With the divorce between defensive coordinator Robb Smith and Arkansas all but done, the Razorbacks have ramped up their search for potential replacements.
According to a report from Bart Pohlman from Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly, recently fired UConn coach Bob Diaco has emerged as a candidate and has officially interviewed for the job. However, regardless of who ends up with the job, current defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads is expected to serve as the co-defensive coordinator.
That isn’t the only change Pohlman reports is coming to Arkansas, either.
Offensive coordinator Dan Enos is receiving interest from NFL teams and other colleges about a similar role. If Enos does leave, it is expected that tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. is the frontrunner to replace him.
Diaco made his name as the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame under Brian Kelly from 2010 to 2013 before accepting the Connecticut job in 2014. He also served as Kelly’s defensive coordinator at Cincinnati in 2009.
Diaco’s tenure at UConn was a rather disastrous one, though. After winning just two games in 2014, he seemingly had the program going in the right direction with a bowl-eligible season in 2015. However, the program took a step back in 2016 with a 3-9 finish. He was fired late relative to most coaches and replaced by Randy Edsall.
Like Diaco, Rhoads also has a long history as a defensive coordinator. He served as Pitt’s defensive coordinator from 2000-2007 and then as Auburn’s in 2008 before accepting the head coaching job at Iowa State. Rhoads had a rough stint there, going 32-55 with losses in two of his three bowl appearances before he was fired. Rhoads has previously been considered the favorite to replace Smith, so it’s unsurprising that he’s being considered in at least a co-defensive coordinator role.
Enos’ potential departure may be the most surprising of the recent developments. Enos has been the Arkansas’ offensive coordinator for two seasons after he resigned as Central Michigan’s head coach in 2015. Lunney, a former Razorbacks quarterback, has been the Arkansas tight ends coach for four years.