University of Arkansas fans across the state, nay the country, took a well-deserved victory lap on Monday afternoon when Auburn fired their head coach after losing to the Razorbacks. For the first time in years, Arkansas was on the delivering end of a coach’s axe. But lost in that shuffle was the news story that Auburn had pursued Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek for the same position on The Plains.
University of Arkansas officials moved quickly to extend Yurachek. His new deal pays him $1.5 million annually beginning January 1st, 2023.
I’ll level with you: it took me a long time to warm up to Arkansas’s current Athletic Director. My friends and I called him Gunther Cash-a-Check. It was childish, silly, and fun, much like rooting for a college athletics program.
I’m here to tell you now, though, extending Yurachek is a fantastic idea.
Initially, his hire and Chad Morris’s were inextricably linked, even though Yurachek didn’t actually hire Bret Bielema’s replacement. Unfortunately, that’s how things work in most SEC programs. The AD and the head football coach are a package deal. (See Bielema and Jeff Long)
However, Yurachek moved on from Morris before he finished his second season in a move that surprised me. Most of the national narrative around Morris before his second season was that he struggled in year one but should make it through year two.
Yurachek fired Morris in-season and found Sam Pittman at a discount, which has been a stand-up triple of a hire. His homerun hire would come in the other major male sport.
Yurachek had to fire Mike Anderson. It has taken me personally a long time to come to that conclusion. Firing someone who felt like a Razorback family member could not have been easy. And, yet, it has proven to be the right decision with what Eric Musselman has done in his short time here.
On top of that, Yurachek brought coke products back to Razorback games. Build him a statue for that alone.
Athletic Directors need to be program leaders. Yurachek has led the entire athletic department to new heights. His extension is well-deserved and keeps stability in Fayetteville.