With influential support, SMU coach Chad Morris is now Arkansas' top target

SMU head coach Chad Morris watches from the sideline in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Memphis Saturday Nov. 18 2017 in Memphis Tenn

On Monday, the school announced Houston's Hunter Yurachek would be its new athletic director, replacing Jeff Long.

Numerous media outlets, including USA TODAY and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, report SMU head football coach Chad Morris is being targeted to take the same position with the University of Arkansas. With Auburn and Memphis locking up Gus Malzahn and Mike Norvell, respectively, Arkansas has turned its attention to Morris. Instead, he signed a lucrative extension to remain with the Tigers.

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, also contacted by Arkansas as a head coaching possibility, worked three years with Morris on the same Clemson staff under Dabo Swinney. This season, Morris' third with the program, the Mustangs will play Louisiana Tech in the Frisco Bowl, the program's first bowl appearance since 2012. The two are close from Morris' days as a Clemson assistant.

Morris oversees an explosive Mustangs offense averaging 40.2 points ad 493.8 yards per game.

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Prior to SMU, Morris was Clemson's offensive coordinator from 2011-14, helping lay the groundwork for its dynamic offense.

Morris, a proponent of the up-tempo Spread offense, shot through the high school ranks in Texas much like Malzahn did in Arkansas in roughly the same time period. He was hired as Tulsa's OC in 2010 from his job as coach at Austin's Lake Travis High.

The combination of Morris' high-octane spread offense and ability to recruit Texas - a state Arkansas relies on heavily - makes him a flawless fit for a program after both traits gradually disappeared under Bielema. Not only will he have to re-trench the roster from the ground-and-pound scheme of Bret Bielema, he'll have to do so in an SEC West that's as competitive as ever.

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