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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Peterson ready to 'pass the baton' at UAPB

by Wally Hall | February 17, 2021 at 2:46 a.m.

From the very start, Chris Peterson's long-term plan was short.

The day before he accepted the job as athletic director at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, he said at his age (sixty-something) what he hoped to do was help financially and to find his long-term replacement.

Within a week of taking the job, he had found the right person while needing only a campus-wide search.

Chris Robinson was already on campus, having been an assistant coach, and was serving as the interim assistant AD.

Robinson was named the interim AD on Monday when Peterson announced his retirement.

It will be up to Chancellor Laurence Alexander and his search committee to make the final decision.

Peterson -- who also served as the athletic director at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and an assistant AD at Kansas State, Nebraska and Creighton -- said this more than a year ago:

"Chris [Robinson] is double-edge sharp. He just needs a little fine-tuning."

Robinson is a graduate of UAPB, where he was the starting quarterback on the football team, and his master's degree is from MidAmerica Nazarene University in Kansas.

He's well liked and respected in the community.

Peterson didn't know his stay would be just a little more than a year, but within a month he ran into covid-19.

"I was everything that virus was looking for," he said. "I have an underlying health issue and I was more than 65, making it almost impossible to meet with people about the future of the Golden Lions."

Peterson turned most of his attention to passing on his experience to Robinson.

"Monday was a sad day for me," Peterson said. "I worked for some great people, but it was time to pass the baton."

It didn't come as a shock that the University of Central Florida and new Athletic Director Terry Mohajir hired Gus Malzahn to be the Knights head football coach.

It was hinted here a week ago that was a strong possibility.

Whether you like Malzahn or not, he has won everywhere he has coached.

In December, he became another head coach fired or run off by Auburn, where he had a 68-35 record in eight seasons but was the only SEC coach to beat Alabama and Nick Saban three times.

Most coaches are winless against Saban.

When Malzahn was fired, he received more than a $21 million buyout from Auburn with $10 million coming within the first 30 days.

His five-year contract at Central Florida is worth $2.3 million annually.

Mohajir was hired to be the UCF athletic director after Danny White took the same job at Tennessee. White took Josh Huepel with him as his head football coach.

Malzahn is from Fort Smith and is in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Our man Bob Holt was ready for the Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team to make it into The Associated Press Top 25 poll.

He had done the research, and if you missed it in Tuesday's paper (if you read us on a tablet, you can just go back), it is only the fourth time in 20 years the Razorbacks have been ranked.

Go back 20-something years before that when Eddie Sutton and Nolan Richardson were the head coach, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a time when the Hogs weren't ranked.

Not going to say there is a direct correlation between those years after Richardson left, but Kansas -- where Arkansas' former athletic director is working now -- is struggling more than in previous years.

The Razorbacks' return to the Top 25 is good for the program, good for the SEC and good for college basketball.


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