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Hog Aides Hit The Recruiting Trail; Long Needs To Make A Call Soon

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 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.

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LSU Closes Practices Early With Oregon Game Approaching

It’s not like Les Miles was running complete wide-open practices a la Pete Carroll anyway.  But now, with a season-opener with #3 Oregon fast approaching, Miles has shut down even the first 30 minutes of practice — stretching, warm-ups, and individual drills — to the media.

According to LSU’s sports information director:

“We had too much reporting on injuries and who wasn’t at practice as opposed to what was going on during practice.  We just felt like it would be better if we went ahead and closed it a few days early.”

Miles originally planned to completely close his practices on Saturday.  But as we noted above, there’s not a whole lot of information to be gleaned from watching calisthenics… aside from who is and who isn’t taking part.  So it’s not like reporters in Baton Rouge have much to complain about.  Miles won’t let ‘em see anything worth reporting on anyway.

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Should Muschamp Have An Open Door Policy This Spring?

It’s expected that new Florida football coach Will Muschamp will lock the gates this spring and prevent fans and media from eying his team’s practices.  (Eyeing or eying is correct, by the way.)

Muschamp hasn’t announced his official plans yet, but when in doubt, it’s usually a safe bet that coaches will close practices.  They’re a paranoid lot.

Hays Carlyon of The Florida Times-Union believes closing out the fans could be a mistake:

Muschamp’s reputation is very much a work in progress with Gators fans.  After all, this is his first head-coaching job.  All they can judge Muschamp on is a recruiting class that former coach Urban Meyer largely built.

For all his tremendous accomplishments at Florida, Meyer allowed a disconnect to form between him and the fans.

He closed practices.  He limited fan access.  He stopped going to booster clubs.

Muschamp should reverse course.

And Florida fans were complaining about this “disconnect” when?  Not after national titles in 2006 and 2008.  Only when UF skidded to an 8-win season this past year.

We’re as much for open practices as the next media guy, but fans care about wins and losses.  If he opens practices, sure, Muschamp will buy himself a couple more strands of rope as he rebuilds Florida.  But if he loses games — with open practices or closed practices — he’ll eventually see any rope he’s given turn into a noose.

Sidenote — During Southern Cal’s run of dominance under Pete Carroll, the doors to Trojan practices were almost always open.  Some guys are scared of spies.  Some aren’t.

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