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As of now, the only prediction about the hiring of a new football coach at the University of Arkansas is that the announcement probably will be in two weeks, give or take a couple of days.

It seems obvious all the candidates are coaching somewhere else right now.

Which means Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino are long-shots, at best. And that the pipe dream of hiring Bob Stoops or Urban Meyer is a dream that won't come true.

Who is on Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek's list is known to only him and anyone he has told, who he immediately swore to secrecy.

Every day, it appears more and more that his hiring of Eric Musselman as basketball coach was a walk-off grand slam.

And no one saw it coming, at least not initially.

Although Musselman's resume was strong, it seemed apparent Yurachek wanted Kelvin Sampson, which was a natural fit because they were friends at the University of Houston and Sampson is a great coach.

A couple of other names were thrown out, but during the last few days of that search Yurachek was meeting with Musselman and traveling to his home to meet with his family.

Yurachek knows you don't just hire a coach, but his family as well.

Danyelle Musselman has been as big of a hit as her husband.

She's a former TV anchor with stints at ESPN and The NFL Network. By all accounts, she's got charm, dignity and a real warmth about her.

Their 9-year-old daughter, Mariah, personifies personality with a smile that could light up Walton Arena. She interviewed her dad in 2018 during the NCAA Tournament, and the two-minute clip went viral.

So it won't be surprising if Yurachek looks for the football equivalent of Eric Musselman, whose intense enthusiasm and dedication to defend every inch of the 94-foot court personify "Mussel Hustle."

Musselman has thrown open the doors to the program and made former players feel welcome, regardless of who coached them.

From Day One, Musselman has respected Razorback history and understood the fan base's pride and passion.

Yurachek will make the most important hire of his career a success if he can find the football equivalent of Musselman.

Yurachek needs an unconventional coach in the conventional world of the SEC. The hire can't just run a hurry-up, no-huddle offense because the majority of college teams run a similar system now.

It is no longer cutting edge. Teams practice against it every day.

Yurachek has time to find the right fit.

Last week, the name Butch Jones came up after a Birmingham TV station said the former Tennessee coach and current Alabama adviser was involved.

That was a plant. Someone did that to get Jones' name in the news.

Hugh Freeze is clear from the NCAA, but the SEC might not feel as though enough time has passed.

Lane Kiffin is another name being debated among fans, but he might be like Jones, trying to get his name linked with Arkansas so he can get involved with Florida State.

Mike Leach has had success at two Power Five schools. One was Texas Tech, where he recruited the heck out of Texas, but he's pretty established at Washington State.

There have been other names, mostly from mid-major or smaller programs.

But no name is official until Yurachek releases it, and that will happen the day someone is hired.

If past performance is the best indicator of future performance, Yurachek has a solid list and is looking for someone who gets it when it comes to respecting the pride and passion of the Razorbacks.

Sports on 11/19/2019

Print Headline: Musselman reason enough to trust Yurachek


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