Experience: 2001: Offensive coordinator at Navy
2002-2008: Head coach at North Alabama (66-21)
2009-2010 Wide Receivers coach and passing game coordinator at Mississippi State
Current Position: Head coach of Louisiana-Lafayette (5-1 record in 2011)
Philosophy: Offensively, Hudspeth features a no huddle style offense that is fairly balanced between the run and the pass. Hudspeth likes his offensive linemen big and his running game powerful, which allows him to set up the passing game that makes his teams go. During his two year stint at Mississippi State as passing game coordinator, the quarterback rating for the team improved from number 105 in 2009 to number 48 in 2010.
Defensively, Hudspeth's defense runs a version of the 4-3 that has a defensive end, two defensive tackles, and a position called Bandit; an outside linebacker that plays along the defensive line but not with his hand in the ground. As a reference point, Lousiana Lafayette's current Bandit is Le'Marcus Gibson, a 6-foot, 205-pound senior. Hudspeth likes to stack the box and stop the run, leaving his corner backs in a lot of man-to-man coverage and making it difficult for his opponents to have success running the ball.
Reasons he should be hired
1. Can rally the fan base: In his tenure at North Alabama, Hudspeth was able to raise attendance by 122 percent, and for a fan base that is vastly disappointed with the performance of its team in 2011, a coach that has proven he can fill the seats and bring excitement to the program may be exactly what Arizona needs.
2. Ability to turn around program: Before he arrived at the school, Louisiana-Lafayette had just one winning season since 1995, when it went 6-5 in 2005 to clinch a share of the Sun Belt crown. It took one season for Hudspeth to reverse that trend, as his Ragin' Cajuns are 5-1 and in the driver's seat in the conference.
3. Approachable: The 42-year old coach has done his best to connect with the ULL fan base, as he reaches out to it frequently via his Twitter and Facebook accounts. In less than a year as the head coach of the Ragin' Cajuns, Hudspeth has already become widely popular in the community and has had great success connecting with fans and boosters and getting them involved again in a program that has given them little to be excited about in recent years. Both Greg Byrne and President Sander expressed their desire to have Arizona's next coach be a great representative of the University of Arizona, and Hudspeth could be that man.
4. Competitiveness: Much like Arizona basketball coach Joe Pasternack left a head coaching job at New Orleans to be an assistant at a Division I program, Hudspeth displayed his desire to compete at the highest level when he left Division II North Alabama after eight seasons to fulfill his dream of becoming a Division I coach. With a program that is not in the best of shape currently, Arizona will need a coach who isn't afraid of a challenge and has accomplished goals, much like Hudspeth.
5. New recruiting ground: With the majority of its recruits coming from west of the Mississippi, Hudspeth's connections in the South would open up a very fertile recruiting ground for Arizona to tap into.
Reasons he should not be hired:
1. Will he leave home? All of Hudspeth's experience is in Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama, and the Louisville, Mississippi native has made it clear before he'd like to stay in the South. Arizona may be just too far away from home to lure the Louisiana-Lafayette head coach to its vacant position.
2. Is he ready for big time job?: While Arizona may not be in the top half of the Pac-12 currently, it is certainly more high profile than any of Hudspeth's previous stops. While he has the charisma and the charm to win over the fan base, will that translate into wins on the field? With little experience at the Division I level, just six games to be exact, it would certainly be a roll of the dice for Byrne to bring Hudspeth on board.
3. Name Value: With names such as Mike Belotti, Mike Leach, and Chris Petersen swirling around the Arizona coaching vacancy, Mark Hudspeth is certainly a less well-known name to the fan base and both current and prospective players. Byrne may be looking for a bigger name for a faster turnaround, which would definitely hurt Hudspeth's candidacy.
4. No West Coast ties: With California providing a steady flow of recruits to Arizona each year, would it be wise to bring on a coach who has virtually no connections out West? The problem may be solved by maintaining a staff member from Mike Stoops' staff with the rapport with California coaches and players, but would it be enough to get quality players from the Golden State and Arizona on board with his program?
5. Would he be accepted? Arizona fans are certainly looking for a big name hire amongst the list of candidates above. As previously discussed, that already puts Hudspeth at a disadvantage, but how excited would the fan base be about his hiring? Questions will inevitably be raised about his qualifications and experience, which could make it very difficult for him to immediately garner the support of the fan base.