After three weeks of agony for Razorback fans, there’s finally a new coach in place.
Chad Morris is the pick and if Bret Bielema was supposed to a home run hire back in December 2012, this one is a grand slam.
Back in 2012, those saying Bielema was a great hire weren’t looking very close. It was a bad fit from an experience and a scheme standpoint. Not that he was a bad coach — in the Midwest and Big 10 — but seriously out of place in the SEC.
Morris was considered one of the top candidates for every job that came around after about 2012. At that time, though, he hadn’t been a head coach at the college level and if Jeff Long hadn’t got a love letter from Bielema he might very well have been in the mix then the way things were going.
Instead he went to SMU and took over a program that was 1-11. Rebuilding that is no easy task. SMU has higher entrance requirements than Vanderbilt and they do not cut a break to get good athletes in school.
He got them to 7-5 by the third year and early predictions of people that follow the American Athletic Conference put the Mustangs as a nine or 10-win team next year.
Yeah, he was 14-22 over three years at SMU and many of The Great Unwashed will throw that around as justification that this is not a good hire.
The coach he compares most to in Razorback history is Ken Hatfield, who became the winningest coach ever at Arkansas. He did it with good athletes. Some were great, but there were a lot of good ones.
In Hatfield’s first three years at Air Force, he was 14-21-1. His fourth year was 10-2 before coming back to Fayetteville.
By all accounts from those who know him well, Morris is a great recruiter and, more importantly, he’s a winner.
In his career he has shown a willingness to completely change his approach if it means winning. When he took over at Stephenville a couple of years after Art Briles left, he was a Power-I coach.
That wasn’t working, so he got interested watching Darren McFadden in the Wildcat, spent a lot of time with Gus Malzahn and came up with a spread offense that evolved into what is called the “smashmouth spread.”
It’s similar in many respects to what Malzahn’s offense is and includes a passing game that will evoke memories of some things Bobby Petrino did at Arkansas from 2008-11.
The guess here is he will win.
We’ve been told he has a defensive coordinator lined up that’s going to be a familiar name and will be surprising.
And, no, I have no idea who that might be. I could spitball some names but honestly there’s nothing known about any of them.
From everyone I’ve talked to in several states, this is a coach that is universally respected by high school coaches and others across the spectrum. Not one negative comment, which is highly unusual.
That’s one nice change we haven’t seen around here in about a decade. Let’s face it, both Petrino and Bielema had issues with some high school coaches, particularly in Texas where the Hogs’ recruiting has tailed off badly over the last decade or so.
Chad Morris is, simply, a winner.