Arkansas Eyeing Coordinator Candidates

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt has a short list of at least six offensive coordinator candidates, according to sources close to the program.

Fresno State offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, Oregon offensive coordinator Gary Crowton, Northwestern offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar, South Carolina assistant Rick Stockstill, Louisiana-Monroe offensive coordinator Todd Berry and Arkansas passing game coordinator Roy Wittke are on the list.

Nutt met with athletic director Frank Broyles for his annual postseason evaluation over the weekend. According to Broyles, the decision to hire an offensive coordinator is at Nutt's discretion. He has been in charge of calling plays for the offense during eight years at Arkansas, but back-to-back losing seasons have resulted in pressure for a change.

Sources also said no timetable has been set for the Razorbacks' hiring of an offensive coordinator. Nutt was unavailable for comment Tuesday and told UA sports information director Kevin Trainor that he would not address any issues regarding the program until next week.

Arkansas already has been in contact with David Cutcliffe and David Lee about the position. Cutcliffe was named Tennessee's offensive coordinator on Monday while Lee, a former Arkansas assistant, is expected to keep his present position as quarterbacks coach/offensive quality control with the Dallas Cowboys.

With those two out, Wittke is the most familiar with the program. Nutt often has said he has a lot of confidence in Wittke, who has spent three seasons with the Hogs. Attempts to reach Wittke on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Before arriving at Arkansas in 2003, Wittke spent 13 seasons at Eastern Illinois as assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks and running backs coach. He was Central Missouri State's offensive coordinator from 1987-89 and also had coaching stints at Montana State and Wisconsin Eau-Claire.

Cignetti is in his fourth season guiding Fresno State's high-powered offense after serving as the New Orleans Saints' quarterbacks coach during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. In 1999, he was an offensive assistant/quality control coach with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was with Indiana University Pennsylvania from 1990-98 and was IUP's offensive coordinator during his last two seasons.

Cignetti declined comment when asked by a reporter from the Fresno (Calif.) Bee about the situation on Monday. Fresno State plays Louisiana Tech for a share of the Western Athletic Conference championship on Friday. Cignetti's name has been mentioned for Temple's head coaching vacancy as well.

Crowton is in his first year at Oregon, where Ducks' coach Mike Belotti wanted a two-year commitment from Crowton when he was hired. According to Oregon's sport information department, no one from Arkansas has asked for permission to speak with Crowton.

Crowton spent eight years as a head coach, compiling a 47-36 combined record at BYU (2001-04) and Louisiana Tech (1996-98). BYU went 12-2 while leading the nation in total offense (542.9 yards per game) and scoring (46.8 points per game) in 2001. He spent the previous two years as the Chicago Bears' offensive coordinator and also has stops at Georgia Tech, Boston College, New Hampshire and Western Illinois to his credit.

Dunbar spent the past five seasons at Northwestern, the last four as the offensive coordinator. He's the pioneer behind a Wildcats' spread offense which put up more than 400 yards per game in 2004. He was previously head coach at Northern Iowa, where he compiled a 29-15 record from 1997-2000.

In 1992, Dunbar was named offensive coordinator at Toledo and was promoted to assistant head coach in 1994. In his five seasons, Toledo posted a 36-18-2 record, including an 11-0-1 record in 1995. He also was head coach at NAIA Central Washington and led the team to a 54-9-1 mark in six seasons.

Stockstill, a former Florida State quarterback, is in his second year as South Carolina's tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. The Gamecocks' sports information department was unaware of any interest in Stockstill by Arkansas. Stockstill was out of the office recruiting on Tuesday and unavailable for comment. He has been in contact with Middle Tennessee State officials about its head coaching opening.

Prior to South Carolina, Stockstill was East Carolina's offensive coordinator in 2003. He helped Clemson's offense set more than 100 school records from 1989-2002 when he served as recruiting coordinator, receivers coach, co-offensive coordinator, passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at different times.

Berry, a native of Miami, Okla., is in his second year piloting Louisiana-Monroe's pass-oriented offense. He last was a head coach at Army (2000-03) and Illinois State (1996-99). The Cadets broke 25 Academy offensive records during his tenure and Illinois State broke 100 school records while Berry was there.

Berry engineered a big turnaround at Illinois State since the Redbirds had not won a conference title since 1950 when he arrived. The 1998 team advanced to the Division I-AA playoffs and the 1999 squad posted an undefeated conference record. Both were firsts for the school.

The sports information department at Louisiana-Monroe said it was unaware if anyone from Arkansas has asked for permission to contact Berry.

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