HOG CALLS:

New Razorback leaders set positive tone early

By: Nate Allen
Published: Saturday, December 9, 2017
Arkansas football coach Chad Morris (far right) speaks while athletics director Hunter Yurachek (center) and former interim athletics director Julie Cromer Peoples look on during a news conference Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas football coach Chad Morris (far right) speaks while athletics director Hunter Yurachek (center) and former interim athletics director Julie Cromer Peoples look on during a news conference Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Tried and true old adages often conflict.

Like, "You can't judge a book by its cover" vs. "First impressions are lasting impressions."

Diametrically opposed, yet both often correct.

For better and for worse, we can all cite occasions regarding what we thought we first saw ultimately is not what we got.

And we can all ruefully recall first impressions with lasting permanence. Some of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville's introductory Razorbacks news conferences proved all too prophetic.

John L. Smith played comedian when introduced in 2012 as the Razorbacks' interim head football coach.

Alas, Smith coaching a preseason picked Top 10 team became a 4-8 joke.

Back in 2007, not quite suppressing his glee that iconically powerful Arkansas athletics director Frank Broyles was being eased into retirement on Jan. 1, 2008, former UA Chancellor John White expressed loathing for the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," while introducing Jeff Long, hired then from Pittsburgh as Arkansas' AD-in-waiting.

Long eagerly asserted he read from White's same page.

Thereupon, they broke fixed Razorbacks relationships and traditions like a loan shark's goon breaks arms.

So it was refreshing, these Wednesday and Thursday press conferences, respectively introducing Hunter Yurachek, the former University of Houston athletics director hired as the Razorbacks' athletic director, and SMU coach and former Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris as the Razorbacks' head football coach.

Both exhibited flashes of endearing senses of humor, but both properly addressed the seriousness of their tasks to the state of Arkansas with the Razorbacks indelibly woven into all of the state's 75 counties.

Above all, both newcomers promised they arrive all ears rather than all answers.

Yurachek told UA Chancellor Joe Steinmetz he would spend many of his first 100 days on the job traveling the state, listening and learning.

"Right now, I have very few answers and so many questions," Yurachek said. "I am going to ask those questions to a number of people and listen intently and gain a complete understanding of the culture here at the University of Arkansas and across this great state."

That sure seems to beat fixing what's not broken when you're too new to know what's broken, what's fixed or what's fixing to break.

Of course, Morris immediately will canvass the state recruiting, but vowed after the December 20-22 and February signing periods that he again will travel the state, not just speaking also but listening and learning.

Bret Bielema, Arkansas' coach from 2013 until he was fired on Nov. 24, tried hard to bring back disenchanted Razorbacks alums.

But too many still believed themselves shut out since Long and former Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino put the football program in virtual lockdown.

This week's simultaneous AD and coaching changes could bode for a positive, reinforced redirection.

"This is your home," Morris said referencing former Razorbacks and Arkansas' high school coaches. "We want you here. We need you here. You're welcome back with open arms all day, any day."

Arkansas' new AD and new coach apparently seek fixing what's broken over breaking what's fixed.

Sports on 12/09/2017

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