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Coaches Already Denying Interest In The Arkansas Job

Earlier today, we made the case that Arkansas AD Jeff Long should simply find or promote an interim coach for 2012 and use the next eight months to thoroughly research every possible coaching candidate in the country.

Who else gets that kind of time to find the right man for a job?

Apparently, UA seems to be heading in that direction.  Matt Jones of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writes that “an interim coach seems the most likely route for Arkansas to take” this fall.  In his words, “This is an experienced and invested staff of assistants with which the players feel comfortable.”

If Long’s smart, that’s exactly the route he will take.  But there’s good money — or at least good pageviews and ratings — in kicking around the names of coaching candidates.  So before Bobby Petrino’s coaching casket was lowered into the ground, website and talk radio shows were already targeting his replacement.

Garrick McGee, Butch Davis, Gus Malzahn, Skip Holtz, Dana Holgorsen, Kirby Smart, Art Briles, Charlie Strong, and on and on.

Of those mentioned, two “candidates” have already distanced themselves from the rumors.

Arkansas State’s Malzahn told a radio show this morning that he’s “the coach at Arkansas State” and that he’s “committed” to staying in Jonesboro.

Skip Holtz of South Florida also shot down the speculation.  “I have not talked to anybody from Arkansas… I am not looking to leave here.  I am not calling anybody.  I am not trying to put my name out there.  I want to be the head football coach here.”

Coaches lie, folks.  So I have no doubt that Malzahn or Holtz would jump at the Arkansas job if it were eventually offered.  After the season.

But to move between spring practice and the fall?  That’s a heckuva mark to put on one’s resume.  Such a move wouldn’t be forgotten.  See: Petrino’s own midseason departure from the Atlanta Falcons.

A new coach would also be walking into a complete mess.  How would players embrace him?  Would he come alone and use Petrino’s old staff?  Would he bring in his own staff and learn Petrino’s system from the players?  Would he implement his own system during fall practice?

The right thing for Long to do is to find the best man for Arkansas this year and let that interim handle things in 2012.  Then, by December, Long will have had plenty of time to uncover the perfect choice for next year… and beyond.

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