New UA coach gets good reviews across college football

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, December 8, 2017
Arkansas football coach Chad Morris, left, is greeted by Arkansas basketball coach Mike Anderson, right, while agent Jimmy Sexton looks on following a news conference Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas football coach Chad Morris, left, is greeted by Arkansas basketball coach Mike Anderson, right, while agent Jimmy Sexton looks on following a news conference Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson got a first-hand look at the creative, high tempo Chad Morris offense at SMU this September while watching the Mustangs' 44-21 victory over Arkansas State in Dallas.

Hutchinson was impressed at the time and "pleased" now that Morris has joined the Arkansas Razorbacks as head coach.

"Of course he beat us that day, which I was not too happy with," Hutchinson said. "Clearly he has an exciting team and he's really turned that program around there.

"I like his honesty. He says, 'I'm not that connected to Arkansas but I'm a quick learner.' That honesty, I think, will sell well in the state."

Morris' hiring by the Razorbacks, with interim Athletic Director Julie Cromer Peoples and new permanent Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek completing the deal, has been applauded across the spectrum of college football.

Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn, who was Arkansas' first choice and from whom Morris picked up elements of his offense, tweeted, "Congratulations to my good friend Chad Morris. Great coach, great person. Welcome to the SEC West."

Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney took a chance on Morris in 2011 after the Texan had spent one season as a college coordinator at the University of Tulsa and watched the Tigers' offense turn into a beast that produced 127 offensive records and the top three scoring seasons in school history during Morris' four-year run.

Swinney is high on Morris.

"It has been fun to see someone who coaches here blossom in his career," Swinney said in a UA release. "He did a phenomenal job in his four years at Clemson and it has been exciting to see what he has done at SMU. I believe he will be a great fit at Arkansas and I am excited to see what he will do with that program."

UA trustee Mark Waldrip was one of the advisers to Cromer Peoples and accompanied her to interview candidates, including Morris.

"I'm just ecstatic about the hiring of Coach Morris," Waldrip said. "He's an outstanding football coach, certainly, but in getting to know him a little bit, I think he's an outstanding individual.

"Everything that he shared with us in the process about his football philosophy was very impressive. We're convinced that he can be a great recruiter, a great ambassador for this state and a person who brings young men into this program that benefits us as a state and benefits the young men as well."

Waldrip said former Arkansas quarterback Quinn Grovey provided insight on the nature of Morris' offensive schemes.

"His offense is extremely explosive," Grovey said. "He's a guy who brings a lot to the table with everything he did from a Clemson standpoint, helping build that program. He's a guy that is a man of character. The kids love playing for him. I think this is a great fit for him."

Cromer Peoples said Morris filled her search team's criteria.

"Very importantly, we were looking for someone who would embrace the culture of our state and our university and our program," she said. "Today we introduce a coach who not only meets all those desired traits but also leads an exciting brand of football that is both successful and entertaining. He is an innovative tactician who puts his players in positions to succeed. I have no doubt we have found the right coach to lead our program."

Yurachek described the importance of the football program during his introductory press conference on Thursday.

"Really, what we need is we need a football program that competes for championships in the Southeastern Conference," he said. "That's what drives the train. It's really what drives your revenue. That's what creates that brand perception that you need.

"We have other very, very nationally competitive sports here at the University of Arkansas, but for our entire athletic program to be successful year in and year out, we need our football program to be successful year in and year out, not only in the Southeastern Conference, but nationally."

John Moritz and Bob Holt of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette contributed to this report

Sports on 12/08/2017

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