During his visit to the Little Rock Touchdown Club, Gus Malzahn talked about life as a Division One head football coach. He said it was one of the few professions where you are given about 24 hours to make a life changing decision.
What doesn't look like the right move one week can look very attractive a week later.
It's Malzahn's opinion - and he should know - that coaching decisions aren't made weeks or months before the announcement. I heard from a good source, a high school coach I trust, that Malzahn wasn't even considering the ASU job until the final days before he was announced as the Red Wolves next coach. Bobby Petrino, Houston Nutt and Nolan Richardson were also final hour hires.
Have the Hogs reached out to Jon Gruden? I say yes.
Gruden's golfing buddy, John Daly, got the Gruden ball rolling when he called in to the "Show With No Name" on 103.7 The Buzz. Daly said he was going to do all he could to get Gruden to Arkansas. He also indicated that Gruden had already met with Jeff Long.
Two days later, a CBS insider said that Gruden was looking at the possibility of getting back into coaching and he mentioned Arkansas and Tennessee as possible college destinations. If Gruden wasn't in play, Long should have found a way (contact Wally Hall) to end the Gruden talk.
In a search that's lasted so long and is so important, the last thing you want to do is mislead your fanbase.
If Gruden is a grand slam hire, TCU's Gary Patterson and Boise State's Chris Peterson are probably considered home run hires.
So far, the talk in this search has shifted from Butch Davis to Patterson to Gruden to Peterson. By the number of text messages I received Friday night, I thought Peterson would be on his way to Fayetteville this weekend. That didn't happen.
Is Peterson, who's spent just about all his career out West, ready to move to the SEC? I don't know. Some believe the University of California may be a better fit for Peterson.
I guess you can call the next three coaches the second tier guys: Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State, James Franklin of Vanderbilt and Charlie Strong of Louisviille. Gundy has done big things at Oklahoma State; James Franklin is making miracles happen at Vandy; and Strong has Louisville rolling.
Gundy's overtime loss to Oklahoma might help the Hogs, if indeed they are thinking Gundy. Franklin should have options - Tennessee, Auburn or Arkansas. You would think all three would be interested in Franklin. As for Strong, he has the Arkansas and SEC ties but doesn't seem interested in leaving Louisville.
The level three guys: Art Briles of Baylor, Sonny Dykes of Louisiana Tech and Alabama's Kirby Smart. Briles has done a solid job at both Houston and Baylor; a guy who loves wide open offenses and can recruit Texas. Dykes has turned La Tech into an offensive juggernaut and could also recruit Texas. And if Long is thinking at all about assistant coaches, Smart (the 2012 Broyles Award winner) is the best option.
If Long has to go to level four, Hog fans won't be thrilled. Butch Jones at Cincinnati, Mike Macintire of San Jose State, Dave Doeren at Northern Illinois, Mark Hudspeth of Louisiana-Lafayette and Willie Taggert of Western Kentucky. All five are ready to make a jump; how high they'll go is anyone's guess.
I have no idea who will end up in Fayetteville. I think they have the dollars necessary to hit a home run, but I wouldn't be shocked to see them end up with a level 3 or 4 guy.
I do know that I'm ready for this search to end. History tells me that we'll get about 24 hours notice.
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