Arkansas only has three games left in the season in what could be the toughest stretch of 2012 with all three being against top twenty opponents. You can barely tell, though, as the talk around the state has shifted to who will be the next head Hog. As always with coaching talk, everyone has a source. New names are thrown out almost daily, and rumors flow through message boards like booze at a LSU tailgate party. Here are looks at a few the names being mentioned.
Coach: Gary Patterson
Home State: Kansas
Current School: Texas Christian University
2012 Record: 6-3
All time as HC: 115-33 Bowls: 7-4
2012 Remaining games: Kansas State, @Texas, Oklahoma
Thoughts: Gary Patterson is likely number one on most Hog fans wish list. He is an accomplished head coach and has the Texas recruiting ties that most Razorback fans see as a must. Patterson is a defense guy, however, which would be a change from the last four years. He seems content on hiring good offensive coordinators and let them handle the load on that side of the ball. Rumor has it that he and his wife are well entrenched in Fort Worth and could be hard to pull away.
Rumors are swirling from Bo Mattingly today:
Bo Mattingly @SportsTalkwBo 11:02 a.m. 9 Nov 2012
Not saying it’s a done deal, but have heard multiple things today that make me believe Gary Patterson will be the next coach at Arkansas.
Coach: Charlie Strong
Home State: Arkansas
Current School: University of Louisville
2012 Record: 9-0
All time as HC: 22-13 Bowls: 1-2
2012 Remaining games: @Syracuse, Connecticut, @Rutgers
Thoughts: Strong will likely find himself on top of several athletic directors’ lists this season. The attention is well deserved. After making a name for himself winning two national titles as Florida’s DC, Strong has the Cardinals playing great football. He has said more than once now he has no desire to leave Louisville. The Louisville AD has also been quoted as saying they would match any offer made to Strong. Maybe returning to his home state would be the pull that could make Strong leave Louisville.
Coach: Mike Gundy
Home State: Oklahoma
Current School: Oklahoma State University
2012 Record: 5-3
All time as HC: 64-32 Bowls: 4-2
2012 Remaining games: Texas Tech, @Oklahoma, @Baylor
Thoughts: Gundy is a man, and at least at one point was 40. Besides being the creator of one of the all-time greatest coaching rants ever, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoMmbUmKN0E) Gundy has made OSU an offensive beast. He would be a good bet to help keep the offense of the Hogs up and rolling. However, he seems an odd candidate after just agreeing to a new contract at OSU in January. A deal that includes a $3 million buyout. Smoke coming out of Stillwater suggests that Gundy and wealthy OSU benefactor T. Boone Pickens don’t see eye to eye. Whether it’s true or not, Gundy could be a coach to keep an eye on.
Coach: Butch Davis
Home state: Oklahoma
Current School: N/A
2012 Record: N/A
All time as HC: 63-42 Bowls: 1-1
2012 Remaining games: N/A
Thoughts: This Oklahoma native is one of the few coaches on the list that is not currently a head coach. His last tenure ended fairly ugly at the University of North Carolina with the NCCA handing out sanctions. With two players being banned from NCAA play altogether. Although Davis was cleared of wrong doing and looks to have not been involved, the NCAA violations may be more than the Arkansas wants to deal with. However, Davis did put winning products on the field at both UNC and Miami.
Coach: Tommy Tuberville
Home state: Arkansas
Current School: Texas Tech
2012 Record: 6-3
All time as HC: 129-74 Bowls: 7-3
2012 Remaining games: Kansas, @OSU, Baylor (Cowboys Stadium)
Thoughts: Tuberville is another homegrown talent that is likely under consideration. He took over the reins in Lubbock in 2010 and has the Red Raiders back on track after a disappointing 2011 campaign. Arkansas fans would know what they are getting with Tuberville after watching him for years while head coach at Auburn. He would be a good candidate to help shore up the issues on the defensive side of the ball while he has also recruited and fielded some great offensive back fields at Auburn. This would also mark the second or third time that Arkansas and Tuberville have flirted with each other, and maybe 2012 is the year he becomes the head Hog.
Coach: Paul Rhoads
Home state: Iowa
Current School: Iowa State University
2012 Record: 5-4
All time as HC: 23-23 Bowls: 1-1
2012 Remaining games: @Texas, @Kansas, West Virginia
Thoughts: Paul Rhoads is not the name most Hogs fans want to hear. Nonetheless, Rhoads could be more of candidate than people want to believe. If other coaches turn Jeff Long down, Rhoads could get a call. Four years ago calls went to Terry Bowden and even Mike Grobe accepted the Arkansas job before Long turned to Bobby Petrino. Many people think Rhoads is building a strong program at Iowa State, which is no small feat. He is another defensive guy, so a strong Offensive Coordinator would be a must.
Coach: James Franklin
Home state: Pennsylvania
Current School: Vanderbilt University
2012 Record: 5-4
All time as HC: 11-11 Bowls: 0-1
2012 Remaining games: @Ole Miss, Tennessee, Wake Forest
Thoughts: Franklin has done something many thought not possible. That’s make other SEC teams think twice about Vandy. He put together a very strong recruiting class last year (another thing not easy to do at Vandy) and the results are being seen on the field. If they finish the season strong they can get to eight wins. Eight wins would mean back to back bowls games at Vanderbilt. With success of that level, AD’s in the hunt for coaches will take notice of Franklin. That will likely include Jeff Long.
Obviously, Jeff Long’s list may include more names than the ones included here. The one name fans like to say more than any isn’t even on it. Jon Gruden is the end all, be all to some. It’s more logical that Gruden will be either coaching the Dallas Cowboys or back on Monday Night Football next season rather than coaching the Hogs. With that being said, he would for sure fit the mantra of “Homerun Hire.” Of course all of this just for fun speculation. If Jeff Long has shown anything in his time here, it is his ability to play things close to the vest. It would not be surprising at all that when the new coach is announced, the coaches’ name will not have been on any list.
Rex Crane is a new blogger on Hog Database. He is an avid fan of all things college football, Arkansas Razorback athletics and St. Louis Cardinals Baseball. Rex will bring a real world view to the happenings around Razorback sports. You can follow Rex on twitter: @hogsncards