Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Franklin commits to Vandy
Idaho set to name Paul Petrino coach
Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin watches in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Tennessee on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 41-18. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas lost a potential head coaching candidate in Vanderbilt’s James Franklin on Sunday, just as a prominent Razorbacks’ assistant coach landed his first head coaching gig.
Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino is set to be introduced as Idaho’s head coach today.
The website coachingsearch.com broke the news on Petrino on Sunday, and TV station KLEW of Lewiston, Idaho, posted a picture of Petrino being greeted by Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear at the Pullman-Moscow Airport later in the day.
Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy, talking on a late Sunday teleconference to discuss the Cowboys’ bid to the Jan. 1 Heart of Dallas Bowl against Purdue, declined to discuss whether he was involved in any coaching searches.
“I would prefer to not talk about anything other than Oklahoma State and the bowl game,” Gundy said. “I would never talk about any other jobs or any confirmation of anything that’s gone on.”
Reports have linked Gundy to openings at Arkansas and Tennessee, and some media outlets speculated he interviewed with Tennessee officials on Sunday.
When asked how he spent the day, Gundy replied, “I was around the house.”
Franklin, who is 14-11 in two seasons at Vanderbilt and thought to be on Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long’s list, reached agreement on a contract extension, along with raises for his assistant coaches and a commitment for further upgrades to Vanderbilt’s football facilities.
In Vanderbilt’s news conference announcing the new contract, in which terms were not disclosed, Franklin said: “This is about continuing to make progress, continuing to take steps in the right direction, so we can build a program for the long haul that people can be very, very proud of.”
Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor for Athletics David Williams said “everybody in America” had been calling to express interest in Franklin, though the coach said “I’ve had no contact with any other schools, administrators or anything like that.”
The Website outkickthecoverage.com, citing anonymous sources, said all three SEC schools with remaining openings - with Auburn and Tennessee joining Arkansas - had gauged Franklin’s interest.
Petrino, 45, pulled down his first head coaching stint after interviewing at least twice for top jobs in recent years while serving as offensive coordinator at Arkansas and Illinois.
Petrino is scheduled to be introduced in a news conference in Moscow, Idaho, at 3:30 p.m. today, according to the Idaho Statesman.
Petrino, originally from Helena, Mont., previously worked at Idaho from 1992-1994 under John L. Smith as a receivers, running backs and special teams coach. That was his first job outside of working for his father at Carroll College in Helena from 1990-1991.
Petrino, whose Arkansas offense ranked No. 52 in the nation with 420.2 yards per game this season, was chosen by Spear to replace Robb Akey, who won three games in the last two years. The other finalists were Idaho interim Coach Jason Gesser, Central Washington Coach Blaine Bennett, San Jose State offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren and Wyoming defensive coordinator Chris Tormey, who had been the head coach at Idaho from 1995-99.
The Vandals, coming off a 1-11 season, are entering a challenging phase. They will start as an independent in Football Bowl Subdivision play next season with the Western Athletic Conference disbanding in football. Idaho ranks No. 112 in total offense at just 315 yards per game and 120th in scoring (15.8 points per game).
Sports, Pages 13 on 12/03/2012