Heath Seems At Ease Amidst Job Instability

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Stan Heath will be fired if the Razorbacks don't advance to the NCAA Tournament, a source close to the basketball program told The Morning News.

When approached by a Stephens Media reporter after Monday's practice and asked about similar reports, Heath said "I have no comment."

He surely understands this kind of talk, though.

His Razorbacks, nearly a year removed from their first postseason appearance since 2001, sport records of 16-12 overall and 5-9 in the Southeastern Conference.

His 77-69 record in four-plus seasons has not sufficed for many Arkansas fans, especially his 6-33 mark on the road in SEC play.

Yet, he seemed at ease Monday. He walked into his Monday news conference, appearing upbeat, and started to speak without being asked a question.

He wore his Razorback sweater-vest proudly, acting like a man who realized his potential fate and was ready to prove his naysayers wrong.

"The biggest thing I'm going to do right now is encourage my guys, inspire my guys, and motivate my guys because it's easy to kick people when they're down," Heath said. "We're not going to take that approach.

"We're going to finish this year strong, we're going to play hard, we're going to play as a team and we're going to have a little fun with it, too."

If Arkansas could finish with a six-game winning streak, like the Hogs ripped off late last season, Heath would save his job. That would mean winning an SEC Tournament championship, a difficult proposition considering Arkansas hasn't even won consecutive SEC games.

Several Arkansas players said the public speculation about Heath's future had frustrated them recently. Charles Thomas bluntly said he couldn't escape the chatter. He overheard numerous students discussing the situation Wednesday.

He acknowledged that he and his teammates understood what was needed to keep Heath in Fayetteville next season.

Sonny Weems, confident that Heath's fate hadn't yet been sealed, said the players would rally behind Heath.

"We don't want him to go," Weems said. "We're going to try to prevent that. We're going to try to keep that from happening."

Stan Heath's record

Arkansas coach Stan Heath is 77-69 in four-plus seasons in Fayetteville. He is 29-49 in Southeastern Conference games and 6-33 in SEC road games.

Season Record SEC Record

02-03 9-19 4-12

03-04 12-16 4-12

04-05 18-12 6-10

05-06 22-10 10-6

06-07 16-12 5-9

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