As the shock slowly begins to wane from Bobby Petrino‘s firing as Arkansas’ head coach earlier this week, more and more attention turns to which man will replace the disgraced coach for either the short- or the long-term.
And, if you place any faith in the individuals responsible for setting the betting lines, the football program may not even have to go out of the state to find a permanent successor.
According to Bovada.com (formerly Bodog.com), Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn is the favorite to replace Petrino, coming in at 5/2. The former Auburn offensive coordinator was one of the first names mentioned in the wake of Petrino’s firing, although he’s publicly stated that he’s “committed to being here” at ASU.
Malzahn’s far from a heavy favorite, however, as former Razorbacks OC and current UAB head coach Garrick McGee — the favorite of quite a few current and former UA players — is at 3/1 while USF head coach Skip Holtz, whose dad Lou was the Razorbacks’ head coach over three decades ago, is in the mix as far as the bettors are concerned at 7/2. Like Malzahn, Holtz has (kinda) (sorta) denied interest in the job.
FIU head coach Mario Cristobal comes in at 5/1, while Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who will be a head coach at this level sooner rather than later, is viewed as a 6/1 shot to replace Petrino.
Next in line is the most successful and established name that’s been attached to the opening — TCU’s Gary Patterson. While the odds are at 10/1, it’s head-scratching that they’re even that high, if for nothing more than the timing of the opening as well as the fact that Patterson does not “seem” like a coach who would leave a program he’s been at for 11 full seasons and turned into a powerhouse less than five months before the start of a new season. Perhaps Patterson would listen after this season if UA goes the interim route — and even then it’s anyone’s guess if he’d entertain UA’s interest — but the timing and the circumstances make him a highly unlikely option for the short-term.
Louisville’s Charlie Strong, perhaps given his extensive SEC ties, has been mentioned as a possibility as well and is a 15/1 shot according to Bovada, the same as former North Carolina and Miami (Fla.) head coach Butch Davis.
Finally, and just for spits and giggles apparently, a member of the Razorbacks’ 1964 national championship team was also listed — two-time Super Bowl and one-time NCAA champion Jimmy Johnson at 20/1.
Despite all of the names circulating around the opening, and if I were a betting man — I’ll bet you $20 I’m not — I’m laying heavy odds on athletic director Jeff Long naming a “permanent” interim head coach at some point in the next couple of weeks, following that decision up with a methodical, all-inclusive national search that will ultimately result in a permanent replacement being named at some point after the 2012 regular season.