Arkansas’ Coaching Search Tidbits

Pig Trail Nation

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The first week of Arkansas’ search for a replacement for Chad Morris is winding down and several names are being tossed around.

It’s still early to know who might have the inside track. While there’s no candidate who when initially hired is going to please everyone there’s still some very good coaches out there. While some might say no, Hunter Yurachek only needs one to say yes.

Here’s some interesting tidbits concerning some of the candidates being mentioned for the job.

Lane Kiffin’s Staff — The Florida Atlantic head coach has some interesting names on his staff. Jeff Norrid is a Fort Smith Southside graduate who has coached under Houston Nutt, Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn in various capacities. He’s coaching the offensive line for Kiffin. He is a graduate from the University of Arkansas. Was part of the Razorback staff for seven seasons, first as a student assistant coach (2003-04) and then as an offensive graduate assistant. Norrid focused upon the development of the offensive line and tight ends while working as a quality control assistant with special teams. When not helping the offensive coordinator with practice and game plan development, he played a role in recruiting all junior college prospects as well as the states of Arkansas and Alabama and North Texas. 

Kiffin also has former Alabama assistant Lance Thompson who coaches the defensive line and serves as recruiting coordinator. Thompson is considered one of the greatest recruiters in college football. He was a member of national championship staffs at Alabama, Georgia Tech and LSU, Thompson has been a member of four SEC championship coaching staffs, two ACC championship staffs and one Conference USA divisional winner. He has either coached or recruited players who have participated in eight National Championship games, winning seven of those contests (Georgia Tech, LSU twice and Alabama four times).

Charlie Weis Jr. is the offensive coordinator and coaches quarterbacks for Kiffin. He is the son of NFL and college head coach Charlie Weis. Weis returned to the Owls nearly a year after his departure. His return brings a wealth of knowledge to the staff after being a part of three Power Five staffs and working with two NFL teams. He also reunites with Kiffin after working with him as an offensive analyst at Alabama.

Needs To Be Added To List

Hearing that Baylor head coach Matt Rhule needs to be added to the list of potential candidates on and Pig Trail Nation. Rhule wasn’t on the initial boards because it was just generally assumed he wouldn’t be interested in Arkansas. It seems more likely Rhule could end up in the NFL (Washington Redskins?) or if James Franklin left for USC then at Penn State. But sources indicate that Rhule might have some interest in the Hogs job. Baylor is undefeated this season under Rhule. They host Oklahoma this Saturday in Waco and then Texas the following weekend. They close out the season with a road trip to play Kansas. Chances are they aren’t undefeated after that stretch of games, but then again who thought they were going to win at Stillwater (Oklahoma State), Fort Worth (TCU) and Manhattan (Kansas State)? Among the teams they have already beaten in Waco are Iowa State, Texas Tech and West Virginia. Rhule knows how to win close games that has been his secret to success so far. That is something that has been missing at Arkansas for several seasons.

Speaking Of Interesting Names — Mike Leach is emerging as a candidate with the Hogs. Leach would be an interesting choice, but would need to make sure he was able to lure a top defensive coordinator to Fayetteville. Alex Grinch, who is now at Oklahoma, served in that role for Leach from 2015-17 at Washington State. Leach, Grinch and Washington State was 26-13 in those three years. An interesting name on Leach’s staff is Steve Spurrier Jr. who coaches the outside receivers. The younger Spurrier has vast college experience along with NFL time. He spent two seasons as wide receivers coach in the NFL with the Washington Redskins (2002-03) where he coached Laveranues Coles to a 2003 Pro Bowl season with 82 receptions for 1,204 yards.


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