There hasn't been much concrete news out of the football coaching search lately (meaning we haven't made any ill-fated job offers in the last few days). It seems that Jeff Long has officially called a mulligan (NCAA statute 332.4.54, section B.14) and is basically starting over. As far as we can tell, that's a good thing - the first few tries didn't exactly go well, and the new list of rumored candidates seems (to this decidedly unexpert observer) the one we should have been working from in the first place.
The general theme of the new list is outstanding college coordinators plus a few NFL guys with extensive college experience. Here are the names we've seen, in alphabetical order so as not to imply an official Razorback Expats endorsement (lest you doubt our incredible influence, please note that the NFL head coaches representing both the Expats' West Coast and East Coast offices - Oakland and Atlanta - are both in play. Coincidence? Hardly):
* Norm Chow (offensive coordinator, Tennesse Titans) - I've read reports that say he would jump at the chance to be the Hogs' coach. Maybe, but I don't see why. He has no Arkansas ties that I know of, and would he really want to trade Vince Young for Casey Dick? (no offense, Casey) But, if he really is interested, that's fantastic...the dude is an acknowledged wizard of the offensive arts.
* Ron English (defensive coordinator, Michigan) - the two main things that I know about him are that the announcers were raving about his abilities during the 2006 Michigan-Ohio State game (as OSU was lighting up the Wolverines, for what it's worth) and that Appalachian State put up 34 points on his team. I'm 100% in favor of pursuing minority candidates, but what about Charlie Strong of Florida? He has a great resume and is from Batesville, of all places.
* Reggie Herring (interim head coach, Arkansas) - I have to admit, I have a soft spot for Reggie. The players love him, his intensity is great and he's handled himself really well during this incredibly awkward transition period. On the down side, opposing teams scored about 40 points per game on us this season. In fact, I think Andre Woodson just threw another TD pass against the Hogs while I was typing this.
* Skip Holtz (head coach, East Carolina) - I know almost nothing about him besides the fact that his first name is Skip and his last name is Holtz. Neither one really counts as a positive in my book. Forgive my well-earned cynicism, but my guess is that we end up hiring this guy.
* Lane Kiffin (head coach, Oakland Raiders) - as noted earlier, this would be very cool but I still can't see any of these NFL guys actually coming to Arkansas. And can you imagine the negotiations on a contract buyout between Chancellor White and Al Davis? The university would probably wind up assuming the debt payments on the Oakland Coliseum before it was all over.
* Gus Malzahn (offensive coordinator, Tulsa) - an offensive mastermind, for sure...would be fun to see what he could do. However, call me old-fashioned, but I feel like a coach two years out of high school needs a little more seasoning before becoming head guy at an SEC school. Not to mention that, if he were hired, Springdale and Little Rock would probably have to go have a slap fight on the playground after school.
* Will Muschamp (defensive coordinator, Auburn) - he did what no mortal man had done previously: stop D-Mac (ok, McFadden was hurt, but still). That alone should earn him a long look from the Powers That Be...I'll even overlook the fact that he pretty much single-handedly cost McFadden the Heisman.
* Bobby Petrino (head coach, Atlanta Falcons) - Wildly successful in college. Struggling in Atlanta (granted, they've had some off-the-field issues). Would be a coup if we could get him, but once again - if the Wake Forest coach doesn't want to come to Arkansas, don't get your hopes up too high about any of these NFL guys.
* Brent Venables (defensive coordinator, Oklahoma) - I might lose my blogging license for admitting this, but I don't know much about him. I do know that the Sooners always have great defenses, and I like the idea of hiring a top coordinator, so I'm officially intrigued here.