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.
Briles reportedly a candidate for OC at Miami
Arkansas offensive coordinator Kendal Briles claps during a game against Ole Miss on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Oxford, Miss.
FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas offensive coordinator Kendal Briles is reportedly a candidate for the vacant offensive coordinator position at the University of Miami.
On Tuesday, Brett McMurphy of The Action Network reported the Hurricanes had made an offer for Briles, although that could not be independently confirmed by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Briles’ name had surfaced weeks ago as a potential candidate for the opening, soon after Mario Cristobal was named the Hurricanes head coach on Dec. 6.
Sources with knowledge of the situation said it was more likely Briles, whose $1 million contract is in the midst of being renegotiated, remains with the Razorbacks for a third season.
Briles, 39, was in Atlanta and Nashville, Tenn., recruiting on behalf of Arkansas and Coach Sam Pittman on Tuesday and touting it on his Twitter account. While in Atlanta earlier in the day, Briles posted a video on social media of his rental vehicle that ended with a close-up of a Razorback cap on the dashboard.
The McMurphy report was met with a counterpoint by Mike Ryan Ruiz, the executive producer of “The Dan Le Batard Show” based out of Miami. Ruiz posted on his Twitter account he understood Miami had spoken to Briles “but a formal offer wasn’t made at the time” and that the only active offer for the position is “not to Briles.”
Toledo Coach Jason Candle is reportedly also a candidate for the Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator job after posting a 45-27 record in six-plus seasons with the Rockets.
Briles has turned the Arkansas offense into a formidable unit in two seasons under Pittman, with pocket quarterback Feleipe Franks in 2020 and dual-threat quarterback KJ Jefferson last season.
The Razorbacks finished with 227.8 rushing yards and 213.9 passing yards per game while going 9-4 in 2021, the first season Arkansas has averaged 200-plus yards rushing and passing since 1971.
Arkansas ranked 27th in the FBS with 441.7 yards per game, 48th with 30.9 points per game, seventh in rushing, 85th in passing and 10th in passing efficiency.
Franks broke Kevin Scanlon’s 41-year school record with 68.5% pass completions in 2020, and Jefferson’s 67.3% last season ranks second at Arkansas.
Pittman has been outspoken about wanting to keep his entire staff in place, mentioning on national signing day on Dec. 21 several assistants had already begun negotiations for raises.
“To put it out there, I don’t want to lose anybody on the staff,” Pittman said. “So, I’m sure the university will sit down and figure out what we can do to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’ve already started on a couple of guys. But no, I don’t want to lose anybody and I have no indication that we’re going to.”
Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek, speaking to the Democrat-Gazette on Dec. 17, said he wanted to reward the football coaches for having a strong season.
“I don’t want to reward them for looking at other jobs, I want to reward them for having a great year here at the University of Arkansas,” Yurachek said. “I think if you look at programs across the country that have some really solid continuity within their coaching staffs, it helps you from a recruiting standpoint. It helps you … in the development of young men.
“It’s important that we retain as many if not all of our assistant coaches moving forward. Now we have coaches on our staff that have aspirations eventually to being head coaches. We don’t want to stop them from that, but we don’t want them to take what I would consider a lateral move because of the compensation they may receive.”
Briles, who last year received a two-year extension through February 2023, has been working under a contract that pays $1 million per year since his hiring in December 2019, though he and all the other coaches on staff accepted a temporary salary reduction from August 2020 through June 2021 as part of covid reductions for the department.
Cristobal announced on Jan. 5 that he had hired Bryan McClendon as wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator after he had served as receivers coach and passing game coordinator for Cristobal at the University of Oregon. The Hurricanes also have two offensive assistants listed on their roster: Tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Stephen Field and running backs coach Eric Hickson.
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