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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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UA Linebacker Gilbert Arrested On Burglary Charge

New linebackers coach Taver Johnson is in charge of the Arkansas football program at least through the end of spring.  Today, he had to suspend one of his own players.

Razorback linebacker Tyler Gilbert was arrested on a charge of aggravated residential burglary and theft of property and was booked shortly after noon ET today.  The school announced that Johnson has suspended Gilbert indefinitely.

Gilbert is the third Arkansas footballer to be arrested this spring. 

On a sidenote, aren’t Hog fans due for a little good news for a change?

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Petrino Morning Headlines

Atlanta Falcons fans are loving it.  Tommy Tuberville-backers are loving it.  And a lot of Arkansas fans are torn over it.

Bobby Petrino’s admission yesterday that he wrecked his motorcycle while riding with a 25-year-old woman he’d just hired into his football program leaves some fans defending their coach — he’s winning games, after all — and others ready to hurl their Bibles at him.

Below is a quick look at what’s being written about the topic this morning:

1.  As you already know, Petrino has been placed on paid leave.

2.  The coach could be in violation of the university’s policy on sexual harrassment.

3.  Here is Petrino’s two paragraph statement from last night in its entirety.

4.  Assistant head coach and linebackers coach Taver Johnson — the newest member of the Razorback staff — has been put in charge of the program for the time being.

5.  The University of Arkansas has “a public relations nightmare” on its hands.

6.  Here’s the official police report.

7.  Dennis Dodd of says Petrino’s career should not survive because he will no longer be able to recruit.

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