Hog fans should enjoy Morris’ Razorback honeymoon

Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek (left) joins newly hired head football coach Chad Morris (right) and his family for the group’s first ever public Hog Call during a press event held Thursday, Dec. 7.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer staff

As an Arkansas Razorback fan, I’m in the left-hand lane, I’ve popped the clutch, I’ve got the hammer down, and I’m ready to have fun.

I’m not a dancer, but if I were “full-tilt boogie” sounds like the way to do it.

Yes, I’m energized and enthused about Arkansas’ new hire as football coach, Chad Morris.

Heck, as an old codger, I even liked that he asked the players to sit up straight and to pay attention when he introduced himself to the Razorbacks players on Tuesday. That speech to the returning Razorbacks is available to stream on Arkansasrazorbacks.com, and it’s worth watching as is Morris’ on-the-plane interview with Arkansas’ in-house reporter.

So, yes, I’m excited about the new hire beyond the coaching search just being over.

If you are a Razorback fan there is really no other way to be. It’s time to get behind the new coach, support him, and be excited about the football team again.

The last year as a Hog football fan was morose, but the change everyone had been clamoring for has been made, and the new coach has a high-octane offensive style that puts plenty of points on the board, and that seems to be what most wanted out of a coach.

His name isn’t Gus Malzahn, but he probably knows Gus better than most in Northwest Arkansas who swore up and down that THE Auburn coach was a sure bet to make a second coming On the Hill to save the Hogs. Morris even studied the game with Gus just after the turn of the century here in Northwest Arkansas for a couple of weeks and was one of the key figures in igniting the fire behind the Spread offense that now dominates high school football in Lone Star State.

Football should be fun again at Arkansas, at least during the offseason before there is any actually on-the-field action to get upset about. Hog fans should be in lockstep behind the coach at this point. He deserves that much for assuming the job that is ahead of him.

Fans should be fans at this point, and let the media be the critics. Naysayers should hold it in for the moment, and let everyone else have their fun during this courtship period between the new coach and Arkansas fans.

If you think that’s being pollyannaish, you are right. It is, but there really is no other time than now for Hog fans to truly feel all warm and fuzzy about their coach. Every coach should get a honeymoon with the fanbase, and fans should get to have one with their new coach.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer staff

Arkansas’ fans don’t need to be anything like the arsonists that lit that dumpster fire over in Knoxville, Tenn.

That was indeed caustic, and it knocked the Vols way down the pecking order in hiring their head coach. Tennessee settled on perhaps their eighth choice when it made Jeremy Pruitt the latest of Nick Saban’s coordinators to snare a head coaching job in the SEC.

Morris probably could have had the Tennessee job had he truly wanted it, but with his ties to Texas, he opted for the job that at least geographically fit him and his family best.

Morris is truly revered by high school football coaches in the Southwest region, and he spoke eloquently and enthusiastically about the respect he and his program has for high school coaches during his introductory press conference on Thursday.

I’ve never heard a college coach ask high school coaches to make sure they get something out of the recruiting visits before. It makes it a give-and-take relationship. That was a great look into Morris’ attitude toward relationships, which is what recruiting is all about.

Now, as a fan, do I have questions or concerns about Morris?

Sure, I do.

Personally, I’m more concerned about the type of defense Arkansas is going to play than the style of offense. That was a general concern before Morris was hired.

When I look back over Arkansas’ tenure in the SEC, I don’t see the offense being as big an issue as the Razorbacks’ incapability of playing high-level defense on a consistent basis. I wanted a coach that was going to do more than just pay lip service to playing solid defense.

That’s a major concern to me as a fan, but I’m not going to let it keep me from being excited about the Hogs’ future under Morris.

One thing I’m not worried about his his 14-22 head coaching record at SMU. It’s not a concern to me because SMU improved each season under his direction, and,if you look at Morris’ resume, the football improved everywhere he went. And, improvement is what we all want to see.

I am very interested in who he is able to hire as defensive coordinator. How much Arkansas is willing to spend will dictate the choiced he has.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer staff

I’m not sure that is was the wisest thing to say that he is going to hire the “best” defensive coordinator when speaking to his team. Of course, exactly who is the best defensive coordinator in college football is subjective, but grandiose statements like that do tend to come back and bite coaches.

But, let’s see who he hires and how much the defense improves before holding that statement against him.

As for saying Arkansas is going to win championships, I wouldn’t want a coach who could not say that convincingly in his introductory press conference.

His statement to the players that he had a blueprint for a championship was great, but when he followed that with saying Clemson was right where Arkansas is at today seven years ago, I don’t know. He probably should have been saved that for the fans. Even the redshirts at that meeting only have four season of eligibility left. The rising seniors and juniors are concerned about next year.

Too bad there’s not a Brandon Burlsworth-type around to go tell Morris that the seniors don’t want to hear about rebuilding. They want to hear about winning right now.

I’m also interested in seeing if Morris retains any members of former coach Bret Bielema’s staff, or if he will seek out coaches that have ties to the Razorbacks. Neither are necessary, but as a Hog fan, I’d like to see Barry Lunney Jr. remain with the Razorbacks if that is his desire. The return of Tim Horton to the staff would be welcomedt, too. However, with the way things are cooking at Auburn, Horton might want to stick around The Plains for a title run this coming season.

None of that may be in Morris’ plans, and that’s fine. He needs to select the staff that fits his needs, and not be worried about creating a fantasy-camp staff for a Hog fans like me.

As a Hog fan, though, I’m going to give Morris the benefit of the doubt and enjoy this honeymoon season.

I like his energy and his earnestness. It really reminds me quite of bit of Ken Hatfield, who still has the best winning percentage of any Razorback football coach. Morris feels like a good hire. As Hog fans, let’s enjoy it.