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Long picks random name out of the yearbook



As early as 9:30 p.m. Monday, Wikipedia, the user-generated online encyclopedia, listed Tommy Frickin' Bowden as the head coach at the University of Arkansas. Somebody must be messing with me. Just to clear things up: Tommy Bowden is not Bobby Bowden Jr. He is Danny Ford Jr. When's the last time a coaching legacy worked out? Skip Holtz? Mike Shula? Wasn't a member of the Bush clan available?

Wikipedia doesn't really bother me all that much. The vicissitudes of user-generated content don't have all that much impact on multi-sourced general information. You can take it for what it's worth. But I'm not quite ready to start getting my sports news from desk jockeys who type 2,500-word bios of Rick Springfield in their spare time. For every bored art historian hashing out the differences between Dadaism and Surrealism, there's a nutjob tacking a couple illegitimate children onto Corey Haim's list of accomplishments. (I'm not sure which is the sadder exercise.)

So this has got to be a practical joke.

Tommy Bowden has a decent career winning percentage at .654, but he's spent the last nine years AT CLEMSON. Nobody who's anybody sticks around at Clemson. Bowden's a lifer. Yes, his team went 9-3 this year, beating pop in the Bowden Bowl and managing to squeak out a lucky win against South Carolina, but they lost to every team that was worth a damn in the ACC.

I'm sure he'd be fine. Houston Nutt without the drama. But we don't want 10 more years of punctuated mediocrity. We don't want to pay Nutt millions to leave only to turn around and hire his double. We want somebody with the ability to take us all the way when the next Darren McFadden comes along. (God knows, that will probably never happen, but we should be ready if it does.) We may want an offensive coordinator that can light up our opponents, and Bowden does run the spread, but we also want a defensive coordinator who can give us something other than this rope-a-dope bullshit that doesn't work until we're pushed back to our own red zone.

Apparently, Jeff Long and Bowden go way back. That's just great. I've liked every part of how Long has handled this search until he called up his buddy. If we wanted the good old boys, we'd have plenty to choose from right here in Arkansas. We wouldn't need to travel to sunny Pittsburgh.

I file my column on Tuesday morning, so who the hell knows what's going to happen by the time this sees print, but let's hope we're looking at smoke and mirrors. If this is all strategy on Long's part to distract us from a better candidate, then he'll have won my heart. I'll be happy to look like an ass if this all goes away. Maybe by press time, Bowden will have used us to leverage a raise for his assistants and we'll have moved on to a quality candidate like, um ... Mike Leach? That is, if UCLA hasn't gone ahead and snatched him up. (I wish Future-Derek would go ahead and shoot me a fax.)

We can always comfort ourselves with the fact that Coach Pelphrey has the basketball team in check. Even Darian Townes has been in on the act. I'm increasingly impressed by Pelph's leadership abilities and knack for bringing the best out of our players. Now, I'm looking forward to diving head first into basketball season next Wednesday. By then things should be settled down around here, for better or worse.

In the meantime, you'll have to excuse me. I've gotta go add some lines to Jeff Long's Wikipedia entry.

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