HOOVER — Arkansas head coach Chad Morris knows what it takes to build a winner in the Southeastern Conference — building up talented depth along the line of scrimmage and that takes time.
“I knew that the challenges this league brings each and every week, and it’s a line-of-scrimmage league,” Morris said at SEC Media Days on Wednesday. “And if you don’t have the depth in the offense and defensive lines to sustain and be a consistent competitor, it’s difficult. And so that’s why we went out and recruited like we did in those two areas.”
That lesson was reinforced last season in Morris’ first season at the helm as Arkansas went 2-10 overall and 0-8 in the SEC. It was the first winless season in conference play in the SEC since Arkansas went winless in former coach Bret Bielema’s first season back in 2013.
The disappointing record didn’t hurt them in recruiting. According to Morris, it actually helped the Razorbacks in securing a solid recruiting class. Arkansas had the 23rd ranked recruiting class in the nation, including 11 four-star prospects, according to 247Sports.
“I think when you look at the way we recruited during the 2-10 season says a lot,” Morris said. “It says that, you know, the passion level that our fans have, the passion level to have a player want to come and be a part and be able to play and play quickly helped us in that recruiting in that first year. There’s no getting around it.”
So with a strong recruiting class, and 11 starters returning, is Morris expecting his team to win enough games to become bowl eligible? Is there a number he has circled on the white board in his office for number of wins in 2019?
“I think when you look at expectations for year two and wins and losses, I’m not going to put a number on it,” Morris said. “I know inside our program and talking to our seniors and our leaders, and they want to leave their legacy. And getting this program into the post season is definitely a goal of ours, and it’s something that we have talked about. And we started talking about it 235 days ago, but it was going to take a lot.”
Morris, who is a former assistant at Clemson and head coach at SMU, also cited that a rebuilding project at a program takes plenty of time and plenty of consistency.
“When you take a head football coaching job, you know that establishing and enhancing a culture is your top priority, and it takes time, and it takes consistency, and there’s a certain process to follow to develop the results that you’re looking for,” Morris said. “You can look at examples for guys that I worked for. Coach (Dabo) Swinney, guys in this league, Dan Mullen and Mark Stoops. It didn’t happen overnight.”