The CBS college football analyst spoke to the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club on Wednesday, then did several radio segments on Sports Talk With Bo Mattingly. Tillman was an All-America running back at Oklahoma.
Tillman isn't an expert on Arkansas, but he knows plenty from the trips to Stuttgart and Pine Bluff with his mother.
"That's where she grew up," said Tillman, a Tulsa product. "So I visited the state and I know the passion that exists here."
Tillman considers Arkansas an "elite" football school because of that passion. He said it's similar to what exists in Alabama where 150-year-old trees on the Auburn campus were poisoned by a rival fan at Alabama.
"If I was a coach, I'd be all about this opportunity," said Tillman, who then broke into a great Houston Nutt imitation about the chances of landing top recruits once they make it to campus.
"Look at these facilities. This place is gorgeous. It's a great place and it's in the right conference."
What is the criteria for the next coach?
"The first criteria is that he has to be confident, but accountable," Tillman said. "You don't need a coach that people are afraid to challenge. People around me know they can challenge me. But at the same time you have to be supremely confident. They also have to know they are vulnerable.
"I don't think that existed with the previous coach. It's accountability."
"I think you have to have great coordinators and the ability to recruit great talent," he said. "It's been a challenge at Arkansas, but I have seen coaches that can mitigate that risk."
The SEC requires a certain type of coach in Tillman's mind. He said they must be able to handle "old man football." He said the coach must understand that it's about "stopping the run."
"I'd go after Chris Petersen," Tillman said. "That's where I'd start. He has a great offensive mind and plays great defense. He has a stellar record against BCS teams. They are rebuilding at quarterback now, but he's shown that he can do that. I'm not sure he will leave, but I'd start there."
And then he'd head to Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"I'm going to get a call from Nick Saban," Tillman said on the radio, referencing Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. "He's in stark contrast (to Bobby Petrino). But I'd start off with someone who has a defensive pedigree. That's how you are going to win."
Tillman spent much of his time at the TD club talking about problems within college football. He said it's been a difficult year in college football. He mentioned issues at Penn State, Miami, the Bobby Petrino termination and felony charges for the former CEO of the Fiesta Bowl. Tillman said it will take Penn State to get over its scandal, one that "trumps Pony Express."
"We are in a very difficult place," he said. "Big picture, there is a lot of talk about islands of excellence. But I think it's a lot of instability. Right now we have a lack of uniformity and that weakens the league. What we need is a czar."
Tillman pointed to the different way players have been suspended by conference commissioners for vicious hits. Some sit out, others do not.
"I'm the son of a missionary," he said. "She read to me about Israel. She said, there is no king so everyone did as they wished in their own house."
Asked what he thought about teams changing conferences, Tillman seemed saddened. He said he grew up knowing that Oklahoma vs. Nebraska was a constant. He mentioned other storied rivalries. He said he can't believe they are gone.
"I don't think the college presidents understand the currency of the game," he said. "Don't be screwing with tradition. Tradition is the currency of college football. You throw that out, you are throwing out money."
Tillman sees more change on the horizon.
"It's greed," he said. "In five years, the NCAA won't exist. There will be 40 teams break off. It will be the structure of class. We already have that in a way, with the BCS and six conferences. The BCS may go away, but something like it will happen."
Tillman also thinks college football coaches should release injury reports with detail, like the NFL.
"The Pac-12 commissioner is suggesting that now," Tillman said. "NFL coaches do it. It should happen in college, too. I understand that college coaches want to protect what they perceive to be a competitive advantage. Once they are used to it, they will be fine with it just like NFL coaches."