Arkansas fires head football coach Chad Morris

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Arkansas has fired Chad Morris as its head football coach, school officials confirmed Sunday.

The news was announced one day after the team’s 45-19 home loss to Western Kentucky.

Tight ends coach/special-teams coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. will serve as interim coach for the team’s final two games against LSU on Nov. 23 and Missouri on Nov. 29.

Morris was hired from SMU in December 2017 and was in his second season as head coach of the team. The Razorbacks had a 4-18 record in Morris’ tenure at Arkansas, including a 2-8 record this season.

“As part of my continued evaluation, I have come to the conclusion that a change in leadership is necessary to move our football program forward and position it for success,” said UA athletics director Hunter Yurachek. “It is clear that we have not made the progress necessary to compete and win, especially within the Southeastern Conference. Throughout our history in football, as well as with our other sport programs, we have demonstrated that the University of Arkansas is capable of being nationally competitive. I have no doubt that as we move forward, we will identify a head coach that will help lead our program to that benchmark.

“I want to express my personal and professional regard to Coach Morris and thank him for his investment in the lives of our student-athletes.”

Yurachek said a national search for the next head football coach will begin immediately.

According to the terms of Morris’ six-year, $21 million contract, the school will owe him over $10 million in severance pay, which is 70% of his remaining compensation.

Morris coached high school football in Texas, where he won three state titles as a prep coach. He broke into college coaching as the offensive coordinator at Tulsa in 2010, two seasons after his mentor Gus Malzahn held the role. In 2011 Clemson hired Morris away from Tulsa, and a championship run in the ACC began with Morris in charge of the offense before he left for SMU. There, he took the Mustangs from a 2-10 record in his first year to a 5-7 record his second year, and then a 7-5 record in year three before accepting the Arkansas job.