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We’re playing, right?

College football, I mean.

If so, here’s some college coaches with Arkansas ties you’ll likely see on the sidelines as you search desperately for games this fall on your TV.

RHETT LASHLEE, offensive coordinator, Miami

Manny Diaz knew shortly after he was named head coach at Miami he needed someone young and innovated to ignite a stagnant offense. He chose Lashlee, who guided an offense at Southern Methodist last season that averaged 41.8 points a game.

“We are excited to see how Rhett will look to spread the ball around and utilize our athletes on the offensive side of the ball,” Diaz said of the former quarterback from Shiloh Christian.

Since 2016, Lashlee has coached at such far-ranging programs as Auburn, Connecticut, SMU,and now Miami. Lashlee is still only 37 and he’ll move closer to a head coaching opportunity with any success at Miami.

TIM HORTON, running backs coach, Vanderbilt

Years ago, another reporter and I stood like stooges on the University of Arkansas campus unsure of the building where Danny Ford decided to hold Media Day before the start of the season. Sensing we were lost, a young man in street clothes walked up and asked about our destination. He then guided us to where we needed to be.

That young man was Tim Horton, who made second-team All-Southwest Conference as a senior and helped the Razorbacks to a 38-11 record in the four years he played at Arkansas from 1986-89.

Horton remains a class act and he was popular with high school coaches in our state when he was an assistant coach with the Razorbacks. Bret Bielema’s first mistake was not keeping Horton on staff after Bielema was hired at Arkansas.

KODI BURNS, wide receivers coach, Auburn

I still remember Burns at Fort Smith Northside, where put on a dazzling display as a dual-threat quarterback for the Grizzlies. Burns went to Auburn, where he moved to wide receiver as a senior and caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton when Auburn beat Oregon 22-19 for the national championship in 2011.

Burns, 31, is also the passing game coordinator at Auburn, whose offense should be better after struggling at times with Bo Nix as a true freshman at quarterback.

BARRY LUNNEY JR., offensive coordinator, Texas-San Antonio

Lunney was snatched up quickly at Texas-San Antonio after he left Arkansas, where Sam Pittman was hired to replace Chad Morris.

Lunney did a good job at Arkansas and he coached the team’s deepest position at tight end. Texas-San Antonio is a member of Conference USA and you can catch Lunney calling plays when the Roadrunners play Memphis and Army on national TV later this season.

GUS MALZAHN, head coach, Auburn

I almost drove my truck into a ditch while listening to radio hosts discuss the possibility of Arkansas beating LSU or Auburn this season.

They called it a debate. I call it ‘Day Drinkin’.

I’ve never fully understood the disdain some folks from Arkansas have for Malzahn, who’s beaten Alabama three times since Nick Saban has been the coach. I do know Arkansas wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in had Malzahn been hired instead of Bielema in 2013. Bielema had a more complete resume at the time, but isn’t it the job of people who do the hiring to spot talent and potential that others overlook?

Terry Don Phillips, who once served as an associate athletic director at Arkansas, did just that in 2008 when he promoted a 38-year-old receivers coach to become head coach at Clemson. That man is Dabo Swinney, who is 130-31 with two national championships at Clemson.

ELI DRINKWITZ, head coach, Missouri

The fast lane that is SEC football got a lot more hazardous for Drinkwitz when the league added Alabama and LSU to the Tigers’ schedule this season.

Instead of complaining, Drinkwitz responded by saying he came to Missouri to play the best. That’s the dog in Drinkwitz, who was an all-state linebacker with the Alma Airedales in high school. Drinkwitz earned his chance as a head coach by his work as an offensive coordinator at Boise State and North Carolina.

RICK JONES, senior consultant, Missouri

What’s a guy to do after winning eight state championships in 16 years as a high school coach at Greenwood?

He heads back to college at Missouri, where Jones is listed as a senior consultant to Drinkwitz, the head coach. Jones likely won’t be visible on the sidelines, but he’ll be a valuable asset to the coaches and players at Missouri.

Not only was Jones highly-successful as a head coach, he’ll lead and motivate young people with his positive attitude. He’s just what college football needs.

Print Headline: Arkansas links strong in college coaching

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