Arkansas AD may stay in-house to preserve off-season work

If Arkansas stays in-house to hire its next football coach, one reason will be the work the assistants have put into preparing for the 2012 season.

If you’re going to bring in a permanent coach, they have no time to install the system,” Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long told on Saturday “That’s wearing on me because the young men and program have really prepared themselves for an excellent year. The thought of changing the system that it took all spring practice to install has impacted my decision.

Long has been conducting a national search for a coach to replace Bobby Petrino, who was fired April 10. Petrino was fired after making inappropriate hires and the subsequent cover-up inside the athletic department.

Arkansas finished 11-2 last season with a 6-2 Southeastern Conference record. Many preseason football polls have pegged the Razorbacks as a possible national championship contender.

The names of Steve Mariucci, Pete Carroll, Phil Fulmer, Tommy Bowden and former Arkansas assistant Garrick McGee have been mentioned as possible successors. However, Long has not commented on the interviews or the candidates.

Among the in-house candidates are interim head coach Taver Johnson and running backs coach Tim Horton.

Long said he hoped to have a decision on a new coach as soon as this week.

It’s not weeks, Long said. I’m hoping to make this decision in days rather than weeks at this point.