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Arkansas should offer to hire Sean Payton for 2012 and he should accept

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer
Payton would have to consider the move if Arkansas offered right? (Getty Images)

Arkansas has quite the mess on their hands -- the world is busy counting the text messages between Bobby Petrino, spring practice has already begun and Razorbacks athletic director Jeff Long is reportedly swinging for the fences, trying to lure Pete Carroll away from the Seahawks to Fayetteville.

Carroll's a pipe dream for any number of reasons, but here's an idea: hire Sean Payton.

No, seriously. The NFL already said, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, that Payton's suspension wouldn't prevent him from coaching Arkansas in 2012, so the biggest hurdle of all is already cleared.

The question is whether or not the Saints would let Payton coach the Razorbacks in 2012, and the answer is that they should. Is Payton going to stay sharp as a coach, playcaller, gameplanner, etc, if he's a) hanging out on a Caribbean island or b) spending time with his family? Negative. He would sharpen his skills -- or at least keep them sharp -- if he spent the season on the Arkansas sideline.

And the Saints aren't paying him this year anyway; they picked up an excess of $6-8 million in cash when Payton was suspended, because the NFL isn't forcing the Saints to pay the money to charity.

So clear that hurdle and all that remains is mutual interest from Arkansas and Payton. And they should both have, at the very least, a modicum of interest. Arkansas needs a splash at head coach to keep its fanbase happy and make sure that its slew of talented players don't bolt.

But Arkansas problem in trying to make a splash is that it'll be impossibly difficult to land a big-name coach for the 2012 right now; Long would be better served hiring an interim coach for 2012 and giving the full-time job search a year's worth of due diligence.

This is why the Arkansas-Payton marriage makes so much sense: Payton's a superstar coach and he would only want to coach for a year. Arkansas could ink him to a one-year deal, knowing he'll head back to the Saints in 2013, regardless of how things go, and continue to search for a coach to replace him in 2013 at Arkansas during his tenure.

In terms of filling Petrino's void, it would be difficult to find someone with the playcalling prowess of Petrino on such short notice. Payton is that someone, and he'd be taking over a team that's got the potential to challenge for a BCS title.

Additionally, working at Arkansas would provide three very important things for Payton. It would allow him to satisfy his competitive desire to coach, it would allow him to get a first, early look at next year's draft class and potential college players he'd like to have on the Saints, and -- this is my own thinking -- he could teach future NFL players about the danger of bounty programs.

And not just in the Arkansas locker room either; he could volunteer to talk with opponents players the week of gameday for a short session, encouraging them to approach the NFL within the boundaries of the rulebook and impart valuable life lessons for younger men.

Then there's the kicker: if you want to get approval from a big-time Arkansas alum, just ring up Dallas general manager Jerry Jones. Payton worked for Jerry under Bill Parcells and Jones is a big-time Razorbacks supporter.

It's outside of the box thinking, for sure, but it's something that could actually make sense for both parties.
 
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