More and more we keep hearing SMU coach Chad Morris is the leader in the search for Arkansas’ next football coach.
Again, that’s what we’re hearing. To the best of our knowledge, nobody knows a whole lot about what’s going on in the search.
With new athletics director Hunter Yurachek being on board already and apparently comfortable with the candidates the Joe and Julie Show have put together, Morris’ name is the one we keep hearing.
Here’s who is not in the mix, according to what we hear:
• Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic … He never has likely really been under consideration. While the upside potential is certainly there, you also have to consider the downside. It’s doubtful Chancellor Joe Steinmetz wants to deal with worrying about what the football coach might tweet, among other things.
• Kevin Sumlin, former Texas A&M coach … Again, someone who has never seriously been in the mix, likely because he has no interest in coaching at Arkansas.
• Charlie Strong, South Florida … Arkansas native reportedly made a phone call about the position, which sounds tremendously suspect just on the surface. It has since been reportedly denied. Who knows whether it actually happened or not, but he’s not in the mix.
• Mike Norvell, Memphis … The talk surrounding him has slowed down considerably in the last couple of days. There are reports of a problem in the vetting, but we have no idea what that is. He signed a new deal with the Tigers on Tuesday, so he’s out of the mix.
Names mentioned, but not likely to be seriously considered:
• Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia … Other than a couple of mentions of “names to think about” type things, we haven’t heard his name in the mix at all. The former Oklahoma offensive coordinator appears to be happy with the Mountaineers.
• Mike Leach, Washington State … While a favorite of some fans, we haven’t heard of him being seriously considered. The problems are too numerous, but he’s a wildcard for anybody and nothing indicates he is even remotely a good fit for Arkansas, especially after you do a little talking to people who are familiar with him.
• Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State … He’s not leaving Stillwater. He gave Tennessee a cursory conversation (we heard it never got close to an interview) because he was in Dallas and John Currie just showed up to talk. It didn’t last long and was reportedly dismissed as soon as it started. Until he starts losing don’t look for him to be leaving Oklahoma State.
Now here’s the names we hear still in the mix, ranked from most likely downward:
• Chad Morris, SMU … Apparently he’s the leader in the clubhouse. Obviously no decision has been made (that we know about), but we can’t find a single person to issue one negative about the guy. Even Brent Venables, in Little Rock for the Broyles Award, was singing Morris’ praises.
• Brent Venables, Clemson defensive coordinator … Talk about him has cooled in the last 24 hours and at the Broyles Award he talked in glowing terms more about Morris than anyone else.
There may be someone we have not heard of. Remember in December 2012 none of us had any idea Jeff Long was talking to Bret Bielema, either, until the deal was done.
But we are expecting it to be wrapped up this week.
There is a press conference at 10:30 Tuesday morning with Yurachek, but we would be completely shocked if there was any announcement about a football coach then.