FAYETTEVILLE — If search firms, consultants often receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars to point out the obvious, indeed ever make sense, then the University of Arkansas is on the right track for hiring the Razorbacks’ next head football coach.
However it appears a waste paying a search firm to find a new Razorbacks athletic director lest the UA brass risk repeating the same reasons they ultimately fired Athletic Director Jeff Long on Nov. 15 after nearly 10 years.
On Tuesday, UA Chancellor Joe Steinmetz announced that the search firm Korn Ferry has been hired to help in the quest to hire a permanent athletic as meanwhile Senior Associate Athletic Director Julie Cromer Peoples serves as interim athletic director.
Peoples has been leading the search for a new head football coach since last Friday the UA fired Bret Bielema, Arkansas’ coach the last five seasons. Steinmetz and Cromer Peoples also announced Tuesday the search firm DHR International assists in the head football coaching search.
For a head football coach, the Razorbacks ultimately need the best they can find regardless of location and whether he has past ties with the UA or the state of Arkansas.
That would seem to apply to the athletic director’s job too, but like an old song’s title, "It Ain’t Necessarily So."
Though coming in from a brilliant six-year tenure at Wisconsin, Bielema immediately related to Arkansas and Arkansans.
He just didn’t win enough in five years, 29-34 overall and 11-29 in the SEC, to continue into Season Six.
However, Long, an Ohioan hired in 2007 from his AD post at the University of Pittsburgh to replace retiring Arkansas icon Frank Broyles in 2008, seldom connected with any but among the wealthiest of the Razorbacks’ fan base. Long was finally disconnected, well he’s still connected with an $83,000 per month buyout into 2022, from the UA because he did not have sufficient support to continue, Steinmetz said.
The Razorbacks desperately need as AD one of their own who can put the Arkansas back in the Arkansas Razorbacks and unify the state whose unique bond to the Razorbacks indeed makes Arkansas unique.
A national search firm seems far less qualified than those knowing Arkansas what the Razorbacks most need from their next AD needing Arkansas ties.
Darren McFadden, among the Razorbacks’ greatest ever as the two-time winner of the Doak Walker Award in 2006 and 2007 voted to the nation’s best running back, and the 2-time Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2006 and 2007, retired Tuesday into his 10th year as a NFL running back with the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys.
McFadden and fellow All-American running back Felix Jones starred together from 2005 through 2007 with the Razorbacks with each turning pro following their junior 2007 campaign.
A NFL running back-kick returner for Dallas and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jones retired in 2013.
Great as both were on the field, this writer equally recalls them as off the field refreshing during Arkansas’ SEC West championship yet soap opera like season of 2006. Both just played ball to their ability’s best and handled media obligations to their best, too.
It seems appropriate they be inducted together in the next Razorbacks Hall of Honor banquet Aug. 31 before the Hogs open their 2018 season on Sept. 1 in Fayetteville against Eastern Illinois.