FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas’ Hunter Yurachek is busy finding the next head football coach.
This could be one of the most important hires in the history of the program. Yes the program has gone through two tough years (OK, minus two games) with Chad Morris. And that’s a shame because Morris knew what Arkansas needed in terms of recruiting and need to sign more speed. Barry Lunney Jr. was very correct in saying that Morris’ recruiting philosophy should continue.
“I think it starts there understanding the history and heritage of the program,” Lunney said. “I think one of the things that is key is recruiting footprint and I think Chad had a good plan for that. I think somebody could piggyback on that and use that as a springboard to continue that emphasis.”
The importance of this hire though goes much deeper than the past two years. Since the Hogs went 21-5 overall and 12-4 in the SEC Bobby Petrino’s last two years they have fallen on hard times. Arkansas is 13-49 in SEC games since Petrino was fired. In that, Bret Bielema went 8-5 overall and 5-3 in the SEC in 2015. Outside of that Arkansas has had a losing record in SEC games each season.
So while it’s easy to pile on Morris the truth is this program was in bad shape when he got here and then remained that way under him. Bad hires by Jeff Long and then another by Julie Cromer Peoples has made this Yurachek hire one that he can’t miss on.
That is dangerous territory considering that can’t-miss coaches aren’t out there for most part. But it doesn’t have to be a no-brainer hire to be a great one.
Just look at the hire of Eric Musselman to coach the basketball team. Yes it’s early and he’s undefeated so everyone loves him. But when one takes a step back, looks at the big picture of he is closing in on landing all five in-state prospects he offered, and sees how the team is playing fundamentally sound basketball does anyone not think he will turn out to be a great hire?
My point is when he was hired he wasn’t the big-name coach some wanted and he wasn’t from Arkansas. But guess what, he came in and worked from behind on most of the five in-state prospects and appears to have won them over. Believe me when he was hired he entered the chase for some in that group as the underdog.
But what Musselman did he surrounded himself with a great staff. He got OU’s best recruiter who signed Trae Young and Buddy Hield among others, got the former head coach from Stetson who was a teammate of Michael Jordan in the NBA and then hired an assistant from the Los Angeles Lakers who had coached Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and others. So Musselman got what it requires to win and recruit to Arkansas.
Yurachek hired him and now he has to do the same for the football program. Also, it will be maybe even more important for the coach who is hired to surround himself with a high-quality staff.
It won’t be cheap. The right coach with great assistants will come with a price tag. But the donations, butts in the seats and fan interest in general will increase dramatically with the right hire.
This columm isn’t to say Yurachek shouldn’t hire someone from Arkansas, but only to point out one doesn’t have to be from the state to understand it. Razorback Football depends on Yurachek to get this hire right. Here’s hoping for everyone’s sake he does just that whether it’s someone from the state or outside of it.