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. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Morris speaks at Auburn
Chad Morris (left), Arkansas head coach, and Gus Malzahn, Auburn head coach, chat before the game Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.
Former University of Arkansas coach Chad Morris had a month after his firing on Nov. 10 to reflect on his life and times before being hired by his friend Gus Malzahn at Auburn University.
Morris addressed what he went through during those four weeks on Thursday while making his first public comments since Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek fired him the day after a 45-19 home loss to Western Kentucky dropped his record with the Razorbacks to 4-18.
"You know, you go through a lot of range of ups and downs," Morris said at an Auburn news conference. "You realize that at the end of the day, I just want to coach football
"I want to be out, and I want to make a difference. That's what I missed that time off, was the interaction with players, the interaction with the staff. I really missed that."
Morris has made no statement to Arkansas fans publicly or through social media since his dismissal.
At Auburn, Morris will reconnect with Malzahn, who helped spark his career in a new direction nearly 20 years ago. Morris and his staff at Stephenville, Texas, came to Northwest Arkansas to absorb Malzahn's hurry-up, no-huddle offense at Springdale High and used its principles to trigger a turnaround. Morris' career path also paralleled Malzahn's, with both serving as offensive coordinator at Tulsa, both being offensive coordinators at Power 5 schools and head coaches at Group of 5 schools before moving to the major college ranks as head coaches.
Morris said he's not sure he would have jumped back into coaching this quickly -- with Auburn preparing for a Jan. 1 Outback Bowl appearance against Minnesota -- if not for hooking up with his long-time friend.
"That's a question that I would've had to really sit and discussed, you know, because when you go through that [a firing], my focus was my family, and then what was right for the next step in our journey," Morris said. "I was wanting to make sure that if I did get back in, that it was going to be in the right situation, and here it is."
Auburn has not released the salary it will pay Morris, which would go toward offsetting the roughly $2.45 million per year owed to him by Arkansas for the next four years.
Sports on 12/20/2019
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