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Tipsheet: Arkansas cashiers Chad Morris, starts coaching search

Tipsheet: Arkansas cashiers Chad Morris, starts coaching search

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Arkansas coach Chad Morris remained undaunted to the end, insisting he was "absolutely" the man to return the Razorbacks to football prominence.

“I knew this was going to be a rebuild,” he told reporters after his team absorbed a 45-19 flogging from Western Kentucky at home Saturday. “I knew it when I took the job. I knew from just looking at all the other SEC programs and what we have to get and where we have to recruit to get this program where it needs to be. Part of the reason I got the job was because of our recruiting and footprint, and that hasn’t changed. We’ve got to continue to recruit and we’ve got to continue to develop. It’s going to take some time.

“Everybody’s frustrated with that, and I get it. I am, too. But I also understand that to get this thing right, it’s going to take some time in this league.”

Morris officially ran out of time Sunday when the school announced his widely anticipated dismissal. Assistant coach Barry Lunney Jr. takes over as interim coach for the remaining games at LSU and at home to Mizzou.

Here are some fun facts about the Hogs:

  • They lost 14 of 18 games overall under Morris and went winless in SEC play. Their overall SEC losing streak is up to 17 games.
  • They gave 45 or more points in their last four losses and were outscored by 138 points in those games.
  • This is their fourth consecutive losing season in conference play.
  • Former Arkansas quarterback Ty Storey, now at Western Kentucky, lit them up for 213 yards and a touchdown passing and 77 yards and two TDs running Saturday.

The current Arkansas quarterback is redshirt freshman John Stephen Jones, the grandson of former Razorback Jerry Jones. So there's a pretty good chance that Jerry was among those leading the alumni charge against Morris.

Arkansas will owe him nearly $10 million in severance. The school remains in a dispute with former coach Bret Bielema over his $11.9 million buyout.

Among the top candidates to replace Morris are Gus Malzahn -- should he and Auburn finally part ways -- and Memphis coach Mike Norvell.

Edgy Missouri fans are following this closely. The Tigers might need to beat Arkansas in their finale to become bowl-eligible, assuming the NCAA reverses its postseason ban.

And if Mizzou athletic director Jim Sterk decides to replace coach Barry Odom -- something he is not eager to do -- then he could end up competing with Arkansas for his next hire.

THE GRIDIRON CHRONICLES

Here is what folks are writing about college football:

David Hale, ESPN.com: "Imagine a world where Ed Orgeron utterly outcoached Nick Saban. Imagine, if you will, a place where P.J. Fleck doesn't just have Minnesota rowing the boat, but partying aboard a boat heisted from some Rick Ross video. Imagine waking up to find that a team -- the defending national champion, actually -- has a clear shot to the playoff without having played a single opponent likely to be ranked in the top 25. Close your eyes and envision a scenario in which a team that, just two years ago, finished 1-11 -- and is now among the final five unbeatens. Or a scenario where Lovie Smith is going bowling, where an SEC team gets housed at home by San Jose State and Western Kentucky in the same season, where Texas is celebrating another last-second win over a team from Kansas, and where Appalachian State owns both North and South Carolina. Welcome to Bizarro College Football. Saturday was supposed to separate the men from the boys on the field, and it certainly did that. The results, however, have shaken the very fabric of the college football universe, a disruption in the space-Tide continuum, where up is down and Alabama's playoff hopes are on life support."

Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com: "The 58-year-old, pot-bellied coach was crying at midfield, an arm around his equally leaky wife. His children were pulled close. Those tears streaming down Ed Orgeron's face reflected equal parts relief, joy and certainty.  'I thought all week we were the better football team,' LSU's coach said. He said it at least three or four times in the aftermath of No. 2 LSU's historic 46-41 win at No. 3 Alabama. That's the thing about Orgeron. He hides nothing. The night before the Georgia game last year, he came into the team hotel and tore off his shirt in an attempt to motivate the Tigers. That harkened back to his days at USC when he performed the same act in a team meeting. That act is preserved somewhere on YouTube. Saturday, though, was a performance for the ages. 'This won't be the first. It won't be the last. We're coming,' Orgeron promised. The Tigers (9-0) have arrived. Saturday proved they've caught the Crimson Tide. Not necessarily from behind, either. In addition to running away from Alabama, LSU smacked it in the mouth in the latest Game of the Century."

Pete Fiutak, College Football News: "Is the Heisman race over? Unless there’s a total meltdown, who else could possibly overtake Joe Burrow from here on? Jalen Hurts? Maybe, but would blowing away Baylor – if that happens – be enough? Justin Fields deserves consideration, but that’s not happening. Chase Young is effectively done, and so is Tua Tagovailoa. If Burrow does this for a few more games, and if LSU goes to the College Football Playoff, this could be an all-timer of a landslide."

Pat Forde, SI.com: "Now we’re going to find out if the College Football Playoff can function without Alabama. In its five years of existence, we’ve never played one without the Crimson Tide. But we likely will this season, after ‘Bama was busted by LSU by the very 2019 score of 46-41. Alabama has no quality wins, unless you’re feeling generous about 6-3 Texas A&M. It likely will have just one more opportunity to get one, at Auburn on Nov. 30. LSU would have to lose twice to give the Tide a shot at the SEC West title and a berth in the league title game, and that isn’t happening given what the Tigers have left. The best ‘Bama can finish is 11-1, and it would be a soft 11-1. It would include a loss in which the mighty Crimson Tide surrendered their most points in a game since 1970 (48 to Mississippi) and most points surrendered in Tuscaloosa since … I am not making this up … 1907 (54 to mighty Sewanee). The body of work is soft when your non-conference schedule consists of Duke, New Mexico State, Southern Mississippi and Western Carolina—none of which were in the top 50 of the Sagarin Ratings heading into Saturday. It is soft when your SEC crossover opponents are South Carolina and Tennessee, the former of whom lost for the sixth time this season Saturday, and both of whom have losses to Sun Belt opponents. It is soft when the distance between the top four in the West and the bottom three is a chasm."

Dan WolkenUSA Today: "Because it’s Alabama — and only because it’s Alabama — this is going to be more complicated than it needs to be. If we lived in a logical world, Saturday's 46-41 loss to LSU would be case closed. Alabama, which does not own a win against a top-25 team much less a good team, won't win the SEC or even the SEC West and lost at home in the game it needed to win, should not be in the College Football Playoff. Barring some sort of nationwide catastrophe, there are going to be enough good options for the selection committee among a group of teams who have played better opponents and won conference titles that Alabama should be outside the very fringe of that discussion. And yet, we know what's going to happen over the next month. The SEC propaganda machine is going to kick into high gear, the excuses are going to flow in and the benefit of the doubt that the college football establishment gives exclusively to Alabama will creep into the discussion."

MEGAPHONE

"You know when I felt it? When I got on the plane. I felt like, 'You know what, we got 'em. We finally got the tools that we need. We finally got the players that we need. We finally got the coaching staff that we need to beat these guys.'"

• LSU coach Ed Orgeron, to reporters after beating Alabama.

Jeff Gordon is an online sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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