Yet another high profile job opening came about that could have relevance to the Texas football program, with Arkansas firing former head coach Chad Morris.
The firing of coaches around the college football landscape will really begin to catch steam as we head into Week 12. The waning weeks of college football’s regular season will once again bring about the coaching carousel talk. But hopefully the Texas football program won’t be one of those often discussed in the coaching carousel.
Heading into their Week 11 battle against the Kansas State Wildcats, the Texas Longhorns football program had a head coach themselves with his seat heating up around him. Head Texas football coach Tom Herman did manage to reel in all the pressure effectively last weekend with a gargantuan 27-24 home victory at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium over Kansas State.
First-year Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman has his program on the right trajectory, but this shows that Herman gets his teams to perform at their best when his back is up against the wall and he’s considered an underdog. The Longhorns do still very much remain alive in the race to land a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game.
However, there was one head coach in the area with a historic college football program that didn’t meet the same fate of late as Herman. Former SMU Mustangs head coach Chad Morris landed a bigger job with the Arkansas Razorbacks football program, but couldn’t get it done in slightly under two seasons in Fayetteville.
During his tenure at Arkansas, Morris finished with a horrid record of 4-18. Not all of those losses came to powerhouse programs in the SEC either. The Razorbacks couldn’t seem to do anything right over the past year and a half against any opposition but FCS programs.
While the SEC West is an absolute gauntlet year in and year out, that doesn’t excuse some of the losses that Morris raked in over the past two seasons. He lost to the San Jose State Spartans and Western Kentucky Hilltoppers this season and the North Texas Mean Green last season. You can’t do that at a traditional and historic program like Arkansas in the SEC West.
Yet, what does the firing of Morris with the Razorbacks mean for the Longhorns from here on out?
Arkansas and Texas were in a handful of recruiting battles that involved key four-star prospects in the 2020 cycle. We could also start to see a large group of Arkansas players start to put their names in the NCAA Transfer Portal. That might include past prospects that the Longhorns were targeting, like former four-star safety recruit Jalen Catalon.
One key underrated prospect that the Longhorns were going after that is currently committed to Arkansas is skilled three-star Carthage, TX, athlete Kelvontay Dixon. A head coach leaving, that Dixon committed to, could be that final pin drop that caused him to flip over to a program like Texas.
Moreover, whenever an opening like the Arkansas football program comes about, there’s always going to be hot Power Five names that are dropped. The good news for the Longhorns is that it doesn’t seem like any of their assistants, and especially Herman, are a real threat to be on the move.
Third-year defensive coordinator Todd Orlando would’ve been a hot candidate to land a head coaching job after the 2019 campaign, but he’s really struggled and come under a lot of fire of late. Arkansas would figure to go after poaching an assistant like wide receiver coach Drew Mehringer and analyst Larry Fedora if they were going to take anyone to add to a rebuilding coaching staff.
What this also means for the entirety of the Power Five conferences moving forward is the start of the coaching carousel. Arkansas is the second big opening to come about this season. The Florida State Seminoles recently let former head coach Willie Taggart go. That is a higher profile opening than Arkansas.
And we could soon see the USC Trojans let go of head coach Clay Helton if he keeps losing.