Assistant Coaches Still On Board For Bowl

FAYETTEVILLE -- Houston Nutt may have gone to Ole Miss, but Arkansas interim coach Reggie Herring said the Razorbacks staff, most of which consists of the departed coach's closest friends, remains intact -- right now.

Herring met with the media for the first time since being tabbed the Razorbacks' leader after Nutt's resignation Monday night. He laid out Arkansas' bowl plans, outlined some staff shuffling and answered a handful of personnel questions.

Herring also added that, as of Wednesday, every assistant had assured him they were on board for the postseason.

"I cannot restrain or demand that a coach does not take a job here in the next week or so and take care of his family," Herring said. "Knowing that, to my knowledge, right now, every coach is in the boat and is committed to winning this game.

"We love our players. We've been through a lot together. But regardless of that, we're professionals, we're under contract and with the spirit of that contract (at Arkansas) and with the spirit of this university, our coaches will honor it."

But staff uncertainty lingers after Nutt resigned at Arkansas on Monday, then was named Ole Miss' new coach Tuesday.

The 50-year-old was formally introduced during a news conference in Oxford on Wednesday. There, Nutt said some of his Arkansas assistants would be joining him. He did not mention specific coaches, but plans to have answers soon.

"By Sunday, I'm hoping to have my staff aligned at least halfway," Nutt told reporters in Oxford.

Offensive line coach Mike Markuson and cornerbacks coach Bobby Allen, who were at Arkansas for the duration of Nutt's tenure, said they don't foresee big changes to the coaching staff before the bowl game. Markuson said the entire group will remain professional despite the unusual circumstances, while Allen said there was "no question" he'd still be around.

"When we're out there and in meetings or on the field, we're going to coach as hard as we always do," Allen said. "Every time we take the field it's always going to be a reflection of ourselves and our players. We're representing the university and we want to try to do everything in a first-class manner."

But Markuson said he couldn't make any promises everyone will be sticking around to coach in the bowl game.

"That's an element that you don't know," he said. "Coach Nutt has been (in Oxford) talking with (Ole Miss) assistant coaches on their last staff. He's got a lot of things going, but the next two days are going to tell some stories.

"But as of right now, I plan on being at Arkansas and coaching this game and coaching during bowl week and I'm excited about it. We'll just go from there."

For now, Herring said he has made a few changes to help the Razorbacks in the postseason. The most notable is moving Louis Campbell, Arkansas' assistant athletic director for internal operations, back to the staff as defensive coordinator.

Herring said running the program is challenging enough, so he has delegated defensive duties to a coach he "believes in so much." Campbell will be assigned to the safeties, while assistant Chris Vaughn will handle Arkansas' linebackers.

"It's something I welcomed and I'm excited about," said Campbell, who also stepped in as a temporary coach for Arkansas' 27-6 win against Texas in the 2000 Cotton Bowl. "Certainly playing, coaching, sweeping floors and everything else here, I want to do everything I can to make sure this football team goes out the right way."

On offense, Herring said the staff will remain in place with coordinator David Lee in charge of game preparation and play calling. In fact, Herring said his instructions for Lee were simple.

"David has been told to go score and score a lot," Herring said. "There's no straps. There's no chains on him.

"My idea of a good offense is to be balanced. To be able to run and throw. To not be predictable."

Overall, Herring said the goal of the entire staff is to guide the program through the turmoil over the next few weeks.

He doesn't expect to see many changes in the day-to-day operations of the program in the next few weeks. For instance, defensive line coach Tracy Rocker was on the road recruiting Wednesday and assistants will keep tabs on commitments.

Herring also said the Razorbacks will spend time on academics because there are players with eligibility concerns. But, just like the remaining staff, he is planning to have everyone aligned and "in the boat" for Arkansas' bowl game.

"The only difference is that Coach Nutt won't be there," he said. "But we'll be organized and get this thing done right."

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