Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
One man’s UA coaches list - not Long’s
Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy (right) and TCU's Gary Patterson have both been rumored for the Razorbacks' head coaching vacancy.
LITTLE ROCK This is Day 218 of not knowing who the next head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks will be.
That’s more than seven months of Athletic Director Jeff Long not having a single leak.
If President Obama wants someone to fill the top opening of the CIA, he might want to consider Long. If loose lips sink ships, Long is at least good enough to be the commander in chief of the Navy.
Last Saturday in the South Carolina press box, he said if enough names were mentioned, someone was going to get it right.
While Long is the one who has to get it right, here’s my top 10, with odds, and these guesses are for fun but after interviewing numerous reporters:
MIKE GUNDY, 45, Oklahoma State 5-2. Gundy and Athletic Director Mike Holder have a history that’s not good, and last October before Gundy hired Jimmy Sexton to be his agent, T. Boone Pickens sided with Holder. Apparently Holder, the former OSU golf coach, was handpicked by Pickens.
One of the sticking points for Gundy was that he wanted a 10-year-contract like basketball coach Travis Ford was given, and Pickens was quoted as saying that Holder had already said he wasn’t making that mistake again. Gundy is probably going somewhere soon. Might as well be Arkansas.
ART BRILES, 57, Baylor, 7-2. Briles is a hero in Texas where he coached high school football for 18 years before moving to the college ranks. He turned Houston and Baylor around, primarily by riding the arm of talented quarterbacks. There are no Ds in his name, but he would have to be smart enough to know that you can’t win in the SEC without defense.
TOMMY TUBERVILLE, 58, Texas Tech, 4-1. There seems to be a concern among the Razorbacks faithful that Long doesn’t want anyone with Arkansas ties, and Tuberville, as well as Louisville’s Charlie Strong, are natives of the state. There is a strong group behind Tuberville, but his agent, Jimmy Sexton, says he doesn’t know who Arkansas is hiring. If he did, would he tell anyone? Absolutely not.
Tuberville won at Ole Miss and Auburn before falling out because Tuberville wouldn’t kiss behind.
JAMES FRANKLIN, 40, Vanderbilt, 5-1. He’s the real deal. A tireless recruiter whose current class is ranked No. 15 in the nation (Arkansas’ is 47th), and whose class a year ago was ranked 29th. Makes you wonder how much facilities really count. Bruce James is probably right; players pick a head coach over office space every time.
SONNY DYKES, 43, Louisiana Tech, 6-1. Dykes is going somewhere. He’s put Tech on the national radar in a short time. He grew up and started his career in Texas, so he’s got great recruiting connections there. Like Briles, needs to learn a little more about the importance of defense.
GARY PATTERSON, 52, TCU, 7-1. The latest hot name on message boards and talk radio, but Sunday he was adamant when asked if he was interested in Arkansas job. He said no. Key factors are that he makes more than $3 million per year now. He pledged to stay if $131 million in improvements to the stadium were made, and 29 boosters stepped up and gave the money.
GUS MALZAHN, 47, Arkansas State, 10-1. His stock continues to rise and he has some strong support in Northwest Arkansas.
KIRBY SMART, 36, defensive coordinator at Alabama, 12-1. Has coached under Nick Saban on every level. Question is does he or Saban call defenses? He’s going to get a chance somewhere soon, but maybe not SEC.
CHARLIE STRONG, 52, Louisville, 14-1. May not be interested in another makeover job.
JON GRUDEN, 49, ESPN analyst, 1,000,000-1. He makes around $10 million for working half a year.
Sports, Pages 21 on 11/14/2012