Arkansas replaces quarterbacks coach Wittke

Updated: December 9, 2005, 3:07 PM ET
Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas coach Houston Nutt fired his quarterbacks coach Friday and hired Springdale's Gus Malzahn, the highly successful high school coach of a much-sought-after prospect, as the Razorbacks' new offensive coordinator.

"It's a true honor for me," Malzahn said at a university news conference. "I am truly excited to be here."

Nutt made other changes in his coaching staff after his second losing season in a row.

The Razorbacks used two quarterbacks this season -- Robert Johnson and Casey Dick -- and finished the year 4-7. Malzahn has a high school record of 144-36-1 at three schools, with three state titles.

"It's a great deal for high school coaches," Nutt said. "I have an awesome respect for high school coaches. My father was a high school coach for 33 years."

Malzahn this year coached Springdale to a 14-0 record and an Arkansas Class AAAAA state championship. His quarterback was Mitch Mustain, the Gatorade national player of the year who has said he would attend Arkansas. Mustain's mother said this week that the quarterback might reconsider.

At the news conference, Nutt reminisced about high school coaches he has known, including the high school coach that persuaded him to attend Arkansas. Nutt couldn't talk about Mustain directly, under NCAA guidelines, but no doubt would like to see Mustain follow Malzahn and honor his previous commitment to the Razorbacks.

Malzahn claimed divine intervention for the opportunity to coach at Arkansas.

"I totally believe that God has blessed me with a unique ability to know offense, to call offense. I'm truly excited to be here. I can't wait to get started," Malzahn said.

Nutt said earlier Friday that, after considering Arkansas' football future, he had decided to take the Razorbacks in a new direction without Wittke.

"It wasn't an easy decision to make because of the quality of the individual involved. I'm grateful to Roy for his contributions to our program in his tenure," Nutt said.

Arkansas has had back-to-back losing records for the first time under Nutt.

Assistants Chris Vaughn, Clifton Ealy and James Shibest will take on new duties at Arkansas.

Vaughn will move from safeties coach and recruiting coordinator to director of on-campus recruiting; Ealy will move from tight end coach to director of high school relations; Shibest will coach tight ends and special teams.

Wittke had coached at Arkansas for three years.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press