FAYETTEVILLE — Terry Don Phillips and Katie Hill have a better combined knowledge of what the Arkansas Razorbacks traditionally need and Chad Morris’ potential to fulfill those needs than anyone, anywhere.
They both know Arkansas. And they both know Morris, hired Dec. 6 as Arkansas’ head football coach.
Phillips has two degrees from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He achieved the first after lettering as a defensive tackle for Frank Broyles’ Razorbacks in 1966, ’68 and ’69.
Phillips earned a law degree during his 1988-94 UA return, first as president of the Razorback Foundation and then as senior associate athletics director before becoming athletics director at Oklahoma State and Clemson.
Hill worked at the UA for 14 years, the first five in the Razorback Foundation and the last nine as senior associate athletics director before she rejoined Phillips as Clemson’s senior associate athletics director in charge of finance.
So indeed, they both know Arkansas. And from Morris’ Clemson tenure coordinating the offenses for Coach Dabo Swinney’s Tigers from 2011-14, they both know Morris. Clemson went 10-4, 11-2, 11-2 and 11-2 during that stretch.
They know Morris’ pre-Clemson background, coaching Texas high schools for 16 years and coordinating the University of Tulsa offense for one, and they appreciate his progression as head coach at SMU from 2015-17.
Both praise Morris in superlatives, an especially superlative event with Hill.
“I keep a distance from coaches because I’m the money guy,” said Hill, now retired and back in Fayetteville. “But this guy is an awesome coach. In fact, when people asked me (about the Arkansas vacancy), I would give a list of three and he was one of them. He was a difference-maker.”
A difference-maker and how, said Phillips, also retired and living in Clemson, S.C.
Swinney went 6-7 with a stagnant offense and fans were howling for his head in 2010, Phillips said.
Along came Morris, Phillips said, and Clemson transformed into a national power.
Though Morris moved on, Swinney retained Morris’ offense, Phillips said, while netting the 2015 national runner-up and 2016 national championship. Clemson ranks No. 1 in 2017 going into the college football playoff.
“He came in here and he changed the paradigm on what we did offensively and brought exciting football to Clemson,” Phillips said. “Chad built a foundation that, when he left for SMU, we had a couple of young coaches with his tutoring and Dabo moved them up and we haven’t missed a beat. It was fun to watch us play and still is fun to watch to us play because what we do is based on what Chad installed.”
Morris’ assets soar beyond offensive X’s and O’s, Phillips said. Phillips cites Morris’ work ethic and personality that Phillips says excels for recruiting and relationships essential to thrive at Arkansas.
“He’s really a good fit because he can rub elbows with the folks up there at the high level and with us commoners,” Phillips said. “He certainly gets along with everybody. The bottom line is, y’all are going to be very happy with him.”
“He came in here and he changed the paradigm on what we did offensively and brought exciting football to Clemson. Chad built a foundation that, when he left for SMU, we had a couple of young coaches with his tutoring and Dabo moved them up and we haven’t missed a beat.”
— Terry Don Phillips, former Clemson athletics director and UA administrator
Print Headline: Administrators with UA ties say Morris fits bill