Razorbacks Excited About New Coach

Arkansas players practiced Tuesday night just after learning that Bobby Petrino was headed to Fayetteville to become their new football coach.

Arkansas players made a quick exit from Walker Pavilion after practice Tuesday night, but those that were available for interviews expressed happiness over the news that Bobby Petrino had been named their new coach.

"I considered Louisville when I came out of high school and knew all about Coach Petrino," said wide receiver London Crawford. "I think everyone is happy. I think we know he's an NFL-type coach and has been successful and runs an offense that puts the ball in the athlete's hands.

"What I know about him is very good. What I know most is that his pipes don't bust under pressure."

Interim coach Reggie Herring congratulated athletic director Jeff Long for a "tremendous job" in finding the coach. Herring also said he expects to continue the job as interim coach for the Cotton Bowl date against Missouri. He also thanked those Arkansas fans who expressed support for his candidacy during the last couple of weeks.

"I want to personally thank all the Arkansas people for supporting me and this team," Herring said. "It means the world to me."

Then, he said, "Obviously, there is a new coach. This team will be ready for him. Jeff Long has done a tremendous job. He found good candidates."

Asked again about the fan support for his candidacy, Herring said, "All that support, it was the biggest gift I've ever received."

Herring doesn't expect his job description to change over the next three weeks as the Hogs prepare for Missouri.

"I haven't been advised of any change and I expect to be here and finish this job," he said of bowl preparations. "That's what we talked about to these players tonight, finishing the job we started. I was hired to do a job and I want to finish it. I don't expect the players to flinch either. They haven't flinched in adversity all year."

Herring said the news on the academic front has been good all week as the Hogs finish finals.

"We haven't had any casualties as far as semester tests," Herring said. "Our players have worked hard and they are closing in on finals and doing well. No fatalities on test that we know about."

At least one Razorback completed degree requirements on Tuesday. Jonathan Luigs, named the Remington Award winner last week as the nation's top center, said he took two finals Tuesday that gave him his degree. However, he still expects to return next season.

"I put my name in for the (draft) but that was just out of curiosity," he said. "I plan on coming back and get a second diploma in the fall."

He said he was excited to see the hiring of Petrino.

"He's an NFL coach and I am excited to see what kind of staff he brings to us, maybe some guys with experience at the next level," Luigs said. "Our players have been excited tonight. We know what he's done. We know his reputation. He's been successful in the past and hopefully he is successful with us, too. We look forward to meeting him."

Tailback Felix Jones also seemed excited about the news in a brief interview, but he said it would not effect his decision on whether to return for his senior year or go early to the NFL draft. He said that decision "would not be based on who is the coach" but on what is best for him personally.

Sophomore cornerback Jerrell Norton said team members found out about Petrino's decision to leave the NFL for Arkansas as they were headed to player meetings.

"We know about his history," Norton said. "He's been a very good coach. We are excited to learn he is going to be our coach. It's good news and it's good to have it over. We've all but watching this and wondering who would be our coach. Now we know. We all look forward to meeting him."

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