Arkansas is close to getting its new coach, and it's somebody who is a perfect fit for what the Razorbacks need to be.
SMU coach Chad Morris has emerged as the top target of a program that let go of Bret Bielema on Nov. 24 -- shortly after closing out a 4-8 (1-7 SEC) season -- and a deal will be done in the next 24 hours. Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated first reported Morris' improved candidacy.
Morris is 14-22 in three seasons at SMU but posted a 7-5 record this season and earned a berth in the Frisco Bowl against Louisiana Tech. He went 2-10 in his first season with a program that had won just one in the previous season and improved to 5-7 in 2016. The bowl berth this year is the first since a 2012 Hawaii Bowl win over Fresno State.
Sources tell CBS Sports that influential people in the college football world and within the SEC who consulted with Arkansas -- a program that didn't have an athletic director -- almost universally recommended Morris for the job due to his integrity, Texas ties and ability to consistently produce top-tier offenses.
Prior to SMU, Morris was Clemson's offensive coordinator from 2011-14, helping lay the groundwork for its dynamic offense. He was instrumental in the recruitment of former star Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson. Morris made the jump to college after an ultra-successful career as a high school coach in the state of Texas.
The combination of Morris' high-octane spread offense and ability to recruit Texas -- a state Arkansas relies on heavily -- makes him a perfect fit for a program after both traits gradually disappeared under Bielema.
Even bigger news for the Razorbacks could be who he brings with him. According to FootballScoop.com, Morris is targeting Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables for the same role with the Razorbacks. Venables has produced top 10 defenses nationally in each of the last four seasons, and the two close friends worked together at Clemson from 2012-14.