It’s a combination of timing (which is awful) and availability (which is limited), but there just aren’t many coaching options for Arkansas right now in the wake of the Bobby Petrino firing. Athletic director Jeff Long said earlier this week in his press conference that he would begin a coaching search immediately with linebackers coach Taver Johnson serving as the interim leader of the team.
Long has said via his Twitter account he hasn’t been in contact with anyone yet about the vacancy; of course, that doesn’t mean someone from Arkansas hasn’t been making the phone calls for him. All that’s available now is speculation based on who we — meaning media and fans alike — think would be a good fit.
Gus Malzahn, Skip Holz and Bo Pelini — they’ve all said the same thing, more or less: “Thanks, but no thanks.”
That’s what you can expect, and TCU coach Gary Patterson is no different.
“I’ve had my nose down,” Patterson told Cedric Golden of the Austin American Statesman about the UA job. “I’ve been working on two-days. Everyday we’re meeting on the stadium. Right now we’re concentrating on getting ready for the season at TCU.”
Questioning Patterson about Arkansas is completely warranted, though. If I was Long, Patterson would be at or near the top of my first-to-mind coaching list. Simply put, Patterson’s a hell of a coach and a big reason TCU is in the Big 12 right now (it’s certainly not because of the DFW TV market, already saturated by Texas and Oklahoma). His toughness would be perfect for the SEC.
I’d look at Paul Rhoads at Iowa State too. Rhoads just signed a huge extension with the Cyclones and may be perfectly content there, but if anyone has ever seen the way that team runs through walls for him, he’d at least be worth a phone call.
Both of those coaches certainly have had chances to take other jobs, and so far neither have. But coaching carousels typically revolve around windows. Patterson, Rhoads, Chris Petersen… they’re all in that window of hot coaching commodities. It’s about the right opportunity.
Arkansas is a good job too, and one that’s primed for success thanks to Petrino. Does that mean UA will be able to get someone in the next month or so? Possible, but Long’s options might be far more numerous and of higher quality in, say, December.