SMU's Chad Morris, who was the architect of high-scoring offenses at Texas high schools and Clemson before rebuilding the Mustangs' program, has emerged as the top candidate to replace Bret Bielema at Arkansas, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.
Morris, 49, has a 14-22 record with the Mustangs, but his team's performance has improved dramatically over the past three seasons. SMU went 2-10 in his first season in 2015, 5-7 in '16 and 7-5 this season.
The Mustangs will play Louisiana Tech in the DXL Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
The Razorbacks fired Bielema last month after a 4-8 finish in his fifth season. Arkansas hired Houston's Hunter Yurachek as its new athletic director on Monday.
The Razorbacks' top choice to replace Bielema was Auburn's Gus Malzahn, an Arkansas native, but he opted to sign a seven-year, $49 million to remain with the Tigers. Memphis' Mike Norvell, who signed a contract extension Tuesday, USF's Charlie Strong and Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables also were mentioned as potential Arkansas candidates.
Morris is known for his fast-paced, no-huddle spread offense. SMU ranks among the top 15 in the FBS in scoring offense (40.2 points), total offense (493.8 yards) and passing yards (308 yards).
Prior to taking over the SMU program, Morris was Clemson's offensive coordinator from 2011 to '14. According to his profile on the SMU athletic department website, Clemson broke 127 school offensive records during his tenure and posted a 41-11 record in four seasons.
Morris coached 16 seasons at Texas high schools, compiling a 169-38 record. He guided Lake Travis High School to back-to-back state championships in his final two seasons there in 2008-09.