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.
UA isn’t in hurry to fill job
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema leaves the field after an NCAA college football game against South Carolina in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. South Carolina won 52-7. (AP Photo/April L. Brown)
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas will resume active recruiting today without a defensive coordinator on staff.
Coach Bret Bielema said he’ll likely take a few days to name a replacement for Chris Ash, who left after one season with the Razorbacks to take a co-coordinator’s role on defense at Ohio State, a former top rival for Bielema and Ash at Wisconsin.
“I’ve taken some calls here in the first 24 hours,” Bielema said Wednesday afternoon. “I want to kind of do as I always do, take 48 hours to just kind of see who gets interested.
“There’s names that I’ve got. There are a lot of names that are coming to me. Even this morning I’m blown away with the amount of contact I’ve gotten.”
Bielema filled defensive line coach Charlie Partridge’s spot last Wednesday with Rory Segrest, saying he wanted to have Segrest in place for the recruiting push that begins today.
Bielema said he hasn’t decided whether he’ll promote from within or go outside his staff to find a defensive coordinator. Ash also coached safeties, splitting up the secondary with cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson, so Bielema should have a little bit of latitude in what position the new hire will coach.
“It’s a live recruiting period starting [today], so it’s a pretty intense period for 48 hours,” Bielema said. “I’ll take the weekend, see where we’re at, take a good look and see what gives us the best opportunity to win.”
Bielema’s defensive staff includes two former coordinators in Randy Shannon and Taver Johnson. Shannon coordinated the University of Miami defense from 2001-2006 before becoming the Hurricanes’ head coach for five seasons. Johnson last served as a defensive coordinator at Miami (Ohio) for two seasons (2005-2006).
Bielema said he would consider promoting from within but hasn’t made up his mind.
Bielema is building a track record of producing assistants and coordinators who go on to bigger jobs, like head coaches Dave Doeren at North Carolina State, Paul Chryst at Pittsburgh and now Partridge at Florida Atlantic.
“I think I’ve hired five or six guys now as position coaches that left as coordinators and obviously three guys as full-fledged head coaches,” he said. “So I think promoting from within is great. Whether I’ll do it here or not, I don’t know that. I’m probably leaning toward the other way, bringing in some new blood and we’ll see where it goes.”
Bielema said he learned from one of his mentors, Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez, to take the loss of an assistant as an indication you are doing things right.
“I remember this one from Coach Alvarez, that when someone takes one of your guys you should take it as a compliment,” he said. “If some team can’t get it right, they’re going to come to you to take someone from yourself to help them try to fix their own situation.
“So, I think Chris brings a lot to the table and if he can help Ohio State get it figured out defensively, that’d be great.”
Sports, Pages 19 on 01/16/2014