Arkansas St Malzahn Football

Wanna bet? Malzahn the favorite to replace Petrino


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 (formerly, 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.

Ole Miss OT Laremy Tunsil to return for Texas A&M on Oct. 24

Associated Press
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As if this day wasn’t busy enough, Ole Miss announced late Monday evening star-crossed offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil‘s suspension has been capped at seven games, meaning he’ll miss Saturday’s trip to Memphis but return in time for Texas A&M visit to The Grove on Oct. 24.

From the university:

The University initially withheld Tunsil from competition at the start of the season as both the NCAA and the University examined several alleged improper benefits.  During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle.  In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles.  He later corrected his account and since apologized. 

As part of his reinstatement conditions, the NCAA imposed a seven-game suspension, ordered Tunsil to pay the value of the extra benefits to a charity, perform community service, and he will also make the vehicle down payment.

Said Tunsil: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire Ole Miss family for how my choices affected our program. This was a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field with my team and redeeming myself. The last 10 months have been a physical and mental battle for me, but I love playing this game more than anything else. I want to be here for my teammates who are depending on me to finish what we started together.”

The news is, obviously, great for Tunsil and head coach Hugh Freeze personally, as well as the entire Ole Miss football program. It’s also a nice plus for NFL scouts, as it means Tunsil’s first live action of 2015 will come against possible future No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett.

Hope he’s been practicing.

Report: Steve Spurrier set to retire

Steve Spurrier

Say it ain’t so, Steve.

According to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated Monday evening, Steve Spurrier is set to retire.

Spurrier, 70, is a legend the likes college football has never seen before and never will again.

He was a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida, then returned to his alma mater and turned the program into a juggernaut, leading the Gators to 122-27-1 record from 1990-01 and a national championship in 1996. After a stint with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Spurrier landed at South Carolina, where since 2005 he’s racked up a school record 86 wins.

But those wins slowed down of late. After an SEC East championship in 2010 and three straight 11-2 seasons from 2011-13, the Gamecocks fell to 7-6 in 2014, and are off to a 2-4 mark this fall. With the possibility of losses to nemeses old and new like Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson ahead, Spurrier, it appears, would rather fade away quietly to the putting green.

Perhaps no two sentences summarize Spurrier, then and now, more precisely than this:

Combined with his three years at Duke, Spurrier closes up shop with a 228-89-2 mark, and a bust in the coaches’ wing of the Hall of Fame waiting for him.