Now, Morris will have to assemble his coaching staff, and he's expected to target a big-name defensive coordinator in Clemson's Brent Venables.
SMU coach Chad Morris has emerged as the top target of a program that let go of Bret Bielema on November 24 - shortly after closing out a 4-8 (1-7 SEC) season - and a deal will be done in the next 24 hours. Prior to SMU, Morris had an ultra-successful run as Clemson's offensive coordinator. His Mustangs are slated to compete in the Frisco Bowl this year after posting a 7-5 record.
Hunter Yurachek was named Arkansas new athletic director on Monday, so it makes sense the search for a football coach will ramp up now. SMU ranks among the top 15 in the FBS in scoring offense (40.2 points), total offense (493.8 yards) and passing yards (308 yards). Though his SMU record is only 14-22, Morris inherited Mustangs off a 1-11 season and incrementally improved them to 2-10 then to 5-7 and this season to 7-5 with the Hawaii Bowl still to play on Christmas Eve against Fresno State. Long was the man who hired Bielema away from Wisconsin following the 2012 regular season in what was considered a major coup for the Razorbacks at the time.
The Razorbacks have been scouring the coaching market since firing Bret Bielema on November 24 following a 4-8 season in 2017. However, Bielema just could not get Arkansas over the hump in the SEC West. It worked for Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Memphis' Mike Norvell this year, coincidentally or not, as Arkansas also looked for a new athletic director. However, Norvell Tuesday signed a $13 million extension to his contract at Memphis through 2022.