I’ve followed Rex Crane in another forum for sometime now and met up with him last week in Little Rock. He’s a very knowledgeable Arkansas Razorbacks Football and College Football Fan and will hopefully bring much to the table. This is a great start for his first blog entry ever! PLEASE WELCOME REX CRANE!! — Sharp Williams
Competition for the Hogs Won’t End on November 23rd
By Rex Crane
After Jeff Long decided to relieve Bobby Petrino of his duties as the Razorback head football coach, he had another big decision to make. Should he hire a permanent coach right away or hire an interim coach to get through the 2012 season. Obviously, Mr. Long now famously chose the latter and brought in John L. Smith on a ten-month contract. It has been a general consensus that to bring in a new permanent hire in April was not a real option. Given that most desirable coaches were likely currently employed and wouldn’t be willing to walk away from their current school so close to a season. That being true or not, we may never fully know.
What we do know however, is that as the football season progresses and the losses add up for some SEC programs. Jeff Long will find some stiff competition on the coach hunt, as there are some schools in the SEC that will almost certainly be searching for someone new to pace their sidelines come next fall.
Even with the recent vote of confidence from Auburn power man Pat Dye, Gene Chizik is in real trouble. Getting drummed at home by new SEC member Texas A&M 63-21 and staring 0-8 in the SEC in the face will surely have the Auburn boosters signing checks and getting their planes ready. Chizik won’t walk away empty-handed, however. The Auburn powers that be saw fit to give him a $10 million buyout clause to his contract after their National Championship season. Luckily for the Tigers, that buyout lowers monthly and will stand at $7.5 million in December of this year. If Auburn chooses to make a change, the $3 million plus salary that Auburn could be looking to pay a new coach would make them one of the top competitors for coaching talent with Arkansas.
A large number of Tennessee Volunteer fans have already convinced themselves a certain Monday Night Football commentator will be wearing orange pants on their sideline come next fall. Gruden rumors are becoming almost as common in the SEC as 11am kickoffs are for the Razorbacks. However, the Volunteers will have to give up a big chunk of money just to have an opportunity for their dreams come true. Their current coach Derek Dooley has buyout reportedly around $5.6 million (and could run over $9 million including his assistants). Will Tennessee who is 14-19 overall and 4-17 in the SEC under Dooley be ready to part with that kind of money? Arkansas fans should be hoping that they won’t be. Having both Tennessee and Auburn looking for coaches at the same time as the Hogs will only make Long’s job that much more difficult.
Auburn and Tennessee are not the only SEC schools likely to make a change. It’s almost a forgone conclusion that Kentucky will part ways with Joker Phillips. Phillips is in his third year as the head Wildcat and although his team has been riddled with injuries all season, it seems that excuse might be falling on deaf ears in the Bluegrass State. From an Arkansas standpoint it would make sense that Kentucky and Arkansas would be in different ballparks when it comes to pay scale for possible replacements. Phillips currently earns a little over $1 million. However, Kentucky could very well be one more school on the hunt at the same time as the Hogs.
There is no doubt that come December the coaching carousel will begin in earnest and there will likely be more schools added to the list of those looking for new head coaches. If experience tells us anything there will be a surprise or two on the list as well (Looking at you Texas). Hog fans can only hope that Longs decision to wait till December to find a new coach pays off, and all the added competition doesn’t send the Razorbacks scrambling to find the next head Hog before the options are more limited than they were in April, if they aren’t already.