Arkansas Football: Stick with Taver Johnson, Don't Make Things Worse
You're the Arkansas Razorbacks and you just fired your head coach at one of the most inopportune times on the calendar. Much like Ohio State and Jim Tressel or North Carolina and Butch Davis, now is not the time you traditionally fire a head coach. In this window you can look at your timing as one of two things: you're nestled firmly behind the eight ball when it comes to finding a coach OR you're well ahead of the game when it comes to getting the right guy.
Names have been kicked out as options for the Razorbacks to go to right now. Gus Malzahn. Skip Holtz. Butch Davis. Garrick McGee. All guys that might have some interest and/or ties to the program. Malzahn has already said he's sticking at Arkansas State for now. Skip Holtz issued a no thank you, sort of. Butch Davis has his own "issues" of sorts. Garrick McGee just got his first head coaching job and hasn't even been there for five months.
If you're Arkansas, just stop. Stop looking at names of guys who can come plug the leak right now. Don't pick up the phone and ask Garrick McGee to jump ship at UAB and come back to Fayetteville. Don't see if the unfettered Butch Davis has interest in the job. Instead of scrambling to find someone to be the captain of the ship, sit tight and look at the glass as half full. You've got a head start on finding your head coach for 2013.
Leave Taver Johnson at the helm, hire a new linebackers coach and get the ball rolling. Make sure your offensive and defensive staffs are ready to go, hell give them a bit of a pay bump, and finish out the spring before heading into the fall. You'll give your kids at least a modicum of normalcy and familiarity and Johnson gets 12 or more games to show what he can do.
While Johnson is auditioning for a job he likely won't get, Jeff Long needs to use the time to find the right guy. Maybe Johnson does ball out and win the job a la Bill Stewart and Dabo Swinney. But, more than likely he gets the same fate as Everett Withers and Luke Fickell. If you're Jeff Long you have had nine months of resume checking, background checking, reference checking and vetting to find the guy that you want. You've had time to feel guys out. You've had time to gauge legitimate interest. You've had time to float out numbers.
As December rolls around you'll have your guy. Not "a guy" that's filling the void. Rather, you'll have your guy. The guy who you trust to continue furthering your program. The guy that you want to give the reins of your program to. The guy who gets to play on the new technology, the new field and work out of the new facility.
If you're Jeff Long, that's what you need to do. Wait. Get the right guy. Don't rush this decision that, in the grand scheme of things, may well sink or extend your career at the University of Arkansas. Coaches are investments and a hasty decision is not the smart play when you're talking about a multi-million dollar investment.
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