Big weekend in the SEC
First and foremost, Arkansas Razorbacks Head Coach Bobby Petrino agreed to a new contract. The seven-year agreement raises his salary from $2.7 million per year to $3.56 million and includes an $18 million buyout clause that comes into play should Petrino get fired or leave the University of Arkansas. The amount of the buyout clause shrinks throughout the contract until the amount is $3.9 million in 2017.
Additionally, the non-compete clause is extended under the new contract. In the current one, Petrino is prohibited from leaving Arkansas for another school in the SEC West. The new non-compete clause prohibits Petrino from heading to any SEC school should he leave the university while the contract is in force.
That’s a great idea for a number of reasons. As all Razorbacks fans know, former Head Coach Houston Nutt fled Arkansas in 2007 before the pitchforks and torches crowd could get to him and wound up at Ole Miss. There’s been a fear lately that Petrino would leave the Hogs and head to the University of Florida.
Yes, Urban Meyer resigned from Florida last week and Razorbacks fans started wondering whether Petrino was a candidate for that job. Petrino has done a great job in his three years here. He took a Razorbacks team that was a complete mess and, within three years, led the team to a 10-win season and has the Hogs heading to its first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl — the Sugar Bowl against Ohio State on Jan. 4.
Still, Petrino does have a tendency to wander. He spent four seasons at Louisville and led that team to an Orange Bowl victory in 2006. He left Louisville to coach the Atlanta Falcons and left that job partway through the season to take the Razorbacks job.
Interestingly enough, a lot of Arkansans question why a “quality coach” would hang around this state for too long. Shame on them. Here’s hoping Petrino likes it here well enough to stick around for a few years and build a top-tier team. Some have argued that Fayetteville doesn’t have much to offer athletes, but think about this — how is that city inferior to Norman, Okla., or South Bend, Ind.? A winning, powerhouse team will attract recruits. That’s been proven time and time again.
So, Petrino has agreed to a new contract. Florida put an end to any questions about which coach it might hire by announcing Saturday that Texas Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp had taken the job. Hey, the announcement was a bit of a surprise, but we’re talking about a team that is typically a contender for the SEC championship and has won its share of national championships. Florida, then, appears to know what it’s doing and Muschamp is nothing to sneeze at, having put together monster defenses at Texas.
Ah, but that wasn’t all of the news from this weekend. No, Vanderbilt is still looking for a new head coach to replace Robbie Caldwell who resigned last month. ESPN reports that Vanderbilt offered the job last week to Auburn Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn. The ESPN report goes on to say Maryland Offensive Coordinator James Franklin will probably be offered the job if Malzahn declines.
Meanwhile, the AP reported that Vanderbilt Chancellor David Williams said Sunday that no new head coach had been named, but the college hopes to make an announcement in the next day or two. In other words, stay tuned.
Malzahn, of course, has Arkansas ties to spare. He put together some great high school football teams as Springdale and Shiloh Christian. He spent a year as the offensive coordinator for Arkansas before heading to Tulsa and then to Auburn. Yes, there are plenty of rumors floating around claiming that Malzahn is headed to Vanderbilt, but we’ll wait until hearing an official announcement before we get too worked up over it (update: the official word is in and Malzahn is staying at Auburn).
Truth be told, Malzahn may well be preoccupied with his gig at Auburn right now. The team went undefeated, after all, and will face Oregon on Jan. 10 in the BCS National Championship game.
Oh, and speaking of Auburn — quarterback Cam Newton was presented the Heisman Trophy on Saturday. While there have been a few controversies surrounding the player, it’s hard to argue against the fact that he’s one of the best footballers in the game.
And all this on a weekend with no football? Well, that’s life in the SEC, isn’t it?
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.