 14 and 20 respectively. Wouldn’t you love to be there? Elsewhere, perennial Arkansas rejecter Gus Malzahn’s Auburn sits at 13. I don’t want Gus, and also don’t think he’s a realistic candidate, and also don’t think he’s a good coach, but hey, he’s ranked. Matt Rhule at Baylor is an interesting one. He undertook one of the most difficult rebuilds I’ve ever seen at a school with terrible NCAA violations and sanctions. Would he come to a clean rebuild at Arkansas? I would cut off my left hand for PJ Fleck at Minnesota, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. I’d love to be surprised with him being hired though.
I doubt Arkansas hires a second straight coach from SMU, and I’m not sure Skip Holtz at Louisiana Tech is anything beyond a lateral move from Chad. Maybe that’s a hot take. Brian Harsin from Boise would be interesting simply because of the Arkansas State connection, but he seems like a permanent Northwesterner.
Tom Allen has rescued a dreadful Indiana program from the dregs of the NCAA, but if I think a younger, better candidate like Drinkwitz is inexperienced, I’m certainly not ready for Allen, who has only been the head coach at Indiana. Dave Clawson at Wake Forest has won everywhere he’s been, but I’m not sure if that’s a sexy enough hire. I think Luke Fickell at Cincinnati is an outstanding head coach, but I just don’t see him here. He seems like a Big 10 guy. Kyle Wittingham at Utah has been there for 15 years. I doubt he’s going to leave.
Everyone else on that list is a blue blood, or a better program right now and historically.
That leaves us with some interesting options though. If I were to make my dream list, it would look like:
- PJ Fleck
- Mike Norvell
- Eliah Drinkwitz
- Matt Campbell
- Matt Rhule
A realistic list probably looks more like:
- Mike Norvell
- Eliah Drinkwitz
- Skip Holtz
- Sonny Dykes
- Mike Leach
If Vegas or Hogville picked the coach, it would probably look like this:
- Bobby Petrino
- Hugh Freeze
- Art Briles
- Charles Manson
- Jack the Ripper
We’ll see. Manson could certainly inspire a group of followers at least. Take a look at Adam Ford’s article for a more in depth breakdown of some of these coaching options. Until then, keep coming here for all your silly season needs.
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