Morris: Razorbacks' full coaching staff not close

By: Tom Murphy
Published: December 16, 2017 at 4:30 a.m. - Updated: December 18, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.
Chad Morris, the new University of Arkansas head football coach, calls the hogs with fans as he is introduced during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
Chad Morris, the new University of Arkansas head football coach, calls the hogs with fans as he is introduced during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas Razorbacks football Coach Chad Morris indicated Friday it might be awhile before he hires and officially announces his first coaching staff.

Morris made the remarks while appearing on the Paul Finebaum Show when he was asked about how difficult it has been to build his staff with some of his candidates possibly preparing for bowl games at other universities.

"Yeah, it's been really, really tough," Morris said. "Really tough on that when you start looking at it, because they've got obligations to their other university that they're at right now and they're in a signing period, a signing class time that they don't want to do anything to disrupt there. That's been very difficult."

The Razorbacks brought on board several assistant coaches from Morris' staff at SMU and retained tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr., the former Arkansas quarterback, to put together a class of prospects for the first early signing period, which will be Wednesday through Friday.

Former SMU offensive coaches Joe Craddock, Dustin Fry and Justin Stepp have been on the recruiting trail along with Mark Smith, who was the Mustangs' recruiting director under Morris. Running backs coach Jeff Traylor, who had been named SMU's interim coach for Wednesday's Frisco Bowl against Louisiana Tech, also is expected to join Morris at Arkansas after new SMU Coach Sonny Dykes announced he would work the bowl game.

Randy Ross, the director of football operations at SMU, also has transitioned to the Razorbacks.

Current Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis is known to be among the candidates for the defensive coordinator job at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Chavis is still on the Aggies' staff with interim head coach Jeff Banks preparing for the Dec. 29 Belk Bowl game against Wake Forest in Charlotte, N.C.

Incoming Texas A&M head Coach Jimbo Fisher is not expected to retain Chavis, 61, who has been a defensive coordinator in the SEC for the past 23 years at Tennessee (1995-2008), LSU (2009-14) and Texas A&M (2015-2017).

Washington State defensive coordinator Alex Grinch also has been connected to the Arkansas opening, though reports on Friday suggested the Grove City, Ohio, native has interviewed for open positions at Alabama, Florida and Texas A&M and that he could also be a candidate for a position at Ohio State.

Morris said on the Paul Finebaum Show that he might have to wait until after bowl games to put his coaching staff in place.

"While we've got a really, really strong idea of what my staff is going to look like, you're not ready to announce anything, you can't announce anything right now until some of these games get out of the way and definitely until after the 20th gets here," Morris said in reference to Wednesday's signing day.

Another factor for Morris and other FBS head coaches is the addition of a 10th full-time assistant, which is scheduled to become effective Jan. 9.

Morris addressed the issue after his introductory news conference Dec. 7 when he was asked whether the 10th assistant will be devoted to special teams.

"A lot depends on our staff that we hire," he said. "If I've got a guy on there that is a special teams [coach] that's maybe another position coach, I may put him on the defensive side of the ball and give us five and five on each side.

"That's just kind of my thought process right now. Then again, I very well could hire just a full-time special teams coach."

Sports on 12/16/2017

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