Hogs Coaching Search Rolls On

FAYETTEVILLE — After a hectic week filled with rumors and rejections on the coaching front, Arkansas' search for Houston Nutt's replacement seemed to be defined by another word Friday — regrouping.

Where Arkansas turns next in its search for a coach is uncertain. But chancellor John White indicated there are plenty of possibilities remaining on athletic director Jeff Long's "mental list" of candidates Friday.

"I can say that his list includes head coaches, as well as coordinators on college and professional teams," White said in an e-mail to The Morning News.

So far, Long's primary targets — Clemson's Tommy Bowden and Wake Forest's Jim Grobe — have been head coaches. Both turned down opportunities. But Long said no "formal offer" has been made.

Potential targets in Long's next wave likely include Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables and Atlanta Falcons coach Bobby Petrino. Tulsa offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and Arkansas interim coach Reggie Herring remain possibilities as well.

Sources close to the situation said Muschamp has, at least, spoken with Long about the position although the depth of the discussions are unknown.

The 36-year-old Muschamp, who has been on Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville's staff the past two seasons, was a finalist for the 2007 Broyles Award and spent part of the week in Arkansas for the event. Muschamp has never been a head coach, but does have a wealth of Southeastern Conference experience. He played at Georgia and was Nick Saban's defensive coordinator at LSU from 2001-04.

A message left on Muschamp's voice mail at Auburn was not returned Friday.

Venables, 36, has worked at Oklahoma since 1999 and has ties to Long, who was an associate athletic director at the school. Petrino, 46, is in his first season with the Atlanta Falcons after a successful collegiate stint at Louisville. Chow, 61, gained fame as Southern California's offensive coordinator from 2001-04 and has been with the Titans for three seasons.

But if Long decides to stick with a name familiar to the program, it is clear there would be some support.

Arkansas' players met with Long and White to voice their search concerns Thursday. A source close to the team said both assistants were backed by different players. Malzahn was Arkansas' offensive coordinator in 2006, while Herring has been with the Hogs since 2004.

When contacted Friday night, Herring declined to comment on the player's meeting. He has said repeatedly he will not campaign for the Arkansas job.

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