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:
Tuberville worthy of getting another look
LITTLE ROCK If you look at the most recent history of the hiring of head football coaches at Arkansas, Bobby Petrino may have been the biggest name hired, and he was in the twilight of a very mediocre year with the Atlanta Falcons.
Frank Broyles had been at Missouri one year when he came to Arkansas.
He hired Lou Holtz, who had been fired by the New York Jets.
Broyles later hired Ken Hatfield, who was at the Air Force Academy and eventually bolted from Arkansas to take the Clemson job after being pressured to fire his staff.
Jack Crowe was an assistant under Hatfield when he got the job for two years and a game.
Joe Kines was the interim, and he brought his close friend Danny Ford on as advisor.
After a campuswide search, Ford — who had been fired at Clemson — got the job.
When he was fired, then-Chancellor John White appointed a search committee to find the new coach. The committee was comprised mostly of former UA players, mostly quarterbacks.
The job came down to two people, Tommy Tuberville and Houston Nutt.
Tuberville’s name is a hot one again as a candidate for the Arkansas job. What is this, the third time? He’s a Camden native, and the UA job would be a coming home of sorts.
Nutt’s name isn’t being mentioned, at least not in Arkansas, but smart money says he will be coaching this time next year, maybe at Kentucky.
A caller last week on Drivetime Sports said it was former quarterback Bill Montgomery’s fault that Arkansas hired Nutt instead of Tuberville.
Actually, it was just the opposite.
The committee met with instructions from White that he wanted a unanimous choice, and the vote started out heavily in favor of Tuberville.
Montgomery, who had spent time with Tuberville at the College Football Hall of Fame induction in New York, was impressed with Tuberville and what he was doing at Ole Miss, a program he had taken over while it was on probation.
After going 5-6 in his second season, which was pretty incredible considering what he had inherited, Tuberville didn’t have another losing season at Ole Miss.
Anyway, a lot of campaigning went on that night and the vote started to ease toward Nutt until one final vote and one lone dissenter held out for Tuberville.
That was Montgomery.
Finally — and the story varies here — he either snapped his pencil in half or slammed it on the table, and with exasperation and exhaustion he made it unanimous.
Tuberville, 58, got word of the decision and went on a Memphis radio show and withdrew his name from consideration about the time the Razorback Foundation’s plane was landing in Boise, Idaho, to pick up Nutt and his wife and fly them back for the news conference announcing he was the new head coach.
Tuberville went to Auburn, where he was never appreciated despite a perfect season in 2004 and eventually was dismissed with a huge payout.
Now he’s at Texas Tech and was the flavor of the week last week after beating TCU 56-53.
His name isn’t being mentioned as much in Arkansas after Texas Tech’s 55-24 loss to Kansas State, but let him beat Texas this weekend and the fans will rally for him again.
Only Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long knows if Tuberville is on the list of candidates, but it is a quality name to discuss during these trying times.
The past eight times the Razorbacks have played on Halloween, dating to 1953, they are undefeated with a record of 7-0-1. Going back to 1903, they are 9-6-1 overall in trick-or-treat games.
Sports, Pages 21 on 10/31/2012