FAYETTEVILLE -- One of the more compelling parts of University of Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek's question-and-answer session Monday came when Yurachek was asked how he could assure the next football coach that he'll get enough time to put his system in place and succeed after Coach Chad Morris was fired less than two years into his tenure.
"That's my job to sell them on that," Yurachek said. "And quite honestly, I know I've got to get this search right. We cannot afford as a department of athletics to go through this two or three years from now."
Morris' firing with almost a month to go before the SEC Championship Game gets Arkansas an early start into the Power 5 coach-search sweepstakes along with Florida State, who also fired a second-year coach, Willie Taggart.
"The timing of this change gives me a little bit longer runway to really do my due diligence on this search and make sure we get the right candidate in here and that we allow that right candidate the time they need to build a program," Yurachek said. "Obviously it's going to take steps. That first step is we've just got to be competitive.
"We've got to put a competitive product out on that field that we all feel proud to support Saturday after Saturday. And then from that competitiveness will come wins, and those wins will start to multiply year after year."
Sophomore linebacker Bumper Pool, a 10-game starter, was dressed in a yellow, nonparticipation jersey Wednesday and watched from the sidelines after the stretch.
Coach Barry Lunney Jr. said freshman tailback A'Montae Spivey, who was suspended Saturday for an unspecified violation of team rules, is back in good standing.
"Should be available," Lunney said of Spivey, who practiced Wednesday. "Need him to be ready to go and help us. He's got a lot of ability."
Lunney said freshman safety Jalen Catalon suffered a minor, unspecified injury in the loss to Western Kentucky and would miss the rest of the season. Catalon played in his fourth game against the Hilltoppers and was targeted to redshirt.
"He's on the rebound," Lunney said. "He'll be fine."
Junior receiver De'Vion Warren, who missed the last game with an ankle injury, is improving but was not at practice.
"I'll let you know more later in the week, but right now he's improving but still not quite there," Lunney said.
The sense of humor of Arkansas interim Coach Barry Lunney Jr. was on display during his first appearance on the weekly SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday.
Lunney mentioned at his introductory news conference Monday that the previous 24 hours had been such a blur he could not remember where he ate with his family and what he ate during their lunch Sunday.
Continuing that theme on the teleconference, he added, "I don't remember my drive in or drives to work. I think the other night when it was sleeting and snowing, I think I skidded about 12 miles straight on the ice while I was talking on the phone.
"Luckily, I stayed straight, you know? I'd hate for there to be a new interim coach. I think that would be unprecedented, and luckily I was able to survive that."
When Democrat-Gazette reporter Bob Holt pointed out that maybe Lunney shouldn't use his cellphone while driving, Lunney agreed.
"I appreciate the advice," he said. "I'll take that to heart. You sound very much like my wife [Janelle], and I agree with you 100%."
He likes Sam
Georgia Coach Kirby Smart was informed on Wednesday's SEC coaches teleconference about a movement among some former Arkansas offensive linemen to push Sam Pittman for the vacant head coaching job. Pittman, the Hogs' offensive line coach from 2013-15, is the associate head coach at Georgia and one of the best recruiters in the land.
"Sam's got an incredible personality," Smart said. "Kids gravitate to Sam's personality. He's a tremendous asset for our program. He'd make an incredible head coach given the opportunity.
"He's a joy to be around. He's done a tremendous job for our program. He's got a lot of experience, and he's been a lot of places. He's certainly been a big help to me."
Memphis Coach Mike Norvell, a potential candidate for the vacant Arkansas job for the second time in three years, was asked about his interest this week.
"I'm glad that people are talking about us in a positive way -- our players, our team, our staff -- but at the end of the day that's all on the outside," Norvell said. "Our focus is to come to work every day and go out there and perform to the best of our ability. Those are the things that we can control. I don't control what anybody says about anybody in this program.
"I think I answer the question -- it's been asked a good number of times -- it's a lot better than having to defend the job that we're doing. We're excited about the future. We're excited about what we have. I've got a great job with great young men that I get to coach, and we're going to put everything that we have into this week."
The No. 18 Tigers play at Houston on Saturday.
Western Kentucky quarterback Ty Storey said prior to Saturday's game that it would be special to play in Reynolds Razorback Stadium again after the Charleston graduate spent his first four years in college at Arkansas.
A few days after the Hilltoppers prevailed 45-19 with Storey accounting for three touchdowns and 290 total yards, he let loose a little more freely about what the victory meant to him.
Storey Tweeted out a song lyric on Instagram, "Cause I told them that we put that behind us, but I lied," on Monday.
He expounded later.
"That's human nature," Storey told The Athletic. "Growing up, that's your home state, that's your team. You play four years and it's going to be something extra, something special playing there. Last week, we played it off like it wasn't that big of a deal, but obviously, it's going to be pretty emotional and a big win."
Storey also talked about the firing of Arkansas Coach Chad Morris.
"You never want to see people get fired, but that's what this business is," Storey said. "It's pretty cutthroat. I understand that, being in it for five years. It's how it goes.
"Coach Morris is a great coach, and he'll find a place somewhere. He's too good of a coach not to. Sometimes things just don't work out."
Rakeem Boyd was selected to the Pro Football Focus SEC offensive team of the week.
Boyd rushed for a career-high 185 yards and two touchdowns in the Razorbacks' loss to Western Kentucky.
Sports on 11/14/2019
Print Headline: Hogs' AD Yurachek: I've got to nail search for football coach