Hogs Peg Wood For Final Spot

FAYETTEVILLE -- Alex Wood received a different title than expected when he arrived at Arkansas for a second interview on Wednesday.

Wood was named the Razorbacks quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator during an afternoon press conference. He clearly was ready to accept the role of quarterbacks coach alone, but the title of passing game coordinator came as somewhat of a surprise.

"That was my idea," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "I wanted him to have that title and have that responsibility. He deserves it.

"The great thing about it is he didn't care anything about it."

It was Wood's ego, or lack there of, which impressed Nutt the most. Mix that selflessness with a 26-year coaching career in the NFL and college and Wood appears to be a perfect match with Arkansas' offensive staff.

"I think it's a good fit," Wood said. "Because I think that coach (Gus) Malzahn is open to ideas and those kinds of things, and so am I. But the reason I know it will be a good fit because I'm not an ego guy, if he doesn't like my idea, that's great, that's OK. My job is to bring something to the table.

"I think the thing that we're emphasizing here is that we are all team players and we're all here for one common goal."

Wood will sit in the coaches' booth on game days and his experience should help ease Malzahn's transition from a successful high school coach into a major college offensive coordinator in 2006.

"The thing you like about Alex is his demeanor," Nutt said. "He's been a head coach, he's been an offensive coordinator, so he's not worried about that. He knows that he will have input and he knows that we're going to need him, we're going to need his eyes in the box and so that's what you love.

"With Gus' personality and Alex's personality, it's a good mix. There's not a tremendous ego there where they have to feel like they have to put their chests out. There's no insecurity, especially with Alex. There's no insecurity because he's been on every level."

Wood becomes Arkansas' seventh quarterbacks coach, a position established in 1984. Others were David Lee, Jack Crowe, Charlie Weatherbie, Greg Davis, Rocky Felker, Joe Ferguson and Roy Wittke, who was fired last month after three seasons.

While his title will be quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator, Wood should be a boost to all of Arkansas' skill players on offense.

The Ohio native played running back at Iowa from 1975-77 and was a running backs coach at Miami when the Hurricanes won national titles in 1989 and 1991. He also helped develop young receivers Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick while with the Cincinatti Bengals in 2003.

However, Wood's most notable work has been with quarterbacks such as Daunte Culpepper, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George and Jay Fiedler. Wood spent four years with the Minnesota Vikings tutoring Culpepper, the fourth quarterback selected in the 1999 NFL draft.

Culpepper became the regular starter by 2000 and, despite it only being his second season, earned the NFC nod as the starting quarterback in the Pro Bowl.

Nutt estimated that he made more than 20 phone calls during his evaluation of Wood.

"The thing that stood out the most is the more people you talk to, his passion for the game, his teaching of the quarterbacks, his expertise on the professional level and in college, there's just a lot of positives," Nutt said. "He's been a head coach at the college level, so he's been around the block. But the thing that kept coming back was the passion to teach.

"He's got a lot of options. He could have very easily waited another 5-10 days and got (an NFL) job. That's what is impressive the most. He would rather be right here at Arkansas, so I'm excited about that."

Wood's background includes six years in the NFL and 21 years in the college ranks, where he was head coach at James Madison University from 1995-98 and also served as an assistant at Wake Forest, Miami, Washington State, Wyoming, Southern, Southern Illinois, Kent State and Iowa.

Wood and his wife, Rosa, were handled like prized prospects on Wednesday, even being treated to The Catfish Hole for lunch. They toured the campus and the surrounding area while also meeting with Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles.

"This is a really exciting time for me and my family," Wood said. "To have a chance to be a part of a traditional program such as the University of Arkansas, I'm looking forward to being a Razorback.

"I enjoy coaching. I would go coach probably just about anywhere, because I love teaching and I love coaching, but fortunately for me, I don't have to go coach anywhere. I get to coach at one of the best programs in the country and that's this one right here."

New UA quarterbacks coach and passing coordinator Alex Wood talks with the media on Wednesday afternoon after hiring was announced.


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