Bobby Petrino Is Out, Now Where Does Jeff Long Turn For A Razorback Coach?

by Chris Bahn  on Wednesday, Apr. 11, 2012 8:06 am  

Would former Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee be a candidate for the opening created by Bobby Petrino's firing? (Photo by Mark Wagner)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett has his pick of who should replace Bobby Petrino as coach. And Mallett wasn’t shy about offering an endorsement.

Mallett used social media site Twitter to offer his support of Alabama-Birmingham Coach Garrick McGee, the school’s former offensive coordinator. McGee was with the Razorbacks four seasons under Petrino, including two as offensive coordinator.

“GM only coach Ark should look at if they wanna win now,” the New England Patriots quarterback tweeted at about 7:57 p.m.

Mallett felt compelled to clarify his “GM” tweet was intended for McGee shortly after posting it.

Why the clarification? Because another hot name circulating carries the initials “GM” as well.

Arkansas State Coach Gus Malzahn was mentioned by national writers as a potential hire before the opening even existed. Malzahn, a former high school coach in the state, served a season as the Arkansas offensive coordinator and oversaw high-powered offenses at Tulsa and Auburn.

A source close to Malzahn confirmed there is little chance of him being a candidate at this time.

Asked about the situation last week after practice, McGee said UA leadership would make the right decision. His answer was interpreted by some as a coach positioning himself for a call if the job opened.

“It is an unfortunate situation for everybody involved,” McGee said. “In these types of situations, crisis like this, true leadership takes charge. I’m convinced that they have really good leadership within the university, from top down, all the way to the locker room with Tyler Wilson, Knile Davis and Cobi Hamilton and those guys. I trust the leadership of the university to make the right and proper decisions to keep the program on top, where they are now.”

Other names that have been mentioned as possibilities because of ties to Arkansas: Butch Davis, formerly of North Carolina; Skip Holtz, South Florida; Charlie Strong, Louisville; Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech. Dave Wannstedt, the defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills was hired by Long at Pitt. Iowa State Coach Paul Rhoads was the defensive coordinator at Pitt when Long was the AD there.

Before finding a full-time replacement, the Razorbacks will go through the spring with Taver Johnson as assistant head coach. Johnson, defensive coordinator Paul Haynes and offensive coordinator Paul Petrino will all be considered if the Razorbacks go through the fall with an interim coach.

“We’ll have to conduct a search and determine if we can attract a head coach who can lead this program,” Long said. “If not, then we will go with an interim, then do a search following the season.”

Arkansas should be an attractive job for outsiders, although the timing is not in Long’s favor. Otherwise there are elements that make it a job worth considering.

Under Bobby Petrino the team was positioned to begin the season in the Top 10. Starters back from last year’s 11-2 Cotton Bowl winner include a pair of Heisman Trophy candidates in quarterback Wilson and running back Davis.

Plus, Long has shown a willingness to invest in the football program. Petrino was earning $3.56 million per year and the athletic department had invested in upgrades for the program, the biggest being a $40 million football operations center that is under construction.

“Well I think certainly the success our young people have had on the field is a great factor in that,” Long said. “I think the decisions that we've made through our football program by upgrading video technology and those kinds of things, upgrading the football stadium with new artificial surface and then our football center we're building now will all make the job more attractive than it maybe was when Coach Petrino took the job.”

 

 

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