Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy, has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame, and has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Arkansas, Texas share similar coaching carousel
Texas coach Charlie Strong, left, and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema shake hands following a press conference at the Westin Galleria hotel Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014 in Houston.
FAYETTEVILLE — Since their last clash in 2014, the Arkansas Razorbacks and Texas Longhorns keep optimistically turning corners crashed into brick walls.
One will crash into that wall again tonight, though with more than ample time for the loser possibly to recover, and the winner again to become disgruntled with its coach.
Disgruntlement following brief optimism seems the recent Arkansas and Texas norm.
Arkansas, since Bobby Petrino on April Fool’s Day 2012 crashed his motorcycle, is on its fourth head football coach.
Five if you 2019 include Barry Lunney Jr. completing Chad Morris’ second SEC winless, 2-10 overall season.
Since running off former national champion coach Mack Brown, the Longhorns operate under their third nationally hottest coaching candidate. They canned the last two.
Under new vs. recently new management, 15th-ranked Texas and Arkansas clash tonight at a standing-room-only Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
It marks their sixth nonconference meeting since they were often nationally acclaimed rivals in the bygone Southwest Conference.
They should meet soon within the SEC once Texas fulfills its Big 12 contracts.
At least one of these two teams rode high into the 1999 Hogs and ’Horns Cotton Bowl clash and autumn games in Austin in 2003 and 2008, and Fayetteville in 2004.
Just breaking even in 2014, but still living off their storied SWC rivalry, the 6-6 Razorbacks of then-second-year coach Bret Bielema and 6-6 Longhorns under then first-year Charlie Strong matched in the Texas Bowl.
Arkansas romped 31-7.
Arkansas Athletics Director Jeff Long rewarded Bielema a lavish buyout in his contract.
By November 2017, Arkansas canned Long and Bielema — Long in part because of the Bielema buyout.
Sam Pittman, Bielema’s 2013-15 offensive line coach, started righting Arkansas' ship in his 2020 debut season as head coach. A 3-7 SEC record sounds meager until contrasted to his immediate predecessors’ 1-7, 0-8, 0-8.
Most saw progress, though social media snarked as Pittman’s Hogs last Saturday trailed 19-point underdog Rice 17-7 before winning 38-17.
Firing Strong, the Longhorns false-started “Texas is back” when hot commodity Tom Herman, the former Ohio State offensive coordinator and former Houston Cougars head coach, piloted the 2018 Longhorns to a Sugar Bowl upset over No. 5 Georgia.
Soon Texas backed off Herman. He was fired following a 7-3 season in 2020 despite winning five of his last six.
Steve Sarkisian, the Alabama offensive coordinator and play caller for the Tide’s 2020 national champion juggernaut, head coaches the ‘Horns as their latest hot commodity. Last week Texas beat Louisiana-Lafayette, then nationally 23rd, yet still a football fan's no-name.
Big names clash traditionally tonight.
Fayetteville’s Dickson Street will toast Pittman into the wee hours if Arkansas wins.
Sarkisian will be Austin honored if the UT Tower postgame victoriously glows burnt orange.
Yet the winner’s joy could prove short term.
As reflected by fates of victorious-yet-fired coaches of Arkansas and Texas past, some forget those victories supposedly unforgettable.
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