By Otis Kirk
Arkansas coach Chad Morris was hired away from SMU, but had history changed he might have been coaching against the Razorbacks at one time.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron told a story on Wednesday’s SEC Teleconference about the time he considered Morris for an assistant coaching job at Ole Miss. Orgeron was the head coach in Oxford from 2005-07. While recruiting Stephenville (Texas) quarterback a prospect at the school he also considered Morris.
“I recruited Jevan Snead, his quarterback,” Orgeron said. “He was at Stephenville. I interviewed him at the Waffle House in Oxford. I ended up hiring Hugh Freeze instead. But I always had a good relationship with Coach Morris.
“I think he’s an excellent coach. He’s an excellent recruiter. He knows everybody in Texas. He did a tremendous job at Clemson. I consider him a friend and I know he’s going to have a lot of success there.”
Morris was asked about his memory of the interview?
“Yeah, it was at the Waffle House and I actually ended up at his house as well,” Morris said. “I went out there as well. As I think back on it I want to say that Hugh was already on his staff. But anyway we did, yes. I went up there with Jevan. Actually, Jevan went on an official visit up there and called me and said, ‘Coach, I need you to come up here.’ I got on a plane and flew up there and went through the rest of the official visit with him.
“I went to an interview with Coach Orgeron and the whole bit. I did wind up having another followup interview at the ACA convention down in San Antonio. It was after our Texas High School social that he was involved in and we had a chance to visit.”
You didn’t get the job so does that ever come up in discussions now with Orgeron?
“I remind him of that every now and then when I see him that he didn’t hire me,” Morris said. “So he said ‘It worked out pretty good anyway.’ It’s all good. Coach has done a fabulous job everywhere he’s been.”
Not only did Morris not get the job, but Orgeron didn’t get Snead initially either. Following the 2005 season, Vince Young declared for the NFL Draft. Snead then signed with Texas where he played as a true freshman in 2006. However, Snead was behind Colt McCoy at quarterback in Austin so he transferred to Ole Miss. He redshirted in 2007 and actually ended up playing for Houston Nutt since Orgeron was fired following the 2007 season.
Morris was also asked what position Orgeron interviewed him to coach with the Rebels?
“It was wide receivers I believe,” Morris said. “It and tight ends. Might have been tight ends and inside receivers. It has been so long ago, it was one of those two.”
What did you get to eat at the Waffle House?
“I am sure I got the No. 1 there,” Morris said. “It was good and I got Ed to pay for it.”
Morris and Arkansas have played four of its nine games at 11 a.m., but this one will be at 6:30 p.m. and televised on the SEC Network. Playing at night in Reynolds Razorback Stadium is something Morris talked about on Wednesday.
“Extremely excited,” Morris said. “I have heard so much about the environment here at night. I look forward to that. I’m really excited about it. Excited for our seniors, excited for our football team. Having a little bit of a change up and playing in the evening.”
Arkansas has played afternoon games against Eastern Illinois and North Texas at home, had a night game in Little Rock against Ole Miss and then had 11 a.m. kickoffs against Alabama, Vanderbilt and Tulsa. They played night games at Colorado State and Auburn while playing another 11 a.m. game against Texas A&M in Arlington. The Mississippi State game in Starkville next Saturday will be an 11 a.m. kickoff while the Missouri game on Nov. 23 in Columbia will kickoff at 1:30 p.m.
Arkansas is coming off a bye week while LSU was suffering a tough 29-0 loss to Alabama in Baton Rouge. The Hogs know about disappointment as well. One week after shutting out Tulsa 23-0 in Razorback Stadium, the Hogs were routed by Vanderbilt 45-31 on Oct. 27. Morris was asked about the disappointment of not being able to stop Vandy one week after shutting out Tulsa?
“That was what was so disappointing, the fact that we have shown steady improvement on all levels and then the Vandy game was the one that I didn’t feel we improved at the pace we have done all year long,” Morris said. “I felt it gave us a great catapult platform moving forward into the open week or the bye week to get better and focus on just us and the development of a lot of our young guys and get our legs back underneath us with our older guys, our high risk guys. And to get ready to go for this this week and the final stretch run that we’re in.”
While Morris is excited about a night game in Fayetteville, Orgeron knows it will be a test for his team.
“Well first of all, it’s going to be about taking care of the football,” Orgeron said. “I don’t know what the weather’s going to be, but it’s probably going to be cold. In our guys’ minds, we have to block that out. We have to get back on track.
“LSU has struggled after the Alabama game for years to come, but the last two years we’ve had success. We need to be careful about having a hangover, respecting Arkansas. They put 31 points on Alabama, we didn’t put any. Obviously we have to respect their football team. They have a lot of good players on their team. They’re going to play their best shot and it’s going to be a hostile crowd.”
LSU is ranked No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings and is 7-2 on the season including 4-2 in the SEC. Arkansas is 2-7 and 0-5 in the SEC.