State of the Hogs: Hiring Coaches

Will the Arkansas economy improve with the next Arkansas football coach hire? That might sound crazy, but Peyton Manning has apparently helped the economy in Denver.

Pete Roussel does the coaching search gig 365 days a year. He bills himself at his website as the number one source for coaches, athletic directors and agents.

Now that doesn't stop fans from going to and from sending him emails. But don't expect to get much action with an email to Pete suggesting that you have the scoop on the next guy at Arkansas.

"If the email is from yahoo or gmail, then I'm pretty much not going to open it," Roussel told the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club on Wednesday.

Well, he proved that isn't true because he did quote some that he's gotten of late, including two different fans that had Jon Gruden first on the Tennessee campus last weekend or at Arkansas. There was also a mention of a goofy email from Maryland that puts Randy Edsall at Arkansas and another that has Terry Bowden at Kentucky.

I'm guessing from Pete's tone that he didn't believe any of that -- kind of like some of the stuff I've heard since April when Arkansas terminated Bobby Petrino -- but Roussel does believe Peyton Manning has helped the economy in Denver. He said Manning's success this year has helped restaurants in midweek? What?

"I talked to a buddy in Denver and he said since Peyton's been there and they've been winning, people go out to eat more," Roussel said.

Don't discount that logic. I was told at an early age that when Arkansas wins a football game, more cars are sold and people are just in a better mood to do business in our state. That came from my father. I don't think he had any proof, just car dealers.

It could be that Roussel was actually talking to Peyton in Denver. Roussel knows the Mannings well. He caught passes from Eli Manning in high school. And it would be surprising if all of the Mannings were not in his vast network. Roussel sets up shop in Oxford, Miss., where he was once an assistant coach at Ole Miss.

Coaches use Roussel's service to help prepare their resumes, practice interviews or get a name when they are having trouble filling out their staffs. Apparently, some recent UA assistants are included in that network because they have talked to Roussel about Jeff Long, the UA athletic director. He said the remarks are good.

Roussel said those assistants said Long "never told us no" for anything they wanted as they tried to win in the SEC. You name it, Long would get it for them.

"He's an enabler," Roussel said. "A lot of places are not like that."

Roussel said it's likely that the depth of Long's information on his candidates is amazing. Roussel is in the business of helping present the information in coaching manuals.

He said the presentations are as detailed as the assigned seats on the team plane to how a coach would hit the entire state of California in a three-week recruiting period. The latter came from a presentation from Mike MacIntyre before he interviewed for his current job at San Jose State.

Roussel said it's not going to be long before Long has his man. He predicted the coach would be hired between one and two weeks after the season.

"You are four weeks away from being happy," Roussel told the TD club.

Roussel dropped some names that included up-and-comer coaches like MacIntyre and Willie Taggart of Western Kentucky. But he said it likely won't drop to them because someone like Tommy Tuberville will say yes early because Arkansas "is a top 15 job."

I remained fascinated by Taggart, a product of the Jim Harbaugh coaching tree. He's the youngest Division I coach at age 36 and except for three years as running backs coach at Stanford, his coaching career is all Western Kentucky. I always wonder about building a staff. Roussel was ready for that. He said Taggart has had a tough time keeping his assistants, losing several to BCS programs already.

"With the kind of resources he would have at Arkansas, Willie would have a really good staff here," Roussel said. "I don't think he would be tied to his current staff. He has a huge network and there are a bunch who would want to work for him here."

As good as Taggart might be in the long run and no matter my personal interest, I'm just not sure he'd boost the state's economy with a bunch of car sales.

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