Top 5 Bobby Petrino Replacement Candidates
Bobby Petrino has been fired as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks amid scandal.
Petrino, a married father of four, admitted to an inappropriate relationship, presumably with football staffer Jessica Dorrell, who was on his motorcycle when it crashed on April 1st.
With Petrino out, we examine the Top 5 candidates to replace him in Fayetteville based on credentials and availability.
5. Mark Hudspeth (Louisiana-Lafayette head coach)
Hudspeth is a red-hot coaching name after leading the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 9-4 season last fall as a first-year head coach, capping the campaign with a dramatic win over San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl. It was the first postseason win for the program as an FBS member.
Hudspeth has experience as a position coach in the SEC (Mississippi State from 2009-10) and in the state (Central Arkansas, 1998). Yes, Hudspeth is just four years removed from a head-coaching job at Division II North Alabama, but we think the Hogs would do well in snagging this 43-year-old coach on the rise and with a great offensive mind.
4. Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia head coach)
Arkansas has had a poor recent history with its head coaches embroiled in allegations of affairs. Houston Nutt’s departure - though nothing was proven - was messy five years ago. That’s why some could be hesitant to bring in Holgorsen, who began his WVU tenure with some reported poor behavior in a casino.
But let’s be honest: Holgorsen’s results in his first season in Morgantown made everyone forget any alleged bad behavior. He guided the Mountaineers to a 10-3 record and an Orange Bowl drubbing of Clemson.
Holgorsen also brings with him a reputation as an offensive guru who would be like a kid in a candy store with SEC talent like RB Knile Davis at his disposal. It would be tough to pry Holgorsen away from Morgantown in April after just one year on the job but he seems to like living in the South and didn’t sound thrilled with the WVU fanbase last fall.
3. Garrick McGee (UAB head coach)
We know that McGee, the former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arkansas, is heading into his first season as the head coach at UAB. But this is an unexpected situation; if McGee had known that the Razorbacks’ head job would be available this quickly, he certainly never would have left the program.
Despite being just 39-years-old, McGee has risen up the coaching ranks quickly as a position coach, general assistant or offensive coordinator at six schools and one NFL team since 1996. He had been on the Hogs’ staff since 2008 and led an offense that finished 15th in points scored last fall.
Who better to take over the reins of a program blind-sided by scandal than a man familiar with the players and capable of hitting the ground running?
2. Art Briles (Baylor head coach)
A marriage of Briles and Arkansas would be good for both sides. Briles’ program has peaked at Baylor, which last fall won 10 games and featured Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III - a historic season for the Bears. But we think that Briles should cash in on that success.
A jump to the SEC and would be a promotion for Briles, who would inherit a national-title contending roster in 2012. It also would allow Arkansas to continue to employ a tested coach who has competed and had success in a BCS conference.
Yes, Briles just signed an extension in Waco that will pay him around $2.5 million per season. That’s still a million less than Petrino made at Arkansas and boosters like Jerry Jones would be happy to pay any buy-out clause Briles has. Briles has been loyal to Baylor but his allegiance could seriously be tested soon.
And with Davis and QB Tyler Wilson returning, Briles would have the chance to coach two Heisman winners in a row.
1. Gus Malzahn (Arkansas State head coach)
This would a dream hire for Arkansas, which couldn’t recover from an unexpected loss of a top coach any better than if it were to land Malzahn - a former Razorbacks player and offensive coordinator, as well as a star high school coach in the state.
Malzahn, who also grew up Arkansas, left the Hogs after one season as offensive coordinator after not meshing with then-coach Houston Nutt. Since that point, he coordinated impressive offenses at Tulsa and Auburn, where he was the maestro of the spread attack that Cam Newton used en route to a long-awaited national title for the Tigers in 2010.
Granted, Malzahn was just hired at Arkansas State and has yet to coach a game at the school. But his allegiance to the state is clear since he reportedly had turned down other coaching offers to guide the Red Wolves in the Sun Belt.
Going from the Sun Belt to the SEC? One would have to believe that it would be hard to pass that one up.