Arkansas Football: Top Coaches in Razorbacks History
The University of Arkansas has had some great football coaches in its history.
It is always a challenge, with a large pool of talent to choose from, to compile an organized list of "best of" in any category, much less college football coaches.
Some choices and their rankings may be controversial, but they're always open for discussion.
Please share your thoughts and, as always, enjoy!
7. Francis Schmidt (1922-1928)
When Francis Schmidt arrived at the University of Arkansas, the longest tenured football coach in the school's history had only stayed five seasons.
Though Schmidt didn't leave Fayetteville with any hardware, he did give the program some consistency and finished his seven season with only one losing season, which was his first.
The list would have been incomplete without a sixth spot for the man who maintained a competitive program during its early days in an extremely tough Southwest Conference.
Seven seasons, 41-21-3 overall, 8-12-2 SWC
Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame—1966
College Football Hall of Fame—1971
6. Fred Thomsen (1929-1941)
Though he left Arkansas with a losing record overall, Fred Thomsen belongs on this list.
During his 13-year career as head of the Razorbacks, Thomsen took the program to its first bowl in 1933, and won his school its first football championship of any kind three years later, when his team finished first in the Southwest Conference.
With two program milestones, and a career that lasted over a decade, Thomsen is one of the best all time in Fayetteville.
13 seasons, 56–61–10 overall, 26–42–3 SWC, 0-0-1 in bowls
Southwest Conference Championship—1936
Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame—1970
5. Houston Nutt (1998-2007)
Though Houston Nutt isn't held in high esteem in the recent memories of most Razorbacks fans, leaving him off a "best of" coaching list for the University of Arkansas would be dishonest.
Nutt showed up in the SEC and proved, right away, that he could hang with the big boys. Though his career became troubled in the end, with a reputation as someone who couldn't always finish the job, his numbers were impressive in a time when the Southeastern Conference wasn't a cakewalk.
Many may believe that he either shouldn't be on the list at all, or is too high in the order, but his stats stack up against any coach on the list.
10 seasons, 75-48 overall, 42-38 SEC, 2-5 in bowls
SEC West Championships—1998, 2002, 2006
SEC Coach of the Year—2001, 2006, 2008
AFCA Div. I-A Region II Coach of the Year—1998
The Football News Div. I-A Coach of the Year—1998
4. Bobby Petrino (2008-Present)
Bobby Petrino will need two things to move up this list: More seasons, and an SEC Championship.
Under Petrino, the Hogs have been frustratingly close over the past two seasons to being a serious national contender, but in today's SEC, it's no easy task.
Perhaps in another conference, his 2011 squad, for example, would have obviously been a serious BCS contender last season.
A few more similar seasons and Petrino will begin his ascent in the proud history of solid Razorback coaches.
Four seasons, 34-16 overall, 17–15 SEC, 2-1 in bowls
3. Ken Hatfield (1984-1989)
Ken Hatfield took over at Arkansas after Lou Holtz left the program for Minnesota under tenuous circumstances.
His early success may have been mistaken as a continuation of the program Holtz had left behind, however when the program remained competitive and actually improved during the rest of his time in Fayetteville, it's impossible not to credit Hatfield as one of Arkansas's best ever.
Some may view Hatfield's spot on this list as too high, however his consistent stats are impressive regardless.
Six seasons, 55-17-1 overall, 36-10 SWC, 1-5 in bowls
Southwest Conference Championships—1988, 1989
Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame—1989
2. Lou Holtz (1977-1983)
Though he won his national championship later on in South Bend, Lou Holtz certainly left the Arkansas program in better shape than he found it.
For his foundation laying, he ranks one spot above Ken Hatfield, on this particular list.
Coach Holtz won a share of the Southwest Conference title at a time when it was one of the premier conferences in America, and chock-full of football powerhouses and talented players. Hist work made Arkansas a perfect candidate for its current home, the SEC, when that chance came a few years later.
Arkansas owes a lot of its modern name recognition to one man, and that's coach Lou Holtz.
7 seasons, 60-21-2 overall, 37-18-1 SWC, 3-2-1 in bowls
Southwest Conference Championship—1979
Bear Bryant Coach of the Year—1977
Walter Camp Coach of the Year—1977
Sporting News Coach of the Year—1977
Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame—1983
College Football Hall of Fame- 2008
1. Frank Broyles (1958-1976)
As if it even needed to be stated, it is no surprise that the top spot on this list belongs to legendary Frank Broyles.
The former Georgia Tech quarterback studied under Bobby Dodd as a player and a coach, and like his mentor, made his home in a new program and came out a legend.
Broyles won Arkansas its only national title and is still the longest-tenured and winningest coach in Razorback history. His numbers speak for themselves.
19 seasons, 144-58-5 overall, 91-35-5 SWC, 4-6 in bowls
Southwest Conference Championships—1959, 1960, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1975
AFCA Coach of the Year—1964
Sporting News Coach of the Year—1964
Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame—1967
College Football Hall of Fame—1983