You can add another name to the list of Arkansas candidates. We reported in late-October that our sources had indicated that Gary Patterson topped AD Jeff Long’s wish list. Then came reports that Jon Gruden was Arkansas’ man.
But as both of those coaches have — reportedly — failed to reach an agreement with the Razorbacks, the name of Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is now making the rounds. Yesterday, ESPN.com’s Chris Low claimed on Bo Mattingly’s syndicated Arkansas radio show that the Hogs had reached out to Franklin. According to ArkansasNews.com, it’s “not known if the coach is listening to the Razorbacks.”
Long has suggested that he wants to have Arkansas’ search wrapped up by mid-December, but UA fans are starting to grow impatient. The Hog’s AD chose John L. Smith to be an interim coach in 2012 in order to give himself more time to research potential full-time hires. While things are seldom as they seem when it comes to coaching searches — note the various rumors/reports regarding Gruden at both Arkansas and Tennessee — perception still matters.
Fans want searches to go quickly and they want big-name results. If there’s any suggestion that a school is struggling to land it’s first or second choice, panic ensues. And we begin to get emails from angry fans of that school asking what the heck is taking so long. Well this week we’re starting to get those types of emails from Razorback fans.
In reality, Long needs to take his time and find the right man to move Arkansas forward. But if he wants to keep fans who are already angry over a 4-7 season off his back, he might want to slightly press down on the accelerator. He’s had a seven-month head start on other schools and their athletic directors and Hog fans know it. If Arkansas winds up with its sixth choice in late-December, Long will hear about it.
As for Franklin, there’s no question that Arkansas is traditionally-speaking a better job than Vanderbilt. But not all coaches are motivated to rapidly move up the coaching ladder. Chris Petersen has stayed put at Boise State despite interest from darn near every major program in the country. If TCU’s Patterson chooses not to pursue or accept the Arkansas job — and we believe his reps have absolutely had talks with the school — then he, too, will have chosen to stay in his own safety zone despite having many chances to move “up.”
Whether or not Franklin wants to move “up” from Vanderbilt and to do so after just two years in Nashville is the great question in all of this.
Well, that and “When’s Long finally gonna hire somebody?!?!”