Tahlequah Daily Press


November 30, 2012

Arkansas coaching search gets weird


2.) As for good football coaches…

Because it seems rather evident that Long will continue to sleep on Gus Malzahn — and because I am anything but unbiased in that regard — allow me to present you with the name of the gentlemen that you should wish for when you click the heels of your little red slippers, or rub your hog hats, or whatever it is you do when you log off of the internet message boards at night:

Art Briles.

In 1996, as the Southwest Conference dissolved, a slew of big stick carrying Texans campaigned on behalf of Baylor’s inclusion into the newly forming Big 12. For the ensuing decade, BU’s membership in the league served as a prime cautionary tale, screaming, “Be careful what you wish for,” with each resounding demolition at the hands of superior opponents.

From ‘97 to 2007, Dave Roberts, Kevin Steele and Guy Morriss led Baylor through one of the most futile periods in the history of college football. The trio combined to post a 28-85 mark, aided by Morriss’s relatively successful .310 winning percentage.

Five years later, Briles, a former high school coach, has transformed the Bears from a virtual bye week to a dragon-slaying offensive powerhouse. Just ask Kansas State.

He hasn’t done it with smoke and mirrors, either. He’s done it by identifying and attracting top shelf talent within the state of Texas.

Quarterback Robert Griffin, whom Briles recruited while at Houston, transcended the college football universe in route to the school’s first Heisman Trophy. With all due respect to Anthony Lucas and Cobi Hamilton, Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams are as good as any pass catcher to arrive in Fayetteville in recent memory — if ever. Even, Nick Florence, he of over 4,000 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, has proven that Griffin’s 2011 performance was not a Cam Newton-esque fluke. All Texas natives.

With the addition of Texas A&M to the SEC, a border war over the top prep athletes in the Lonestar State has begun. The Aggies are winning. Arkansas is not close. Briles is capable of recruiting Texans to Arkansas even more effectively than Mike Gundy has at Oklahoma State.

The best hypothetical measure of any coach is what would happen if you remove him from his respective team. Remove Nutt? Arkansas thrives. Remove Petrino? Arkansas plummets.

What do you suppose happens to Baylor when Briles leaves?

3.) Oh, but about Gus...

I love Briles — clearly — but Malzahn should be the choice. If Arkansas doesn’t snatch him up, someone else — say, Auburn, for instance — will.

Much like Barry Switzer used to tell Oklahoma recruits that the Sooners were going to win, with or without them, Malzahn is going to win big, with or without the Hogs. Can Arkansas say the same? Throwing $27 million at Miles has to make you wonder, no?

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