FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — It appears Arkansas is closing in on finding Chad Morris’ replacement.
Hunter Yurachek and Jon Fagg apparently have done a similar job with the football search that they did with the basketball if the sources are correct on how this likely ends.
The last Hot Board on Nov. 12 had a lot of names on it because Arkansas wanted to make sure they found the right coach this time. Here’s possibly the last Hot Board that will be needed because as noted it appears Arkansas has its targets narrowed considerably.
Matt Campbell, Head Coach Iowa State
Has been a head coach since 2011. He owns a record of 62-38 at Toledo and Iowa State. He has a 3-2 bowl record. Campbell’s best season was 2015 when he led Toledo to a 10-2 mark including a 16-12 upset of Arkansas in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium. Following that season, Campbell left for Iowa State. He has gone 3-9 (2016), 8-5 (2017), 8-5 (2018) and is 7-4 this season. They will finish the regular season on Saturday night in Manhattan against Kansas State at 6 p.m. on FS1. The losses have been to Iowa 18-17, Baylor 23-21, Oklahoma State 34-27 and Oklahoma 42-41. Among the victories is a 23-21 thriller over Texas. Campbell was the MAC Coach of the Year in 2015 and then Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2017 and 2018. Campbell is making $3.5 million and has a $6 million buyout on his contract. Campbell will turn 40 on Friday having been born on Nov. 29, 1979.
Lane Kiffin, Head Coach Florida Atlantic University
Meets the criteria of being a head coach at various levels. Kiffin has been the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee, USC and FAU. His current team is 8-3 and will host Southern Miss on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (CT) in Boca Raton and televised on the NFL Network. A win will send the Owls to the Conference USA Championship Game as East champions. If hired by Arkansas before then he might not coach beyond Saturday. He is 24-13 in his third year at the school. He went 11-3 in 2017 and 5-7 in 2018 prior to this season. Kiffin was 5-15 as head coach the Raiders in 2007-08. He was fired in 2008 when the team started 1-3. He coached Tennessee in 2009 going 7-6 including 4-4 in the SEC. Following that season, Kiffin left to become the head coach at USC. He was 28-15 heading the Trojans including 10-2 in 2011. He started the 2013 season 3-2, but was fired on Sept. 29. He served as offensive coordinator and coached the quarterbacks for Nick Saban from 2014-16. Kiffin has a reputation of changing jobs, but he was fired in Oakland and USC. The only other two moves he has made are ones most coaches would make. He left Tennessee for USC. Then he opted to take the head coaching job at FAU over being a coordinator for the Tide. Kiffin was born on May 9, 1975 (age 44). He was extremely young but lived in Fayetteville from 1977-79 as his dad worked for Lou Holtz. Kiffin is earning $1,432,000 per season with the Owls and has a $1.5 million buyout.
Mike Leach, Head Coach Washington State
No one teaches offense and develops quarterbacks like Mike Leach. What has always made him attractive to Arkansas and others beyond the offense is he has won at two difficult places similar to Fayetteville. Leach was 84-43 at Texas Tech from 2000-09 taking them to 10 bowl games. His best season was 2008 when he led the Red Raiders to an 11-2 mark. He became head coach at Washington State in 2012 and is 55-45. His best season was 2018 when they finished 11-2. His team is currently 6-5 and will face Washington on Friday at 3 p.m. (CT) and televised on Fox. Leach’s eight teams at Washington State will have gone to six bowls. That means he has led his teams to 16 bowl games in 18 seasons. Leach was born on March 9, 1961 (58). He served as offensive coordinator for Bob Stoops at Oklahoma in 1999 and impressed Barry Switzer enough that he endorsed him for the Arkansas job. Switzer is a former Razorback. Leach was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Kentucky in 1997-98. He is making $3.75 million this season. That will bump to $4 million next season and if he stays with Washington State through the 2020 season he will get a one-time retention bonus of $750,000. Leach’s buyout is in the $4.9 million range.
The names of Gus Malzahn if he is fired at Auburn and Butch Davis at Florida International University are out there, but right now the feeling here is the coach will be one of the above three.