Wommack To South Carolina

FAYETTEVILLE -- Another day, another coach with Arkansas ties added to South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier's staff.

Spurrier hired former Razorbacks defensive coordinator Dave Wommack on Friday, two weeks after he was fired by Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. Wommack joins former Arkansas defensive coordinator John Thompson and former Hogs tailback and weight room graduate assistant Madre Hill at South Carolina.

Spurrier hired Thompson as his defensive coordinator Thursday.

Hill was hired to coach running backs last Saturday.

"On my exit interview (at Arkansas), I felt like something great was going to happen for me," said Wommack, who will coach defensive backs. "It feels good and I'm excited about it. I said a lot of prayers over this thing. You have good days and you have bad days. There's days that you're thinking, 'Golly, am I supposed to be in this profession?' I still have a passion for the profession, but I'm not going to say I've never second guessed myself because I did at times.

"The good Lord watched over me and put me back in a situation that I'm excited about and I think that's His will."

It was no secret that Wommack became a candidate immediately after Thompson was hired Thursday afternoon because of their deep ties.

The coaches originally crossed paths at Arkansas in 1982 where Wommack was a part-time assistant and Thompson, a Forrest City native, was a graduate assistant. In 1992, Thompson was named defensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi and Wommack joined him as defensive backs coach two years later.

Thompson took a similar position at Memphis in 1999 and Southern Miss promoted Wommack to defensive coordinator. Nutt hired Thompson as Arkansas' co-defensive coordinator in 2000 and Wommack became defensive backs coach in 2001.

Wommack said his history with Thompson helped get his foot in the door. But he stressed that the final decision was Spurrier's.

"I talked to coach Spurrier a couple times," Wommack said. "That kind of sealed the deal. You want to be wanted by the head coach, too. John would be comfortable with it and I would be so comfortable with it. You can relate and talk to each other.

"I think it was a security thing for John and it is for me, too."

Said Spurrier: "We're excited about the addition of Dave Wommack to our staff. He is a solid and experienced defensive coach who has been a coordinator before and has coached in the (Southeastern Conference)."

Wommack's firing -- a decision Nutt described as one of the most painful of his career -- came after Arkansas finished 5-6 in 2004. Under his guidance, the Razorbacks surrendered 397.2 yards a game last season and served as the Achilles' heel of a program that missed postseason play for the first time since 1997.

Wommack took time off to re-evaluate himself before seeking employment. Then, Thompson called Thursday to ask about his interest in South Carolina.

Nutt placed a call to Spurrier on Thursday night on Wommack's behalf.

"I knew (Spurrier) felt good about him, but I just didn't know if he'd get the job," said Nutt, who considers Wommack a close friend. "He has done a lot for our program and he's a class act. I knew he would land somewhere and it's an awesome feeling to see him land at a good program and with a good job."

Wommack understood why he was let go by the Razorbacks and insisted that Nutt's decision hasn't affected their friendship.

But Wommack said those feelings will be set aside on Nov. 5, 2005, when South Carolina meets Arkansas in Fayetteville.

"Everybody is going to be ready for this game at this point," Wommack said. "Everybody's got these ties and everything. I haven't thought that much about it yet. I'm sure that I will in the near future. It will be an exciting game."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories