The die seems cast with Musselman interviewing for USC job

Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman is seen on the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
UPDATE 4/4/24: Musselman was announced as the new head coach at USC on Thursday.

Everyone who has ever managed talent can empathize with Arkansas Razorbacks athletics director Hunter Yurachek right now.

It’s great to work with and manage ultra-talented people because of what they can achieve, but it often can be very stressful, too. Sometimes talent brings with it a temperament that can at times make even the simple things hard.

Talent can solve problems, but it can also create them. Sometimes managing talent can make a stressful job even more stressful.

High-level talent always has options, and options create leverage that can be used in positive and negative ways.

Sometimes when talent uses its leverage against management in certain situations, enough becomes enough.

While on one hand you could like that this force of nature continues to blow success your way, but on the other hand, you might find some relief if the collateral ramifications of dealing with that talent would just go away.

I may be reading too much into a comical social-media skit involving Yurachek and Arkansas head basketball coach (at least for the moment) Eric Musselman that the UA posted and a podcast interview Yurachek participated in with a California media group, but it seems the relationship between Musselman and Yurachek has frayed to the degree that Yurachek is ambivalent about the results of Musselman’s interview for the Southern California head basketball job that reportedly will happen today.

Usually a coach at a Power Five-level job will not go to another campus to interview for a job unless it is all but a done deal.

Those that remember former Razorback football coach Houston Nutt’s dalliance with Nebraska after the 2003 football season in which he almost boarded a plane to Lincoln, Neb., but was enticed to stay.

Had Nutt gotten on that plane, he wouldn’t have come back as Arkansas’ coach.

I don’t think Musselman will be returning to Northwest Arkansas as the Razorbacks head coach. There won’t be a last-second change of heart.

I would not be surprised if USC announced Musselman as their head coach sometime within the next 24 hours.

There have been rumors of Musselman’s interest in other jobs since late January. His name was mentioned in connection with Louisville and SMU’s opening as well as the one people foresaw coming open at USC.

Musselman is a Southern California guy. His mom lives in San Diego. He has other family and friends out there as well. Though he acts much younger, he will be 60 years old this November. This would be a decent time for a move. Maybe his last?

While Musselman was doing his due diligence recruiting for Arkansas since the end of a disappointing season, there was so much smoke behind the scenes and chatter among Hog boosters and media that Musselman’s possible (probable?) departure isn’t much of a surprise.

This Musselman-Yurachek rift has somewhat played out like the last weeks of Eddie Sutton’s tenure as head basketball coach at Arkansas in 1985, although the particulars are very different. Sutton’s name was connected to the Auburn job before things cooled down a bit. Then he took the Kentucky job after interviewing during the Final Four.

Sutton and then Arkansas athletics director Frank Broyles had been feuding over Sutton’s alcohol abuse issues. Broyles wanted him to go to rehab, but Sutton said no, no, no. But that’s ancient history.

Since I’m already hitching the horse before the coach, who are some options for the Razorbacks’ job?

Chris Beard is a name that will no doubt be mentioned because of his previous connection to the state as the head coach at Arkansas Little Rock but more importantly because he is a fantastic coach.

Beard had been desired at Arkansas when Musselman was hired, but he was coming off a Final Four appearance at Texas Tech at the time.

Arkansas is a better job than the one he has at Ole Miss. There is more potential. Beard just got an extension from the Rebels, but evidently, he will be someone Arkansas would go after if/when there is an opening.

Kansas State coach Jerome Tang could be a great fit. Former LSU coach and current McNeese State coach Will Wade will likely be a candidate, too, if it goes that far. Hey, paying players is virtually legal now with NIL.

Wade would take some getting used to for most Hog fans, but as Eagles drummer Don Henley once said about the band’s agent Irving Azoff, “He’s Satan, but he’s our Satan.”

No doubt there are other qualified candidates out there, too, but one would think that Yurachek has already laid some groundwork to make a quick move, considering his social media post a few days ago.

Often deals are struck at the Final Four where the National Association of Basketball has its annual convention. Hopefully this all will be resolved relatively quickly.

This is a time when Razorback fans should be able to focus on their No. 1-ranked baseball team and spring football practice.