One rumored candidate for the suddenly-vacated head-coaching job at Arkansas has already tried to publicly quiet the speculation connecting him to the situation in Fayetteville.
Now another is attempting to do the same.
Perhaps because his father is a former Razorbacks head coach, Skip Holtz‘s name was one of the first mentioned in the immediate aftermath of Bobby Petrino‘s firing last night. The USF head coach became aware of the speculation via his wife — “Why would anybody want to hire you? You were 5-7” — and did the expected with Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday: attempted to tamp out the speculation without completely ruling anything out.
“I have not talked to anybody from Arkansas. We’ve been through this drill. It’s flattering your name is floating around, but right now we have a job to do here. We’re in the middle of spring ball and I don’t want any distractions with his team as we’re building this thing.”
“I am not looking to leave here. I am not calling anybody. I am not trying to put my name out there. I want to be the head football coach here,” he said. “I enjoy it here. I like it here. I addressed this in the offseason when some other opportunities were open. I said then I think we have a lot of things we want to get done here. We’ve got a great senior class coming back, and the attitude and morale of this football team is my No. 1 priority.”
Of course, anyone could parse Holtz’s words and point to phrases such as “right now” or “I am not looking to leave here” as proof that, while Holtz may not be actively pursuing the job, he’d be more than willing to listen if such an opportunity presented itself.
By the same token, it’s far from a given that Arkansas would even look to a second Holtz to guide the football program. Petrino had obviously turned the Razorbacks into an upper-echelon program prior to his dismissal, seemingly making it, at minimum, a top-20 job capable of attracting high-quality candidates.
Given the timing of the opening, however, UA will likely have to wait until the next hiring cycle later this year for those type of candidates, relying instead on someone currently on the UA coaching staff for the time being. That, though, won’t quell the speculation involving Holtz or any other potential successor until a “permanent” interim head coach is named.