FAYETTEVILLE — It appears that Lane Kiffin will leave Florida Atlantic for Ole Miss following today’s Conference USA Championship Game.
He was thought to be the leader in the hunt to replace Chad Morris, fired Nov. 10, at Arkansas. But with him apparently out of the picture here’s a brief look at six coaches the Hogs could turn to. Of the six, four are coaching in conference championship games today.
Barry Lunney Jr., Interim Head Coach Arkansas
Lunney, 45, took over for Morris and coached the team the final three weeks of the regular season. They lost to LSU in Baton Rouge and Missouri at War Memorial Stadium. Lunney did get the team to play hard and give good effort. As seemingly is Arkansas’ luck in recent years, the Razorbacks were severely hampered against Missouri when a mump’s outbreak hit the campus. Arkansas was missing eight players that Friday with mumps. Lunney certainly knows what it’s like to be a Razorback since he played for them, has been a grad assistant and then was added to Bret Bielema’s staff to coach tight ends. He also has coached special teams with the Hogs and then obviously interim head coach. He has coached at Tulsa, San Jose State and Bentonville High School as well. If hired, it will be interesting what kind of staff Lunney can attract. One would have to wonder if maybe he tries to get Rhett Lashlee away from SMU to be offensive coordinator?
Jim McElwain, Head Coach Central Michigan
McElwain, 57, has SEC experience being at Florida for two full years and then seven games his third season. McElwain went 10-4, 9-4 and 3-4 with the Gators from 2015-17. Prior to that he was at Colorado State from 2012-14. He went 22-15 there including 10-2 in 2014. He took over a Central Michigan program that was 1-11 in 2018. He has them at 8-4 in his first year. He led his team to the West title in the Mid-American Conference. They take on Miami (Ohio) 7-5 in the title game today at 11 a.m. on ESPN2. The issue some had with McElwain at Florida was his offenses struggled at times.
Billy Napier, Head Coach Louisiana
Napier, 40, is a former Alabama assistant who is 17-9 at Louisiana. He was 7-7 in his first season there in 2018 and has rebounded to 10-2 this season. Louisiana will take on Appalachian State today at 11 a.m. in the Sun Belt Conference Championship Game. Napier is from Georgia and attended Furman. In addition to the Crimson Tide, Napier has been an assistant at Clemson, Arizona State and Colorado State in addition to others. He is considered a good recruiter and has spent a lot of time in Arkansas while at Alabama.
Eliah Drinkwitz, Head Coach at Appalachian State
Drinkwitz, 36, is an Arkansas Tech graduate and has coached at various high schools in the state. He is in his first year as a head coach at the collegiate level, but has made the most of it. His team is 11-1 and faces Napier’s squad today at 11 a.m. for the title in the Sun Belt. Among the 11 wins this season were victories over North Carolina and South Carolina. He took over a team that was already in great shape, but has certainly maintained it and has it at a high level.
Bryan Harsin, Head Coach at Boise State
Harsin, 43, has done an outstanding job at Boise State which is his alma mater. Would he consider leaving there for another job? The money is very good there and he has them in the Mountain West Championship Game today at 3 p.m. today against Hawai’i on ESPN. Harsin was 7-5 at Arkansas State in 2013. He then left for his alma mater where he is 63-16 in six years. He has led them to 12-2, 9-4, 10-3, 11-3, 10-3 and 11-1 in six years. They have finished ranked in the Top 25 three times and have a great shot at it again this season. He was co-offensive coordinator and coached quarterbacks at Texas in 2011-12.
Butch Davis, Head Coach at Florida International
Davis, 68, is a former Arkansas defensive end. He has been a head coach with the Cleveland Browns and then head coach at North Carolina, Miami (Fla.) and now FIU. He is 23-15 in his third year with FIU. They are 6-6 this season after previous records of 8-5 and 9-4. He was 51-20 at Miami from 1995-2000. His official record at North Carolina is only 12-23 from 2007-10 because of an academic issue that forced them to have to vacate several wins. He was 24-35 with the Browns from 2001-04. Davis has some support for the job, but it’s not certain that Hunter Yurachek will go in this direction.