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Andy Hodges

Yurachek might take a few days, which could be good this time of year

Hunter Yurachek doesn’t have to hit an immediate home run hiring a new basketball coach but he does have to get in scoring position almost immediately.



For fans wanting to know right now who the next basketball coach will be at Arkansas might want to take a deep breath … and wait.

Alabama hired Buffalo coach Nate Oats on Wednesday, so one opening is filled. It wasn’t with Mike Anderson as some had speculated was going to happen. The guess here is because Crimson Tide athletic director Greg Byrne pulled the trigger that quick he already had something in place.

You wonder if Hunter Yurachek has done the same thing.

These things aren’t done like many think. Coaches don’t usually come to town until after they’ve accepted the job. It’s the school that goes to the coach. The internet’s made it possible to do all this without the visit to check things out.

And coaches aren’t going to roll into town for an interview. They don’t have to these days. It all goes through agents these days and while basketball isn’t as high profile as football it’s a very similar process.

Any coach Yurachek might want that’s still playing in the NCAA isn’t going to want that information out. They are still playing for a national championship so there’s not going to be anything approaching an announcement before they’re eliminated.

Two of the hot names being thrown around are Texas Tech’s Chris Beard and Houston’s Kelvin Sampson.

Beard is far and away the least likely. He’s at $3 million in a year in his hometown and you can quote his past statements all you want, but it’s highly doubtful he would leave Lubbock for Fayetteville.

Sampson might be a different story, however.

Yurachek knows him. He inherited Sampson when he became the Houston athletics director and reportedly the two got along fairly well.

Sampson is affordable, making considerably less than $2 million a year, which is due more to the NCAA problems he had at Oklahoma and Indiana than his abilities to recruit, develop players and win ballgames.

Sampson left Indiana for making impermissible phone calls to recruits. Because he had run afoul of NCAA rules previously at Oklahoma, Sampson was served with a five-year “show-cause” order that effectively kept him off the college sidelines until Houston hired him.

Sampson’s problems with the NCAA were for things that would now be legal, according to some, and in a world where some coaches are being arrested amounted to going to prison for a traffic ticket. There have been no charges he paid a player or gave anyone extra benefits, which is my minimum standard for cheating.

Whether it’s something Yurachek wants to deal with or not is a question for him. He may have a better option up his sleeve, but no idea from here who that would be.

Outside of those two, your guess is as good as mine. Yurachek isn’t going to ask me for a recommendation and I probably couldn’t give him one if he asked.

But he pulled the trigger on firing Mike Anderson after eight seasons, none with a losing record. Whether that was a good decision or not will only be determined by what happens over the next few seasons.

In my opinion, if Frank Broyles knew Dana Altman was going to stay for only a day and John Pelphrey would be the best they could do back in 2007, the guess here is Stan Heath would have hung around for another year or two.

Hindsight is always 20/20, especially hiring coaches. It’s easy for us to sit back a few years down the road and grade any athletic director’s hires.

Shoot, nobody criticized Jeff Long for hiring Anderson in 2011. That was supposed to be the slam-dunk guarantee for success and it turned out to be like buying a like buying a flip-phone today. You can still make calls fairly reliably, but it’s nothing to get excited about.

Yurachek has to decide on somebody now. If it takes a few days, well, so be it as that could mean he’s at least having discussions about somebody still playing for a national championship.

It’s his call to make and in a business that is by guess and by golly a lot, he’s got to hit more than a ground-rule double.

This hire doesn’t have to be an immediate home run, but it does have to land in scoring position.

If not, well, Yurachek will be the one answering questions.


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