- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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As Arkansas' spring gets closer and closer to shutting down, the rumblings around who will be the Razorbacks' new coach will only grow louder and louder.
Will athletic director Jeff Long look internally? Will he reach out to former assistants? Will he bring in a total outsider or find a young up-and-comer?
No one knows right now, but let the speculation run wild.
Tuesday, an interesting name emerged in the search, as former Tennessee assistant Doug Matthews told a Nashville, Tenn., radio show that former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer had been contacted by Arkansas about the open coaching spot. Matthews told the show that two parties had been in contact following Bobby Petrino's firing, but he wasn't sure how interested either side was.
Here's a little of what Matthews said about Fulmer and Arkansas:
"I know Phillip has had conversations with them. And when I say with them, all that is going to take place behind the scenes.
"But everything I’m hearing from Arkansas is the spring game, I think, is this Saturday. ‘Let’s get through spring. Let’s see where we are.’ But I think they’ll either go with a guy that they’ve got on the staff or they’ll bring in someone to be -- caretaker’s the wrong word -- but bring someone in who has been through it all before.
"If there is a place for Phillip, that will be the place."
Obviously, Fulmer is no stranger to the SEC. He was a star in this league at one point when he was in charge at Tennessee. He went 152-52 during his 17 years as Tennessee's head coach and won the national championship in 1998. He didn't have a very graceful exit, but he was a proven winner for the Vols for most of his career. In his 17 years, nine ended with double digits in the win column.
Fulmer has been linked to jobs in the past, but like most coaches, only the "perfect situation" would bring him back. Would this constitute as the "perfect situation" for Fulmer? Well, Arkansas' offense is loaded in 2012 and the defense has the depth needed to improve on last year. As for the future, Fulmer was once a great recruiter at Tennessee, so bringing in talent wouldn't be an issue.
While his last years in Knoxville weren't exactly great, there's no question that Fulmer knows how to win in the country's toughest conference. Who knows if there is real interest from either side here, but this situation is worth keeping an eye on.
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