Many times, taking over a program can be a troubling, painstaking process.
Whether a team succeeds in its first season under new management usually hinges on the personnel that is there before the new coach takes over.
Often, it takes a bit of time to build a program that has sustained success.
For Arkansas fans, this season is quite brutal because there hasn’t been much to cheer about, but it’s also Chad Morris’ first season as the coach.
The state of the program that former coach Bret Bielema left the program in would have likely had a similar season like the one the Razorbacks are currently having.
In several cases, coaches bring in a different philosophy that can cause issues, which seems to be the case between the changes between Bielema’s style to Morris’ style.
The key is thriving with what you are given unless the talent isn’t there, which could arguably be said about Arkansas’ football team.
But this column isn’t about the Razorbacks, it’s about coaching changes as a whole and how they have fared this season in Faulkner County football.
In total, four coaches are at Faulkner County schools, including University of Central Arkansas Bears coach Nathan Brown, Conway coach Keith Fimple, Vilonia coach Todd Langrell and Mayflower coach Austin Emerson.
Across the board, these guys have brought success to their programs.
Starting with Brown’s Bears, UCA has already surpassed last season’s loss total by one and has three games remaining at the time of this writing.
Two of those losses came by five total points — a three-point loss to Sam Houston State and a two-point loss to McNeese State.
The Bears also stayed in much of the game of the season opening loss to Tulsa.
Brown took over after several years of being on the UCA coaching staff under former coaches Clint Conque and Steve Campbell.
Brown’s stint began last December after Campbell took a job closer to home at Football Bowl Subdivision South Alabama.
Since then, Brown has been seemingly what the UCA program has needed — a former Bear, who loves the university and the football program. A guy who has devoted himself to the program for several years now.
Every game, UCA has been in the lead or close to winning the game if things broke a different way.
As of this writing, ahead of the Bears’ game against Lamar, UCA is still in position to get into the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.
The Bears are down to their third-string quarterback and a relatively new offensive line.
A pair of previous defensive players are on NFL rosters from last season’s Southland Conference championship team.
Down the street, Fimple has Conway in the playoffs with a home game after a two-loss regular season.
Those two losses came against teams that had been tough for the Wampus Cats for years in Bryant and North Little Rock.
He had a new quarterback, a new running back and a new linebacking corp among other things.
What’s incredible is how this team has been able to win games, albeit sometimes trailing, but it still finds a way, whether handing it off to senior running back Cary McClain or having senior quarterback Jovoni Johnson scramble for several yards.
Fimple took over for now Conway athletic director Clint Ashcraft in the spring and is thriving in his first season.
In Vilonia, from what I can see, one of the more admirable jobs is being performed by Todd Langrell, former Mayflower coach.
Langrell left Mayflower after a conference championship season and returned a pair of the more dynamic players in Arkansas in Deon and Keon Simmons.
Langrell wanted a new challenge.
What could be better than a Vilonia program that has struggled recently and is desperately looking to be consistently be competitive in the 5A West.
This year may not have gone the way several Eagles fans wanted but Vilonia was on the cusp of making a playoff appearance.
The team did suffer from some bad blowout losses, but overall the team competed.
Against a Morrilton team that blew out Greenbrier, Vilonia took the Devil Dogs to overtime in a valiant effort that many probably had a blowout against the Eagles.
This season, Vilonia showed that it had heart and it wanted to play.
I am excited to see what Langrell can do in the future with this program and am looking forward to several battles between Langrell and Greenbrier’s Randy Tribble, who Langrell coached under.
As for Emerson, he picked up where Langrell left off in Mayflower.
Long wanting to be a head coach, Emerson worked his way up the ranks from an assistant at Morrilton, Camden Fairview and as the offensive line coach at Hendrix.
When Langrell left Mayflower, the opportunity opened for Emerson to take the job as he didn’t want to take another coaching job anywhere unless it was in Faulkner County.
All the Eagles have done is win except against 4-3A champion Glen Rose, who seemed to steamroll over several opponents this year.
Looking at Mayflower’s scoreboard, the Eagles put several games out of reach at halftime.
The team has talent, but it’s also a working of the strategies the coach employs.
Several teams throughout history have had several talented players across all sports but they couldn’t win.
Emerson is losing the dynamic Simmons twins after the season, but I think Mayflower will be continue to compete.
These coaches are just starting their journeys at the new schools and it remains to be seen what the long-term effect will be.
However, I believe Faulkner County teams are in good hands across the board, including Hendrix’s Buck Buchanan, Greenbrier’s Randy Tribble and Conway Christian’s Justin Kramer.