Silly season is in full swing and this time Arkansas is right in the middle of it.
For better or worse.
It is likely for the Razorbacks it will include more than just the football coach.
Could athletics director Jeff Long (sorry, Jeffrey, but all that other grandiose title is too long to type and this parenthetical aside is probably shorter) be gone before New Year’s?
There are some that believe that could be the case.
It’s also likely when whoever fires Bret Bielema gets around to doing it (and every day they wait it is just prolonging the tortuous rumor mill) that Long won’t be included in choosing the next coach, even if he’s still hanging around.
And he shouldn’t be. It’s likely he knows the ball is blown up and not stuffed, but walking into Bud Walton Arena on Sunday holding a soda can that is NOT the official soft drink supplier of Razorback athletics indicates even that may be in doubt with some.
Which leads to the latest drama that brings two familiar names into the discussion for both jobs. Granted, they are not open right now but it won’t be surprising if one is vacant before the Thanksgiving turkey is gone and the other before the Christmas tree is taken down.
Could one Houston Dale Nutt be the next Hogs’ athletic director?
And — wait for it — Gus Malzahn as the new football coach?
Now THAT is one scenario nobody saw coming.
When I floated it to one former SEC coach Monday evening, his answer actually surprised me.
“That’s probably not a bad combination when you stop and think about it,” he said.
Now, let’s be clear: This is not a prediction, but a possible scenario based on names discussed for both positions.
When Malzahn was Nutt’s offensive coordinator in 2006 there was high drama all over the place.
To this day I don’t know if they hated each other, tolerated each other, respected each other or handled things in a professional manner.
Somehow the limited knowledge I have of both tells me they weren’t having fistfights in offices. Anything short of that is not completely uncommon with winning football teams.
Besides, neither would actually be dealing with the other on a day-to-day basis.
Despite what most people think very few former football coaches-turned-athletic director actually do much more than visit with the coach weekly or so just to talk about, well, football.
That’s kinda what even ex-coaches tend to do. Oh, a lot gets made of an ex-coach diagramming a play for his current coach but ex-coaches tend to do that, too, when they get together.
Darrell Royal once sat in a cafeteria in Austin, Texas, explaining to a young reporter the Wishbone offense and how it had advanced using salt shakers, sugar cannisters, ketchup bottles, steak sauce bottles and anything else handy, including napkins, waitresses’ pens and other things.
He hadn’t coached a game in more than 10 years, but he was convinced it would still work.
Both know Arkansas well. They both grew up here. They both played for the Razorbacks, then transferred to other schools. They both coached against the Razorbacks while at other SEC schools.
Nutt actually would probably be a better fit as Arkansas’ athletic director than Long has been for the last 10 years.
Some won’t like it, but then there were some that absolutely hated Frank Broyles. I know. I fielded phone calls and read the letters and, later, e-mails about him for 40 years.
As for Gus, one thing is for certain: Coaching the Razorbacks is something that is one of two ultimate destination jobs for him.
While some will say Gus would never leave Auburn, others say that is like one of those dysfunctional families in a Hollywood comedy.
I mean you’ve got the uncle that used to be rich but now just has a lot of money and still thinks he owns the place, then there’s the drunk uncle who still thinks he’s relevant.
Leaving that mess on The Plains wouldn’t surprise a lot of people.
Especially to come home.
His family is still in Fort Smith. He knows Arkansas high schools and where East Texas is located. That’s important because the last two head coaches were not especially welcome at a lot of places there (some assistants, yes, but we’re talking the head coach here) and until the Hogs start getting players from there it’s hard to see a path back to prosperity.
What’s Gus’ other dream job? Coaching the Dallas Cowboys.
There is kind of a connection there.
But, make no mistake about it, it would be interesting.