Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Before moving on from Petrino ...

Bobby Petrino: He be gone. The announcement was not entirely surprising given the apparently unending depth of weirdness to be found underneath the motorcycle thing (even if there were a lot of people who thought he'd be saved by having won a lot).

The two surprising-ish aspects of the presser Tuesday night were Jeff Long's revelation that Petrino was giving Dorrell money from his own pocket and this tidbit, which didn't actually come from the presser but got leaked at the same time, probably by either Long or the football SID:
Assistant head coach Taver Johnson had been placed in charge of the program while Petrino was on leave, and sources told's Chris Low that Johnson will continue to lead the program. The sources said Long has informed the coaching staff he would like to keep the assistants in place through the rest of spring practice and then open the coaching search to see what candidates are available.
Wooo May coaching search!

The interesting thing about that sentence -- which I might be reading way too much into since it's not a direct quote -- is the wording of the "what candidates are available" part. The candidates who will be available a month from now are the same ones who are available now; it's not a particularly thrilling list. The question is whether Long's talking about just posting the job and finding out which guys who do have a job are interested or if he's talking about taking the next month to vest the guys who don't have a job.

If it's the former, he's presumably hoping for a call from Garrick McGee, who'd be the head coach right now if he hadn't taken the UAB job a few months now, or maybe Gus Malzahn, who for some reason is coaching at Arkansas State but obviously has some Arkansas connections and might be the only realistic option who wouldn't represent a significant drop-off in terms of playcalling ability. Charlie Strong would be swell but probably isn't bailing on Louisville in early summer, especially given the Petrino awkwardness there. Same with Art Briles at Baylor, a program that just gave him a big-money extension after he built it up to something relevant out of a pile of poo.

If it's the latter ... ummm ... ??? Here's a name from ESPN Insider:
Butch Davis, a 1973 Arkansas graduate, has internal support from some prominent players in the university's machine, but he is a complicated candidate.
Hmmmm ... I'm intrigued by your ideas and wish to subscribe to your newsletter. I had no idea Davis was an Arkansas grad, but he's actually of comparable quality to Petrino, which puts him a notch above every other plausible* candidate. Whether Arkansas is interested is another matter; the whole UNC thing was kind of a mess and hasn't been forgotten considering that it just ended like a month ago. That said, he wasn't directly charged with anything by the NCAA and therefore has no show-cause or other limitations, so the only issue would be the PR one. Also, SEC win money win win blah blah blah. Davis would win. I bet he's gotten (or will get) a phone call from somebody at Arkansas with a lot of money and some undetermined amount of pull.

So that'll be interesting. There's nobody else particularly desirable in the "technically available" category, which of course is not the same as the "available" category (insert Todd Graham joke here). That might not mean anything in regards to Davis' likelihood of getting hired but definitely doesn't hurt given the timing of the search.

I don't have much else to add here; it's all 100 percent speculation until the coaching search either starts or doesn't start (possible if Long decides to hold off until after the season). Just know that the preference is finding someone a lot better than Taver Johnson and finding him ASAP.

*Obligatory ridiculous suggestions: Jon Gruden, Jim Tressel, Bill Cowher, so on and so forth.


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