Arkansas has fired Chad Morris as its football coach, and tight ends coach/special-teams coordinator Barry Lunney Jr. will finish out the season as the Razorbacks’ interim coach, the school announced Sunday.
In less than two seasons, Morris was just 4-18 overall since replacing Bret Bielema in December 2017 and was winless in 14 SEC games. Arkansas suffered its second embarrassing home loss of the season on Saturday in a 45-19 setback to Western Kentucky. The Hogs also lost 31-24 at home to San Jose State on Sept. 21, triggering a seven-game losing streak.
Arkansas has an open date this coming weekend before finishing the season against LSU on the road and then Missouri at home. The Hogs are 2-8 overall this season and have lost 17 straight SEC games dating back to the end of the 2017 season.
Lunney, a former Arkansas quarterback, is in his seventh season on Arkansas’ coaching staff.
“As part of my continued evaluation, I have come to the conclusion that a change in leadership is necessary to move our football program forward and position it for success,” Arkansas AD Hunter Yurachek said via statement. “It is clear that we have not made the progress necessary to compete and win, especially within the Southeastern Conference. Throughout our history in football, as well as with our other sport programs, we have demonstrated that the University of Arkansas is capable of being nationally competitive. I have no doubt that as we move forward, we will identify a head coach that will help lead our program to that benchmark.
“I want to express my personal and professional regard to Coach Morris and thank him for his investment in the lives of our student-athletes.”
Under the terms of Morris’ six-year, $21 million contract, the Razorbacks will owe him 70% of his remaining compensation, which totals about $10 million. Arkansas athletics will make monthly payments to Morris through 2023.
The Razorbacks owed Bielema about $11.9 million when they fired him in November 2017. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported last month that the Razorback Foundation had stopped making monthly payments of $320,833 to Bielema and asked him to return $4.2 million it has already paid him.
At issue is whether Bielema, who now works as a defensive line coach for the New England Patriots, breached his agreement by not actively pursuing another job with compensation similar to what Arkansas paid him.
The Hogs have been outscored by 138 points in their past four losses and have given up 45 or more points in all four of those losses. This will be the fourth straight year in which they’ve finished with a losing record in SEC play.
Morris was previously the head coach at SMU before being hired at Arkansas.
Possible successors include Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, whom the Hogs targeted before they hired Morris, and Memphis coach Mike Norvell.