Posted by Greg Tepper on 11 April 2012
Admittedly, this is Dave Campbell's Texas Football, the Southwest's leading football source since 1960, and its focus is obviously on the Lone Star State. But the recent developments in Fayetteville, Arkansas are particularly interesting to us because A) Arkansas is a former Southwest Conference bunkmate to many of the programs in Texas, B) Arkansas is a current conference foe to Texas A&M in the SEC, and C) the events could have far-reaching ramifications across Texas.
So, let's dive in.
If you're not up to speed, Arkansas fired coach Bobby Petrino on Tuesday following the revelation of a rather seedy scandal. The Cliff's Notes version of it: Petrino was in a motorcycle accident, did not tell his employer that there was someone else (25-year-old Jessica Dorrell, a former Arkansas volleyball player who actually hails from Aledo) was on the motorcycle, did not tell his employer that he was involved in an affair with Dorrell, did not tell his employer that Dorrell (who'd recently been hired as a special assistant to the football team) had been hired because Petrino was having an affair with her, and so on. In short, Petrino had an affair, lied about it ad nauseum to everyone, let that affair affect a hiring at the university, and was promptly fired when his lies came to light.
So, Arkansas' coach is out in a blaze of scandal, and whenever that happens, there are ripple effects. Let's take a look at a few that could affect the state of Texas.
Be prepared, Baylor and TCU fans: I expect that your coach is going to be a hot name in this Arkansas coaching search. Art Briles is gaining momentum as one of the nation's better coaches and recruiters, which is going to draw interest, and Gary Patterson has been a hot name for basically every major opening for the last five years or so. But let's be clear about something: I don't think either one of them are going anywhere. Briles is building something potentially special at Baylor, and has terrific in-roads in recruiting due to the fact that he's coached his entire career in the Lone Star State. And Patterson...well, the bottom line is that I think Gary Patterson is happy in Fort Worth, working toward making TCU a legitimately elite force in college football, and with the move to the Big XII, there's no reason for him to leave. Beyond that, I think both coaches would be paid whatever it takes by their private school donors if it ever came to that. I'd put Briles' chances of leaving at 2%, and Patterson's chances of leaving at 0%.
Ah yes, the sector of college football that everyone loves to talk about and nobody really understands. I think it goes without saying that this is a particularly interesting turn of events for the Texas FBS colleges in that Arkansas tends to draw from the same pool of talent as Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, SMU, TCU, Baylor, Houston, Rice, UTEP, North Texas, UTSA and Texas State. Before yesterday, Arkansas had received verbal commitments from just two players, both from Texas: Manvel WR Austin Bennett and Katy Cinco Ranch RB Jamel James. Well, you can knock that number down to one, as Bennett decommitted last night soon after the new of Petrino's firing came out. Bennett is a pretty well-regarded wide receiver recruit -- a little undersized, but super speedy and with outstanding hands -- and he reportedly had offers from SMU, TCU and West Virginia, as well as interest from Texas Tech. That's one immediate name that's come back on the market, and I wouldn't be surprised if James decommits as well considering the instability in Fayetteville (he Tweeted his displeasure with Petrino's ouster last night). But beyond that, this scandal -- in theory -- makes Arkansas less attractive to recruits, boosting the chances of Texas teams landing the recruits against which they're currently contending with the Hogs. You never wish ill on people, but college football fans in Texas have to be at least mildly pleased with this development.
Arkansas in the near future
In short, it's hard to imagine that Arkansas does not take an immediate step back from the level at which they've been playing of late (a Cotton Bowl berth last season, a Sugar Bowl berth the year before). This is good news for the SEC's newest member Texas A&M, who will have to be playing Arkansas every year as division foes. One game does not a season make, and Arkansas could surprise everyone next season (they've certainly got the talent), but if there is a big winner in yesterday's imbroglio, it's probably Texas A&M from both a competition and recruiting standpoint.
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