Morris should watch son play on Friday nights

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2018
Arkansas head coach Chad Morris, left, walks with assistant coach Barry Lunney Jr., right, and son Chandler Morris, behind, prior to the Class 4A state championship game between Warren and Arkadelphia on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, in Little Rock.
Photo by Jimmy Jones
Arkansas head coach Chad Morris, left, walks with assistant coach Barry Lunney Jr., right, and son Chandler Morris, behind, prior to the Class 4A state championship game between Warren and Arkadelphia on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, in Little Rock.

Arkansas football coaches were scheduled to be out in force in the Natural State on Friday night to watch recruits.

That includes Razorback coach Chad Morris, who will not spend this particular Friday night watching his son, Chandler Morris (6-1, 180), play as the starting quarterback for Highland Park in Dallas.

Why? Well, not because he bowed to the grief that he has been getting this week on message boards and sports call-in shows for watching his talented son play last Friday night while the rest of his team was in Fort Collins, Colo.

This was talked about before the season started, but became more of a controversy last Saturday because the Razorbacks lost a 27-9 lead and eventually the game to Colorado State.

It was a bad Arkansas loss to a team that it was favored over by almost two touchdowns and one that had given up a combined 88 points in losses to Hawaii and Colorado.

There were mistakes made by the coaching staff and the players that resulted in the loss, but I have a hard time believing that Morris watching his son pass for 312 yards last Friday night in a 35-18 home win over Mesquite Horn had anything to do with that.

There has been an outcry from a segment of the fans about Morris not being with his team on Friday for a walk-through in Colorado or for any potential prep work playing a factor in the loss, or at least not a good look.

I would counter that it is a good look for a staff that promotes its program as a big family — something that has been mentioned to me or to fellow WholeHogSports recruiting writer Richard Davenport by almost all of the 19 pledges upon committing.

I have absolutely no problems with Morris going to see his son play and that was before I knew that Arkansas — under its new staff — has walk-throughs on Saturday mornings instead of Friday afternoon, and he did not miss any of his duties.

We asked the elder Morris about watching Chandler, who has offers from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Auburn and Clemson, before the season started and again during his Wednesday media opportunity ahead of practice.

He steadfastly defended his decision, reiterated he missed none of his duties and noted that Clemson coach Dabo Swinney used to do this as well.

Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek, who did the same thing with his sons when he was the AD at Houston, confirmed his support for Morris doing the dad thing.

Morris is not the first coach at Arkansas to go see a son or daughter play, and I’m sure he won’t be the last.

A quick Google search shows that Bob Stoops, Mike Gundy, Urban Meyer, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Bowden and Monte Kiffin are a few well-known names who have gone to see their sons or daughters athletic contests and thus “taken” time away from their teams.

There are also some fans out there on message boards and call-in shows who seem to be upset that the younger Morris decided to stay in Dallas and play at Highland Park.

That’s the same Highland Park that plays great competition and has won back-to-back Class 5A state titles. The school has produced six Division I quarterbacks since head coach Randy Allen took over in 1999.

That number includes current Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and current Razorbacks freshman John Stephen Jones.

Seems like a no-brainer to me, seeing as how the younger Morris has been with his teammates since junior high school and the competition is great.

Morris knew what he was getting into taking over a program picked as the 13th or 14th-best in the SEC and it sure looks like that after the first two weeks of the season.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and Arkansas’ football team is not going to be rebuilt in one day or one season, either.

The best thing he and his staff can do is recruit their way out of it.

The fact that the Razorbacks’ 2019 recruiting class is currently ranked 17th on Rivals — the best Arkansas recruit ranking since 2002 — seems to be a positive. They might be able to do that.

It will help if he can add players such as Pulaski Academy’s Hudson Henry (6-5, 230), Bentonville West linebacker Kendall Young (6-5, 210), who is set to make his decision next Thursday, Bentonville West athlete Jadon Jackson (6-2, 175) and the Mansfield (Texas) Legacy duo of defensive end Taurean Carter (6-3, 260) and safety Jalen Catalon (5-11, 190) and/or others to the fold.

Arkansas coaches will be out recruiting in Alabama and surrounding states when the Razorbacks travel to Auburn next weekend and in Texas when they face Texas A&M the following weekend in Arlington in the Southwest Classic.

They have a total of 42 days on the road to evaluate, not one of which the NCAA counts when Morris the coach goes to see the Morris the quarterback or anybody he happens to be playing against.

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