UA hires ex-Hog Lunney

Receivers coach leaving UA staff

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Arkansas tight end coach Barry Lunney Jr. is expected to see Lakeside QB Garrett Carson in the spring.
Photo by Jimmy Jones
Arkansas tight end coach Barry Lunney Jr. is expected to see Lakeside QB Garrett Carson in the spring.

— Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema hired former Razorbacks quarterback Barry Lunney Jr. as his tight ends coach Tuesday, but his staff still isn’t completed.

Lunney was the ninth assistant coach hired by Bielema, but the hiring came on the same day receivers coach George McDonald submitted his resignation after less than a month on the job.

Reports indicate McDonald is expected to be named offensive coordinator at Syracuse, although neither school officially confirmed it Tuesday.

“When you set out to assemble one of the top coaching staffs in the country, the group will consist of individuals who are highly respected and highly sought after,” Bielema said through a university statement announcing that he had accepted McDonald’s resignation. “I wish George the best of luck as an offensive coordinator at a major university.”

Lunney, who has served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on his father’s staff at Bentonville High School the past eight years, interviewed with Bielema last Tuesday. Lunney, who as a team captain led Arkansas to the 1995 SEC West title and its first SEC Championship Game appearance, gives Bielema’s staff its first Arkansas alumnus.

Bielema said through a university release that Lunney would be a “tremendous bridge” to former Ra- zorbacks players, high school coaches and the state.

“In the world of college football there have been numerous examples of high school coaches joining a college coaching staff and making an immediate impact,” the release read. “Barry has experienced success through his seven years as a college coach and at the highest levels in high school.”

Lunney was a 40-game starter for the Razorbacks who departed after the 1995 season holding school records for career passing yards (5,782) and touchdown passes (33).

He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Arkansas in 1998 and went on to coach at Tulsa and San Jose State before joining his father’s staff at Bentonville. The Tigers won Class 7A state championships in 2008 and 2010, have played in the past three title games and have claimed six consecutive 7A-West Conference titles.

Lunney could not be reached for comment Tuesday but is expected to hold a teleconference this morning.

McDonald, who was hired Dec. 19, signed an offer letter that called for a $50,000 prorated buyout that, if enforced, would mean he would owe Arkansas roughly $46,100 after working less than a month for the Razorbacks.

A move to Syracuse would reunite McDonald with Scott Shafer, who was introduced as head coach at the school last Friday. Shafer and Mc-Donald served as the defensive and offensive coordinators at Western Michigan in 2005-06.

McDonald, 36, has taken two new jobs in the same offseason previously. He left his position as receivers coach with the Cleveland Browns on Jan. 6, 2010, to join Greg Schiano’s staff at Rutgers before departing less than a week later to return to the Browns, who offered a twoyear deal and a raise.

In his introductory teleconference Dec. 19, McDonald talked about the excitement of coaching in the SEC for the first time.

“Obviously the SEC has grown to become one of the top conferences in the country, or the best conference in the country,” McDonald said. “I want to be known as one of the best receiver coaches in the SEC.”

McDonald was named one of the top recruiters in the country last season by for his work at the University of Miami.

Sports, Pages 17 on 01/16/2013