Arkansas Razorbacks: Will Coaching Changes Affect Bowl Game Preparation?

James BrownSenior Analyst IDecember 8, 2011

LITTLE ROCK, AR - NOVEMBER 19:   Head Coach Bobby Petrino and the Arkansas Razorbacks watches his team warm up before a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at War Memorial Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Bulldogs 44-17.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Arkansas Razorbacks are one of the top-ranked teams in college football and they are getting ready to play against the Kansas State Wildcats in the Cotton Bowl. However, the Razorbacks are going through an overhaul at several coaching positions that could hinder their preparation for the Cotton Bowl.

Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee left the team and he will be the new head coach at UAB. McGee, like many coaches, was seeking a head-coaching job and will be a fine fit with the Blazers. McGee was very impressive during his first press conference, but this left a void with the Hogs.

It was announced on Tuesday that the new offensive coordinator would be Paul Petrino, the younger brother of head coach Bobby Petrino. Petrino returns to the staff to join his brother after spending the last two years in Illinois as the offensive coordinator. The transition to Petrino should be seamless since he is familiar with the offense and helped to recruit current quarterback Tyler Wilson. The change at offensive coordinator was just the beginning for the Razorbacks' coaching staff.

John L. Smith, the assistant head coach and special teams coordinator, left to coach his alma mater and will be the new head man at Weber State. The coaching carousel continued to spin at Arkansas and next up was a change on the defensive side of the ball.

Arkansas announced the release of defensive coordinator Willy Robinson, who had been with the team for four years. Under his tutelage, the Hogs improved on defense, but this year they were dominated in big games against Alabama and LSU. If the Razorbacks want to compete with the best teams in the SEC, it all starts with defense, and it was time for a change.

The latest rumors indicate that Randy Shannon could take over as defensive coordinator. Shannon is a defensive specialist who should make an immediate impact on defense.

This has to be a distraction to the Razorbacks as they prepare to play Kansas State. Bowl games always come saddled with distractions, but this could be the biggest kind of distraction and could actually hinder preparation for the Wildcats. Bobby Petrino will have a tough task of replacing personnel, silencing rumors and getting Arkansas ready for the big game.


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