Arkansas Football: Coaching Search Heats Up over Bill King’s Comments


Nov 13, 2010; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels fan holds a shirt supporting head coach Butch Davis. The Hokies defeated the Tar Heels 26-10 at Kenan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Bill King caused a stir among Arkansas Razorback fans on Tuesday when he announced on air that he had inside information regarding the Hogs head coaching search. With three months remaining before a new head coach would normally be announced, the unofficial announcement is Butch Davis will be the new Boss Hog.

King is part of 247 Sports radio that is broadcast on Sirus XM. King bills his show as the top college sports radio show in the nation. As to the extent of his “insider” knowledge remains to be seen.

Since Arkansas interim head coach John L. Smith has essentially run the Arkansas football program into the ground within the first two games of the 2012 college football season, talk among Razorback Nation has immediately turned to who will be the next head coach at Arkansas.

Several top names have been floated about, realistic or unrealistic, Butch Davis being one of those possible candidates to replace Smith.

Davis, a graduate of the University of Arkansas, has college credentials at Oklahoma State (TE/WR), Miami (DL/HC), and North Carolina (HC) as a position coach and/or head coach while also having pro head coaching experience with the Cleveland Browns.

From 1989-1994 Davis served as the Cowboys defensive line coach before taking over as their defensive coordinator for the 1993-1994 season. Davis parlayed the Cowboys second consecutive Super Bowl win into a head coaching job with the Miami Hurricanes.

Davis has an overall head coaching college record of 63-43 and a pro record of 24-34. His best college teams came the years following his departure for Cleveland. But as the Hurricanes head coach he was 11-1 in 2000. His Miami team was shunned from the national championship game but still received the No. 2 ranking in the nation when all was said and done.

In 2001 the Miami team Davis built ran the table in the Big East going 12-0 under new head coach Larry Coker with Randy Shannon as the defensive coordinator beating Nebraska in the Rose Bowl 37-13 for the national championship.

Davis recruited talent that included Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey, Bryant McKinney, Sean Taylor, and Ed Reed.

The 2002 Miami team was still loaded with Davis’ recruiting talent winning their first 12 games before losing on a controversial call at the end of the game to Ohio State 31-24 in double overtime.

The 2002 Hurricane team featured players like Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, Kellen Winslow II, Vernon Carey, Jonathan Vilma, Brett Romberg, and Antrel Rolle.

If Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long is sincere about running a program without any early warning red flags seen ahead of time, as known with former head coach Bobby Petrino, Davis may not be the guy for Long.

Davis was blamed for the academic scandals that imploded the University of North Carolina football program in 2010. In total 13 players were suspended for the violations centered upon players receiving improper tutoring benefits.

The bigger issue for Razorback Nation and Jeff Long might be the gifts the players received from sports agents. UNC fired Davis after a NCAA investigation in 2011 and eventually vacated their victories from the 2008 and 2009 seasons due to the infractions.

Davis is a great recruiter, scandal or not, and knows how to turn around a program. He posted an 8-5 record in each season from 2008 through 2010.

With ties in the state of Texas, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Oklahoma, and Arkansas one could speculate that Davis could easily walk into any recruits home flashing his BCS Championship ring along with his Super Bowl ring and get said recruit’s attention. His background as a defensive minded coach could be what the Razorbacks need to catch and surpass SEC West rivals Alabama and LSU, each known as stalwart defensive teams.

Big business in Northwest Arkansas may have a hand in the Davis hiring. Speculation has Tyson, among other major donors, liking Davis. Davis was one of the coaches rumored for the Arkansas job in 2008 before Bobby Petrino took over for the departed Houston Nutt. Davis denied interest in the Arkansas job after one year with the Tar Hills, plus he was given an annual bump in salary by UNC to stay.

Davis still receives a reported $1 million per year from North Carolina and was not able to coach elsewhere per his contract. He currently serves as an adviser/assistant to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization and head coach Greg Schiano.

King may have spilled the beans a couple of months too early, if his inside information is accurate. If King’s drama rousing information is true, when can Razorback Nation expect an official announcement from Athletic Director Jeff Long? Even more important, when will Davis start recruiting for the 2013 National Signing Day?