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.
Assistants still waiting for word from Bielema
University of Arkansas Tim Horton works with the team during Friday afternoons practice at Razorback Stadium.
FAYETTEVILLE New Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema has announced no decisions for his coaching staff after meeting with the eight remaining members late last week.
Decisions on the staff appear to be on hold as some of his former staff at Wisconsin contemplate making the move to Arkansas. Sources at Arkansas say the Razorbacks’ assistant coaches have been told there might be opportunities for them.
The final makeup of Bielema’s staff is expected to be a mix of holdovers from the current Arkansas staff, coaches from his staff at Wisconsin and some hired from other locales.
Multiple sources at Arkansas said cornerbacks coach Bobby Allen, a 15-year veteran in Fayetteville, has been offered the role of director of high school relations. Allen’s son Brandon is a redshirt freshman quarterback and his younger son Austin, also a quarterback, is a Razorbacks commitment.
Other Arkansas assistants are exploring the possibility of job opportunities elsewhere.
There is speculation defensive coordinator Paul Haynes and assistant head coach and linebackers coach Taver Johnson might be in the mix to join new Purdue Coach Darrell Hazell’s staff. Hazell served on the Ohio State staff with Haynes and Johnson for several years.
Bielema’s strongest statement regarding the staff came during Wednesday’s introductory news conference when he pledged to put together a top-notch group.
“I can’t tell you if I’m going to bring somebody from Wisconsin. I can’t tell you if I’m going to take somebody from anywhere else in the United States,” Bielema said. “I can tell you this: The staff I’m going to assemble is going to be second to none, and it’s going to be that way because of the support that I’ve gotten from the administration.”
Bielema and Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long have indicated the group of nine assistants will draw from a larger salary pool than the $2.6 million paid in salary to assistants in 2012. After firing Bobby Petrino as coach in April, Long sweetened the deals for the assistants, who took on larger responsibilities, with incentive pay that totaled slightly more than $719,000.
Bielema said during national radio interviews Friday that multi-year packages are likely to be in play for some assistants on his staff.
“We put our university, our athletic program, in position to be able to go out and recruit a sitting head coach in a BCS conference,” Long said. “You know we’ve done that over the last five years with the help of the Razorback Foundation and all of our staff, so financial resources were key to this recruiting effort.
“We knew it would be key to attracting an assistant coach pool as well. ... You heard Coach Bielema talk about some of the things he wasn’t able to do at Wisconsin [with assistant salaries] and so this provided him an opportunity to do that, so we’re excited to be able to do that.”
Sports, Pages 31 on 12/09/2012