All Appears Quiet On UA's Coaching Search

FAYETTEVILLE — The media frenzy has died down, and the talk of Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville coming to Arkansas isn't nearly as strong as it was Thursday night.

In other words, Friday was mostly quiet when it came to incoming Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long's search to find a new football coach. Today marks the sixth day of the search.

"Jeff will take the time necessary to secure a highly qualified head coach for our football team," Arkansas Chancellor John White said in an e-mail to The Morning News on Friday night. "He is keeping me fully informed, and I am pleased with his progress."

Reports surfaced Thursday night on the Internet and on television claiming that Tuberville was close to reaching an agreement to replace Houston Nutt as Arkansas' coach.

But multiple sources familiar with the situation said Thursday that Arkansas and Tuberville had not struck a deal. Friday, meanwhile, came and went without any major developments being made public.

"As far as I know, they're working hard," said Frank Broyles, who will step down as Arkansas' athletic director at the end of the year. "I don't have any information whatsoever (about) what they're doing."

Broyles flew to Atlanta on Friday to attend the festivities surrounding tonight's Southeastern Conference Championship Game between No. 5 LSU and No. 14 Tennessee.

Tuberville's travel plans were closely monitored, as well. He dodged reporters Friday afternoon after arriving at the Auburn airport from a one-day hunting trip in West Helena.

Meanwhile, Auburn officials gave a written offer for a two-year contract extension to Tuberville on Friday, The Huntsville Times reported.

The offer, according to the newspaper, would extend Tuberville's contract through Dec. 31, 2013, and includes a raise totaling $1.2 million.

A source close to Tuberville also told The Times that Tuberville has not had any discussions about an offer from Arkansas to replace Nutt.

Tuberville is still considered a candidate for the Arkansas job, but his $6 million buyout could pose a problem for Arkansas officials.

Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin has also been mentioned as a strong candidate, though he has twice told reporters this week that he's not interested in leaving after one season in the NFL to coach the Razorbacks.

Tuberville and Kiffin have been perhaps the two coaches whose names have been linked most frequently to the Arkansas opening.

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has also been mentioned as a candidate. But Red Raiders' sports information director Chris Cook said Friday afternoon that Arkansas officials have not contacted Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers to seek permission to speak with Leach.

Arkansas interim coach Reggie Herring on Wednesday expressed interest in replacing Nutt on a full-time basis, and several other college coordinators could be in the mix for the job.

Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables is familiar with Long, who served as OU's senior associate athletic director before becoming the University of Pittsburgh's athletic director in 2003.

Long didn't rule out hiring a coordinator to replace Nutt during an impromptu news conference Wednesday night.

"Everybody wants to ask if it's going to be an existing head coach. Certainly a program at the University of Arkansas, we have interest and I have interest in head coaches that exist in programs," Long said. "There are certainly assistants and coordinators that have great experience and will be considered."

Morning News staff writer Robbie Neiswanger contributed to this report.

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