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.
Long tells Hogs they’ll get coach within 2 weeks
STAFF PHOTO JASON IVESTER -- University of Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long speaks on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, during the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club meeting inside Mermaids restaurant in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long met with the Razorbacks football team Sunday night and told them he expected to name a head football coach within 10 to 14 days, sources close to the team said.
Long has had seven months to conduct background checks, gauge interest and discuss candidates with third parties since he named John L. Smith the interim coach April 23. Now, after notifying Smith on Saturday that he was being reassigned within the department and with schools across the nation dismissing head coaches, the race to fill the top spots is heating up.
Long has been adamant about the need to maintain secrecy in his search, and he has not commented publicly on any of the names tossed into the mix by media and message boards.
Plus, many of the coaches who have been mentioned as potential candidates to replace Smith have games remaining in the regular season.
Big 12 coaches Art Briles of Baylor, Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State and Gary Patterson of TCU, who have all been involved in speculation about the Arkansas job, have games over the weekend. Briles’ Bears, who improved to 6-5 last week with a 52-45 overtime victory over Texas Tech, take on Gundy’s Cowboys (7-4) in Waco, Texas, on Saturday. The Horned Frogs (7-4) finish up at home against Oklahoma.
Boise State Coach Chris Petersen, who has been a hot coaching commodity for several years, briefly addressed speculation connecting him to the openings at Arkansas and California at his Monday news conference, in advance of Boise State’s regular-season finale Saturday at Nevada.
“It’s just rumors,” Petersen said. “That’s all I want really to say about this, and I say it every year. It’s just rumors.
“I don’t even think half the time it’s reporters. Everybody’s a reporter these days. Everybody’s got an opinion on a blog, so they throw it out and, ‘Oh, it’s going to happen.’ ”
Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin, whom ESPN.com’s Chris Low suggested was in the mix for the Arkansas job, was asked on Nashville radio station WGFX-FM, 104.5, Monday if he was planning to be at Vanderbilt for the long haul.
“That answer will be resolved very quickly,” said Franklin, whose team wrapped up an 8-4 season with a 55-21 victory at Wake Forest on Saturday and now awaits its bowl invitation.
Louisville Coach Charlie Strong, a natural candidate at Arkansas given his roots in Batesville, will lead his team against Rutgers on Thursday with a chance to claim a share of the Big East title. Strong suggested earlier this fall he intended to remain at Louisville and Cardinals Athletic Director Tom Jurich has said he would battle to keep his coach.
Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher, whose name has entered the conversation about the vacancies at Auburn and Arkansas, said on Orlando’s WYGM-AM, 740, Monday,
“Rumors are funny things. The guys that get rumored, those are the guys that never get the job. I am very happy at Florida State. We are building something here. We are doing great things. We are on the verge of being a very special program.”
Sports, Pages 15 on 11/27/2012