Arkansas AD Jeff Long gave new assistant head coach Taver Johnson control of the Razorback football program through spring practice. On Saturday, spring drills concluded in Fayetteville. Today, Hog assistants are hitting the road for the spring evaluation period.
But Long has yet to announce who’ll be leading UA from here.
Johnson told ArkansasNews.com on Saturday that he would “have a 6 a.m. flight and I’ll be on it,” when it comes to luring in new players. But what will he and others say when asked, “Are you coaching us?”
Long needs to make his call. Soon. He said last week that his decision would come in “days, not weeks.” One report suggested that pick could be made official today. Good.
From the start we’ve said that the best bet for Arkansas this season and beyond is for Long to simply promote a current member of a veteran coaching staff to the title of interim coach for the 2012 season. No fuss, no muss, no players-getting-to-know-new-coaches, no issues with an outside interim coming in and running the show over a group of aides who already know how to work together. Best of all, Long would be able to spend the next few months targeting the right man for the job long-term. And the pool of candidates willing to move in December would be greater than the pool of candidates who would be willing to move now, as well.
The fact that Long has dragged out his interim selection so long suggests that he didn’t agree with our advice. If he had, he’d have tabbed Johnson or Tim Horton or Paul Petrino as his guy two weeks ago. Instead, it’s been rumored he’s talked to everyone from Phillip Fulmer (as an interim candidate) to Pete Carroll (as a full-time candidate).
If and when he promotes someone from within — be it today or tomorrow or later this week — there will be little doubt that he’s done his homework. That’s a positive.
But sending his coaches out on the recruiting trail without a plan just yet? That’s a negative. That will only help to add to the perception in some kids’ and parents’ minds that UA is a rudderless ship at the moment.
Long needs to make a call. Quickly. And he needs to make the call we suggested when he first gave Bobby Petrino the hook.
An interim from within for now. A solid, smart search for eight months. And a darn good hire come November or December.