cromer peoples

Cromer Peoples to lead search for Arkansas’ next football coach

Interim AD says search for Bret Bielema’s replacement begins immediately

By Bart Pohlman

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.—Arkansas interim athletic director Julie Cromer Peoples will lead the school’s search for a new head football coach, she said Friday after the dismissal of Bret Bielema.

Addressing the media Friday night following Arkansas’  loss to Missouri that ended in Bielema’s firing, Cromer Peoples said the search for a new coach will begin immediately.

“We’ll launch the coaching search this evening,” Cromer Peoples said. “I’ll be working and running point on the coaching search. I’ve been fortunate over the last 20 years to build a network of people in the college athletics ranks and in football. I’ll lean on that network, as well as others who I’ve gotten to know in my time here at Arkansas who particularly are interested in finding a coach that fits with our state and fits within our region.”

Cromer Peoples said university chancellor Joe Steinmetz will be involved in the search, but that his focus is on finding Arkansas’ next permanent athletic director. Previous AD Jeff Long was fired by Steinmetz last week.

“Chancellor Steinmetz runs the university, so obviously he’ll be involved,” Cromer Peoples said. “I’ll communicate with him throughout the process. But his focus is on finding an athletic director for us. My focus will be on launching the football search and finding a football coach for us. I do feel that I’ve been given the authority to go find the best football coach for us.”

Cromer Peoples said she doesn’t think having a permanent athletic director in place is necessary for the coaching search.

“I don’t think you need a permanent AD in order to make an offer,” she said. “I think you need an AD, and we have one.”

As far as criteria for Arkansas’ next head coach is concerned, Cromer Peoples has her own list.

“I think in order to be successful here, you have to have a relentless work ethic,” Cromer Peoples said. “I think you have to be an outstanding recruiter. I think you have to be able to put together a staff that can match wits with the other staffs in the SEC. I think it’s important to have a high degree of accountability. I think coaches should be demanding but still be relatable to student-athletes of this generation.

“And I think it’s important, particularly here, that whoever becomes our next head coach understands and relates to our culture, both here as a university and also as a state and throughout the region.”

Cromer Peoples said she is looking for someone who can be successful in the SEC, but won’t rule out any candidates.

“I wouldn’t necessarily limit us to looking only at people who have SEC ties at this point,” she said. “We’re just getting started, so I’d like to keep the pool broad until we find our best candidates.”

Until a replacement for Bielema is hired, Cromer Peoples said Arkansas defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads will serve as the interim coach.