Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/21/12
For many Arkansas Razorback fans, Friday can’t come soon enough. Not because they expect their beloved Hogs to beat LSU and take back the Golden Boot trophy. No, the only boot Razorback fans know for sure they are going to see Friday is the boot up John L. Smith’s backside officially ending his disastrous 10-month tenure as head football coach.To paraphrase a quote from Sir Winston Churchill, “In the annals of athletic endeavor, never have so many owed so much to someone for so little.”The Razorbacks will close out a “lost” season with four victories after Friday’s inevitable drubbing at the hands of 10-1 LSU. All that coming after being picked in the pre-season Top 10 with 14 starters returning from last year’s 5th-ranked team.You have to wonder what could have been if the bumbling Smith either had not been hired or at least had been fired three or four games into the season so that someone else on the staff could have been given a chance to lead the Hogs. It couldn’t have been worse, that’s for sure.At least there is something positive to discuss (besides the fact that Smith’s contract runs out). Quarterback Tyler Wilson and receiver Cobi Hamilton will own several records each after Friday’s game. Wilson will most likely become the Razorbacks’ career passing leader. He needs only 88 yards to vault over Ryan Mallett’s 7,493 career passing yards.Hamilton needs 4 receptions to pass Jarius Wright’s career receptions record. He has already taken over the top spot for single season receptions and yards, with 80 for 1,237. Hopefully, he and Wilson will have a good day and both can add to their great career marks.Who’s Next?For now, speculation is running rampant about who athletic director Jeff Long is going to hire to resurrect Arkansas from the Bobby Petrino fiasco and the season I have dubbed “Hogmageddon.” To his credit, Long has been able to keep a hermetically sealed lid on whatever backstage machinations he’s conducted thus far.Long needs to hire a head coach very soon. Otherwise, the Razorbacks stand to lose several high profile junior college prospects who committed to the Hogs but have started looking around because of the uncertainty surrounding the program. Junior college players can sign in December if they plan to enroll in their new school in January. Thus, the need for speed on Long’s part.The Hogs have already lost one commitment from the high school ranks and stand to lose others from what was already a mediocre signing class if Long doesn’t hit a home run soon with the announcement of who he’s hiring to be the next Head Hog.I have two favorites for the position: Sonny Dykes from Louisiana Tech and Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris.Dykes has done a fantastic job at Louisiana Tech. Yes, I know: Tennessee hired Derek Dooley after his third season at Tech and look what a disaster that has been. But Dooley was 17-20 at Tech including a dismal 4-8 in his final season. Makes you wonder what UT saw in him other than his heritage as the son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley. Derek can now enjoy an extended vacation with his $5 million buyout.Dykes, on the other hand, has a 22-14 record at Louisiana Tech, including 8-5 with a WAC championship in 2011 and 9-2 this season. His trend, unlike that of Dooley, is upward. Dykes could be a long-term solution for Arkansas since he is only 42 years old.He’s also from Texas. He graduated from Texas Tech (oddly enough, he played baseball in college). Before taking over as head coach at Louisiana Tech, Dykes had very successful stints as offensive coordinator at Texas Tech and Arizona.Morris was a Texas high school coaching legend after winning state titles at Bay City and Lake Travis. His two championship teams at Lake Travis were ranked #2 in the nation. His overall record after 16 seasons was 169-38, an amazing 82% winning mark.The 44-year-old Morris served as offensive coordinator at Tulsa for one season before Clemson coach Dabo Swinney snatched him away to resurrect the Tigers’ offense. The Hurricanes were number 5 nationally in total offense with Morris at the helm. Clemson has been just as successful.In Morris’ two seasons as offensive coordinator, Clemson has won an ACC championship and posted records of 10-4 in 2011 and 10-1 going into Saturday’s battle against arch-rival South Carolina.Morris was named national Offensive Coordinator of the Year by Rivals.com for 2011. Clemson’s offense set records for total yards per game and scoring in 2011.  They have gotten even better in 2012.The Tigers lead the nation in scoring at 44.6 points per game, are 6th in total offense and 9th in passing yards per game. Tigers QB Taj Boyd is second nationally in passing efficiency. He has thrown for 3367 yards after completing 240 of 343 passes and accounting for 33 touchdowns.Morris’ Tigers have already surpassed last year’s school record for points. They have amassed over 500 yards of offense seven times in 2012 and set school season records in five offensive categories.Morris has proven he can coach very successfully on the college level. He has a stellar high school record that proves he can be a great head coach. All he needs is a chance to take the next step up the ladder.If Long is willing to risk hiring a young coach, those are my recommendations. If he wants to go more conventional, I’m sure he’s already considered Tommy Tuberville (Texas Tech, Auburn, from Camden, Arkansas), Art Briles (Baylor), or Mike Gundy from Oklahoma State.This is a monumental decision. Long has most of Arkansas’ athletic programs in the hands of great coaches who have the potential to win conference championships and more in their sports.But football is the yardstick by which most college programs are measured; the most significant fan support and money generator. Long can secure his legacy and justify his recent pay raise and contract extension with the right choice. Who’s next?
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