One of the biggest challenges Arkansas' next head coach will face is having to jump straight into recruiting battles, but several candidates already have strong ties to many of the prospects the Razorbacks have been chasing for months.
The new head coach may or may not be able to convince his current team's commits to follow him to Fayetteville, but it's a situation that is probably worth keeping an eye on as things begin to heat up.
Here's a look at nine candidates from the HawgSports.com Hot Board who own current commitments from prospects Arkansas has targeted throughout the year.
Note: This isn't a complete list of Arkansas' coaching candidates. Several other candidates haven't recruited the same players. The following coaches/schools were placed in the order of how many Arkansas targets they've landed thus far. It should also be noted that Arkansas has 16 current commits and many of them chose the Hogs over some of the head coaches/schools listed below:
James Franklin, Vanderbilt
Franklin has done a remarkable recruiting job since he took over in Nashville (Tenn.). His current class, ranked 15th in the nation, has several names the Razorbacks would like to have on their list right now.
Macon (Ga.) Central four-star linebacker Nigel Bowden is a big-time prospect that Arkansas and many, many others tried to land. The same can be said for four-star wide receiver Carlos Burse of Alpharetta (Ga.), who said earlier in the year that Arkansas was one of his leading schools.
Memphis (Tenn.) Harding Academy defensive end/tight end Mack Weaver had Arkansas in his final seven before committing to the Commodores in late August. Wide receiver DeAndre Woods of Pinson (Ala.) said in the spring that he wanted to visit Arkansas, but he ended up committing to Mississippi State in June and then to Vanderbilt four months later.
Arkansas was very much in the mix for defensive tackle Jay Woods of Jackson (Ga.) before the three-star prospect decided on Vanderbilt in August.
Memphis (Tenn.) Whitehaven receiver Gerald Perry was never offered but did receive interest from the Hogs.
Gary Patterson, TCU
Arkansas and TCU have crossed paths a lot more often over the last few years, and both have targeted some of the same prospects again for 2013.
Mansfield (Texas) safety George Baltimore was at one time considered an Arkansas lean following his visit to Fayetteville for the Hogs' spring game. The 6-foot, 205-pounder is good friends with current Razorback cornerback Tevin Mitchel.
Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor running back Trevorris Johnson said Arkansas was his No. 1 school when it offered in late May, but he was later told that the current staff was going all-in to try and flip North Little Rock's Altee Tenpenny from Alabama.
Bastrop (Texas) linebacker Paul Whitmill also reported an Arkansas offer early on, but it's unclear how solid that offer is several months later after the Razorbacks have filled several needs at linebacker.
Other TCU commits who are known to have had contact with Arkansas include linebacker Sammy Douglas of Arlington (Texas), tight end Charlie Reid of Fort Worth (Texas) All Saints Episcopal, and Frisco (Texas) Centennial defensive back Ranthony Texada, a current teammate of Arkansas wide receiver commit Lamar Jordan.
Jim Mora Jr., UCLA
Mora Jr. is considered a longshot, but it's hard to overlook how many quality players he's been able to land from around the nation this year. Some of them were also at or near the top of Arkansas' board.
One of the Hogs' most-wanted prospects in this year's class, four-star offensive tackle Kenny Lacy of Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe, committed to UCLA five days before he was set to make an official visit to Fayetteville for the Alabama game in September.
Offensive tackle Christian Morris of Memphis East is another one the Hogs would love to flip from the Bruins. Morris is a teammate of Arkansas linebacker commit Marcus Robinson, but he's missed several scheduled visits at Arkansas over the last few months. Morris suffered a very serious neck and back injury a couple of weeks ago that forced him to miss attending the Ole Miss game with Robinson in Little Rock.
Another offensive lineman, Scott Quessenberry of Carlsbad (Calif.) La Costa Canyon, was also expected to visit the Hogs this season, but he still hasn't made the trip and there appears to be no future plans of him doing so.
Linebacker Deon Hollins Jr. of Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall was one of Arkansas' top targets in the early going, but there doesn't appear to be much happening there as of late. Hollins Jr. attends the same high school that produced current Razorback Knile Davis in 2009.
Junior college offensive lineman John Lopez is another Bruin commit that Arkansas has kept its eye on over the last year or so.
Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
Some consider Gundy a legitimate candidate and others don't. The bottom line is he's putting together another Top 25 class that includes a couple of Hog targets.
Wylie (Texas) East four-star wide receiver Marcell Ateman committed to OSU early on, but prior to his pledge he appeared to have Arkansas in the mix. Another four-star receiver, Rashaad Samples, was very high on the Hogs before Petrino was fired in April. In fact, the Dallas (Texas) Skyline star was trying to set a visit date to catch a spring practice before the news put Arkansas out of the picture.
Atlanta (Texas) running back Corion Webster is another one who didn't report an Arkansas offer until after he made his commitment elsewhere, but he was definitely high on the Razorbacks' radar for several months.
Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
The Red Raiders haven't landed many Arkansas targets thus far, but the two schools are still on a lot of the same uncommitted players and one Razorback commit in Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe safety Khari Harding.
Whitehouse (Texas) wide receiver Dylan Cantrell visited Arkansas' junior day in March in hopes of earning an offer, but one was never confirmed as extended following that weekend. Cantrell's visit to Fayetteville still remains somewhat of a mystery as he never spoke about the trip on record. Cantrell said earlier this year that his grandfather had always been a big fan of Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State
Yuma (Ariz.) Western Arizona C.C. tight end Emmanuel Bibbs had been seen in person by Arkansas assistant Chris Klenakis, but the 6-3, 245-pounder didn't report an offer from the Hogs until after he had made a pledge to Iowa State in June. At the time, Arkansas had one tight end committed already and still felt good about landing four-star Hunter Henry, who chose the Razorbacks just a few weeks later, so it's hard to say exactly where Bibbs fell on Arkansas' priority list.
Jacksonville (Fla.) Raines cornerback Nigel Tribune was on Arkansas' radar as of a few months ago, but an offer has not been extended.
Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Four-star defensive tackle Greg Webb of Sicklerville (N.J.) Timber Creek said at one time that he was very high on Arkansas and that he was considering Fayetteville as a possible visit destination, but he chose UNC in July and there hasn't been anything new to report with the Hogs since that time.
Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia
Isaac McDonald is a 6-6, 205-pound linebacker/defensive end from Hialeah (Fla.) Champagnat Catholic who was receiving heavy interest from the Hogs earlier this summer. Brenham (Texas) Blinn C.C. offensive lineman Tyler Edwards is another current Mountaineer commit who was on Arkansas' radar at one time.
Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky
Two-star offensive lineman Justin Martinez of Port St. Lucie (Fla.) West Centennial received interest from Arkansas.