Don’t think you’re off the hook, Arkansas. Yes, everyone is watching Tennessee’s every stumble. No one can blame you for that. At this point, every moment for Tennessee in this coaching search is a scene of complete chaos and destruction, and always with a stuntman in a suit on fire. His job here is wandering around the background holding up a sign with the name of someone else Tennessee could hire, but will instead pass on for no reason whatsoever. Today it reads: “MIKE LEACH.”
We see you, though. We know you’re out there waiting to see someone else mess this up, hand off your beer to a waiting bystander, and then swan dive off the cliff into the lake without looking.
It’s what the brave do, and why they’re remembered fondly, and also why they’re “remembered” and not “appreciated.” Quietly, Arkansas might have made two or three of the most insane hiring decisions of the past two decades, all sort of just hanging out there because a.) It’s Arkansas, and b.) Some of them actually paid off.
Examine the lunacy. Since 1997 Arkansas has:
- Hired Houston Nutt after one 5-6 season at Boise State, leaping into the marriage like they had one hot weekend in Biloxi and just went with it.
- IT WORKED FOR TEN YEARS WITH ONLY TWO LOSING SEASONS? It did, somehow, work.
- Oh in the middle of that Houston Nutt treated Gus Malzahn like an errand boy? Never forget that part.
- Went hard after Bobby Petrino ejecting from the Falcons, hiring him at midnight.
- AGAIN: IT MOSTLY WORKED SOMEHOW. Until it really, really didn’t in the ugliest manner imaginable
- Hired John L. Smith as an interim in the most brutally honest way possible: Giving him the rare ten month contract with the implied “there is no way in hell we’re renewing you.”
- Took Bret Bielema from Wisconsin after Arkansas’s AD got a nice note from him for his handling of the Petrino scandal, and then gave him a paralyzingly huge buyout and an obscene salary.
- IT WORKED okay it didn’t, like not one bit at all, sorry
TL; DR: It’s been daredevil shit in Fayetteville for twenty years running.
Arkansas is going to hire someone and, if you pay attention, it will be hilarious, risky, and based on their history and through no fault of their own, likely some sort of success? It will likely be sort of successful, and yet laughable and farcical all on its own. Did we mention who might be the perfect character actor for this particular role, with a history of success in the hinterlands of major conferences and a penchant for minor controversy? Who in his FBS career has also only coached for teams that wear red?
Maybe we’re only mentioning him to see how irritated Nick Saban would get coaching in a 44-10 blowout of Arkansas that still takes four and a half hours away from Nick Saban’s recruiting schedule? We’re not just mentioning it for those reasons, but that is a nice bonus on top of all the other sense this makes for Arkansas.