After its second embarrassing home loss to another non-conference opponent, Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek fired football coach Chad Morris on Sunday. Morris had a winning percentage of .182, the worst of any Razorback head coach. He was 4-18 overall.
Arkansas was a 1-point favorite to beat Western Kentucky at home on Saturday. The Razorbacks were trounced by the Hilltoppers, 45-19. The beating came six games after Arkansas was spanked by San Jose State at home, 31-24. The Razorbacks were 21.5-point favorites in that game.
After the Western Kentucky defeat, Morris told reporters that turning the program around won’t happen immediately.
“It’s going to take some time,” Morris said. “It’s not an overnight fix. We’re all frustrated. We’re all incredibly frustrated. We have a big youth movement on this team, and a lot of young guys who are contributing. They’re going to be tremendous football players. But where we are right now with these guys, we have some major deficiencies that we have to fix and we have to fill.”
One reporter asked if Morris thought he could fix the program.
“I am the guy,” Morris said. “There’s no question. I knew this was going to take some time. I knew this was going to be a process of recruiting and developing, and building, especially in this conference.”
Chad Morris Not the Guy
Apparently Yurachek didn’t agree. He fired Morris a day later, saying in a statement it was time for a change.
“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,” Yurachek said. “It is clear that we have not made the progress necessary to compete and win, especially within the Southeastern Conference.”
Morris had not won an SEC game in the nearly two years he was at the helm at Arkansas. He was 0-14 against SEC opponents.
In five conference games this season, the Razorbacks were outscored, 239-105. The losses included a 48-7 defeat to Alabama, and a 51-10 beating by Auburn.
SEC Top Heavy, Lower-Tier Teams Struggle
It is a clear case of the haves and have-nots in the SEC. The AP College Football Top-25 Poll features five SEC teams, three of whom are in the top 10.
While LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, and Florida are all having strong seasons, some of the other teams in the SEC are dragging the conference down a bit.
Arkansas was the biggest drag, with a 2-8 record, but other SEC cellar dwellers have provided dubious moments this season. South Carolina shocked Georgia a month ago, but they also have two embarrassing losses. The first was in their opener, when they were 11.5-point favorites over North Carolina, and lost outright, 24-20. The second was on Saturday against Appalachian State. The Gamecocks were laying seven points to the Mountaineers at home, and lost, 20-15.
Other SEC teams have lost to non-conference opponents when they were favored. Missouri was a 17.5-point pick against Wyoming, and lost, 37-31. Tennessee was a 24.5-point favorite at home against Georgia State, and got beat, 38-30. They also lost the following week to BYU, as a 3-point selection. Mississippi was a 3-point favorite at home against Cal, and lost, 28-20.
While the firing of Morris was expected, there are a couple of other SEC coaches that could be soon looking for work as Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason and Missouri’s Barry Odom are both rumored to be on the hot seat.