Now that Bobby Petrino has dirtbagged his way out of Fayetteville, the Arkansas head coaching job is open, and it didn't take very long for USF coach Skip Holtz's name to land in the rumor mill. I would have liked for it to have come from someone far less credible than Bruce Feldman so that we could laugh it off, but that isn't the case.
The early buzz is that, if UA does indeed eschew an interim coach and instead hires a permanent replacement, the son of Lou Holtz becomes an instant front-runner.
There's some uncertainty about whether Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long would cut his losses and hire/keep an interim coach for the 2012 season, and then go out and do a full-on search in December. (At which point, you have to figure Gus Malzahn gets the first crack at the job.) But if Long wants a permanent coach now, the Holtz rumor is plausible. Lou Holtz coached at Arkansas for seven years, finishing in the AP top 11 four times and winning the Orange Bowl after his first season replacing Frank Broyles. Skip spent his junior high and high school years in Fayetteville and ended up graduating from high school there. And as Greg Auman points out, it wouldn't be the first time Skip was interested in a job that held some nostalgic value.
I get the feeling Holtz would listen to Arkansas if they asked him. I don't think his 13-12 record so far at USF would do much to placate the rabid, possibly irrational Razorback fans -- and if Holtz wants to hear all about those expectations, he can just walk over to Muma and talk to Stan Heath about them. But it's a much better job, it's in the SEC (there's a possibly apocryphal story where Lou thinks SEC coaching jobs are the only ones worth having, and at the very least he would have Skip's ear on this), they pay a lot better, he could recruit much more easily, and Arkansas isn't about to be shoved into a broom closet with regards to prestige and national relevance like USF Is.
On this end, if Holtz were to be asked and accept, it would leave USF with the extremely unenviable scenario of Doug Woolard, hiring a new football coach, in April. This is not something that should inspire much confidence. Or any confidence, really. Not that Skip has done a bang-up job in Tampa so far, but it could be a whole lot worse. For instance, we haven't been through a coaching search in the #RonP4 era.
Skip will address the media this morning after practice, where this topic might come up. But he's good at handling these situations, so don't expect anything revealing or inflammatory.